Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Juncos are Back!

53 degrees and sunny at 8:00 a.m. The rain is gone! Took a walk around the lower gardens. I saw some white throated sparrows foraging around one of the big trees near the center of the gardens. Lots of chickadees and goldfinches. Haynes turned up shortly after I arrived but we really didn't see much. Possibly a sharp shinned hawk and a bush filled with house finches and cardinals.

We walked up to the upper gardens and saw a beautiful swamp sparrow and a couple of ruby crowned kinglets and a yellow rumped warbler with a great view of his (what else) yellow rump! We suddenly realized someone else was nearby and it turned out to be Jane! She had come up the back way from the river. She and Haynes saw some savannah sparrows and we saw yet again the leucistic song sparrow which has now been named "Lucy". It's fun to be able to recognize a certain individual over and over again.

Down by the soccer field heard some blue jays and in looking up to find them, we saw a gorgeous red bellied woodpecker! Very striking. Group of mallards in pond and in Woodcock Meadow was a large flock of juncos!!! For me, they're a sign that winter is coming. No escaping it. But they're so entertaining and cheerful to watch, at least they make the winter go by a little quicker.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Drizzly Day...

It was supposed to be a rainy day today, but I decided to head over to the park in between raindrops. I got there around 8:00, took some pictures and then ran into Ian.

Things were hopping in the lower gardens with a flock of white throated sparrows among other things. Very busy, flitting here and there, singing, chasing each other and foraging. I am quite enamored of them. Ian pointed out a beautiful Lincoln sparrow so now I have seen it twice.

We saw a ruby-crowned kinglet in one of the big trees. They really cannot sit still. Definitely a photographer's nightmare.  Chickadees were scattered all over the gardens as well, hanging upside down, vocalizing and flying from branch to branch. We saw the usual cast of characters as well; cardinals, blue jays, goldfinches, mockingbirds.

The upper gardens were extremely quiet, just like last weekend, so Ian showed me a path I had never seen before that leads down to the road. That area, right before the soccer field was a little hotspot. We saw titmice, nuthatches and lots of sparrows - song sparrows, swamp sparrows and chipping sparrows. Luckily, the rain held out for the hour we were there, and as we headed to our cars it started to drizzle, but very gently...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Brookline Bird Club Walk No. 2

Another unseasonably cold day. It was 41 degrees when I arrived at the park at 7:30 and only 45 degrees when I left at 9:30. No frost on the car though.

Before the group arrived, I heard some action down in the lower gardens. There was an area across from the gardens that was covered with white throated sparrows. They were very colorful and vocal. I love their little noises and songs and they were darting about and chasing each other. Very entertaining! Also, saw a small olivey bird with quite a yellow underside and what appeared to be sort of an eye ring and a little bit of streaking on its upper breast. It flicked it's tail constantly. Wasn't sure what it was. Upon meeting the group, Linda informed me that it was a palm warbler. I still get easily confused as we have seen several in the last few weeks, but somehow they all seem a little different!

Linda from the Brookline Bird Club led the walk today. We had people from Tewskbury, Watertown, Wellesley, Brookline and Newton. We spent quite a bit of time in the lower gardens as the sun was coming out. We ended up seeing quite a few palm warblers as well as some yellow rumps, but not nearly as many as last week. In fact, we're not seeing nearly as many warblers as last year around this time. Not sure if the weather is affecting this or what it is. We saw chickadees, cardinals, blue jays, song sparrows, a chipping sparrow, a ruby crowned kinglet (which was so restless that Linda said it reminded her of the snitch in Harry Potter!). At one point later in the morning, a tree in the lower gardens had about eight house finches in it - several males with their beautiful reddish purple breasts. Also saw goldfinches and heard the white breasted nuthatch. A sharp shinned hawk was spotted flying overhead as some crows chased it away and shortly after we saw a red-tailed hawk flying too.

The upper gardens was actually pretty quiet. Saw a savannah sparrow, some white throated sparrows and the song sparrows. Like last week, someone spotted cormorants flying over head only this time it was a whole crowd flying in formation.

We took a walk down to the soccer fields where we saw three phoebes and then down to the pond where there was a mallard couple. I had to leave as the group headed down to the river, so I'm not sure what else was seen.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Brookline Bird Club Walk

Today was even colder than yesterday! I had frost on my front and back windshield! I think it was about 36 degrees at 7:25 a.m. Arrived at Nahanton early and ran into Haynes. We looked around the lower gardens where Haynes spotted an osprey overhead but it very cold and the birds were quiet. We soon saw our guide Jane Z. in the parking lot. We had a nice group of 8-10 people. Haynes, Bev, Dana, Jane S. and myself were there with some additional birdwatchers whose names I don't know. Someone spotted some cowbirds in the distance as we were waiting for the full group to assemble.

We returned to the lower gardens as a group. The sun was coming out and the birds started moving around. We saw song sparrows, a pine warbler, blue headed vireo, swamp sparrows, white-throated sparrows, a savannah sparrow, house finches, one yellow-rumped warbler and a tiny little ruby crowned kinglet! As we were headed up to the upper gardens Jane S. spotted an unusual sparrow in some brush near the lower gardens. Jane Z. identified it as a Lincoln sparrow which I was really excited to see because Haynes had seen them but never when I was around. He says it's as if they're dressed in a very fine tweed and they did look quite dapper! There seemed to be at least two of them.

In the upper gardens we didn't see much other than a few different kinds of sparrows however Dana saw a double-crested cormorant flying overhead! On the way down to the soccer field we saw several yellow-rumped warblers. It's so funny how one day can make such a difference. Yesterday, they were everywhere.

The group moved on to another park, but Haynes and I took a quick spin around the lower gardens. We saw an Eastern phoebe and a titmouse. We ran into some other birders who had seen a palm warbler in the upper gardens which was nice.

For anyone who's interested, there is going to be another walk with the Brookline Bird Club at Nahanton next Saturday (I'm assuming that's at 8:00 a.m. also?). It's always fun and you also get to hear what people have been seeing on their own.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Clay-colored Sparrow?

Suzette, Jane, and I spent a few minutes studying a sparrow in the bushes between the lower garden and the wildflower field. I had a hard time with it. Now that I've had a chance to collect my thoughts, I think it was a Clay-colored Sparrow. It was an adult. I have only seen first year birds before. This sparrow had a crisp whitish breast, unlike the buff wash on young birds. It did have tan flanks, a well marked face, a whitish crown stripe, and it was shaped like a Chipping Sparrow.

Yellow Rumps Have Arrived!

It was unusually cold this morning. 38 degrees as I headed over to the park at about 7:45. I could see that Haynes had arrived and we headed up to the upper gardens where we also ran into Jane and later, Ian in Woodcock meadow.

The yellow-rumped warblers or as Haynes calls them the Myrtle warblers were there and the more we looked the more we saw. Also had some nice sightings of swamp sparrows. Jane and I were educated on the difference between the eastern and western palm warbler as there were two of them side by side on a garden fence.

The sparrows were very interested of course in all the garden offerings but found a patch of grasses going to seed in the refuse pile and also a pile of brush to the side of the path. We saw song sparrows as well as the white throated sparrows. Jane spotted a group of 5 or 6 house finches on top of a tree. Also saw many of the regulars; mockingbirds, cardinals, blue jays, chickadees, goldfinches, robins, titmice and a juvenile red-tailed hawk, etc.

Mallards very busy down by the pond where again we saw an Eastern Phoebe hanging out. Everywhere we went - from the upper and lower gardens, to the pond, to the river, to the meadow we saw the yellow-rumps everywhere. Wonder how long we'll have the pleasure of seeing them....

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Warblers are Here!!!

It's true - they're here along with lots of different kinds of sparrows, none of which I could easily identify!

Today was overcast, but quite warm (60's). At various times the sun tried to come out and may yet succeed. I was first greeted in the lower gardens with a mockingbird singing it's heart out with every conceivable song you could imagine. Was it a young one practicing for next year?

Saw one distinctive palm warbler and others that I wasn't sure about. I went back and forth between thinking they were pine warblers, then black polls, then drab palm warblers because they were slightly on the larger side for a warbler. This is when I get really frustrated and need someone with more experience with me. Saw several female yellowthroats one of which is pictured here. Also saw an almost grayish brown warbler with white wing bars that I have absolutely no idea what it could have been.

In the upper gardens, I was captivated by a tiny little bird with white eye rings, rather olivey with some yellow. It flitted here and there and couldn't sit still for a second. It wasn't until it flew to the ground and I could look down on it that I saw a tiny little patch of red on top of it's head and I realized this must be the Ruby Crowned Kinglet that I've been dying to see - my very first sighting!!!!!! Also saw a beautiful olivey yellow much larger bird preening itself in a tree branch. It had a pale yellow eyebrow and couldn't figure out what it was but here is a rather poor picture in case anyone else can identify it.

Toward the back of the upper gardens were tons of different kinds of sparrows but again, I just couldn't figure out what they were. Saw what I'm pretty sure was a Nashville warbler, but possibility it was a Connecticut. Unfortunately, I had to leave (because I could have stayed all day!) but as I got to the path I saw my new friend the baby turtle I had seen last weekend and got it's picture.

P.S. Saw that Caroline (our Carolina wren) has arrived in our backyard! That means the Juncos should be arriving soon...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fall Bird Walk

Today, Alison led a bird walk at Nahanton Park starting at 8:00 a.m. Luckily, the rain held off and it was in the low 60's, so not too cold.

We started near the river where we heard the purr of the red bellied woodpecker and finally saw it high up in a tree. Walked down Florrie's path and stopped by the pond where some of our group saw some wood ducks and of course the mallards were there. Saw an eastern phoebe perched on a branch overhanging the pond as well.

Spent some time near the soccer field where we saw song sparrows and white throated sparrows. On the way up to the gardens we saw tufted titmice, a catbird, pine warblers, a black throated green warbler and a downy woodpecker.

Toured the lower and upper gardens. It actually was pretty quiet. We saw mockingbirds, chipping sparrows, song sparrows, goldfinches and house wrens. I had arrived before the walk and did a quick tour of the lower gardens and had seen the red eyed vireo that's been hanging out there and a male yellowthroat.

We then walked over to Woodcock meadow where we saw what we determined to be a pine warbler and a  black poll warbler in a tree together. They looked almost identical, but one had dark legs and the other had yellowy-orange legs. That was the end of the walk for some of us, but others continued on across the street and down by the Charles. Can't wait to find out what they saw....

I always get excited on these walks and feel compelled to return to the park to see what else can be found. After lunch, I went back and went looking for the wood ducks that I had missed. Didn't see them but as I was leaving I heard a lot of squawking and a huge hawk flew from that direction and landed on a tree right in front of me. It was awesome! Was in the upper gardens when I saw something small moving in the grass. It was a baby turtle - not more than three inches long. Now tell me, what was that doing there? Does anybody know? I thought it would need to be near water. You just never know what you're going to find.