Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bluebird Sighting!

Low 40's, clear and sunny - a beautiful day. Got to the park around 7:45. The lower gardens were rather quiet - some robins, goldfinches, juncos, bluejays and a rabbit which I was almost on top of before we discovered each other and it ran away with its white tail bobbing behind it! Today I smelled that musky smell down in the lower gardens. Wondering if it is indeed the smell of fox....

Decided to explore the upper gardens. On the way up, the wildflower field that was filled with robins last week is now filled with crows. That is one of the things that makes exploring this park so much fun. You never know what you're going to see next!

At any rate, the upper gardens were dead quiet. Not a bird in sight. Just as I was rounding the bend on the soccer field side, there was a flurry of activity. First there was a bush full of house finches and goldfinches. There was a mockingbird that sounded like it was saying "uh oh" at me as if I had invaded it's territory. Then I heard some strange whistling noise. I looked up into the big tree in the center of the gardens and there was a bluebird!!! I couldn't believe it. I haven't seen one in so long. However, I feel like I saw one just about this time of year last year - late November, early December. I ran into Haynes up there and he had seen a single bluebird last week! Is it the same one? Is it passing through or will it winter here? I should have asked it!

The only other birds I saw were on the path to the soccer field. Saw goldfinches, song sparrows, juncos, blue jays, house finches and a white throated sparrow.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving and a Pair of Hermit Thrushes!

40's and very foggy, but quiet and beautiful except for the fact that the birds are highly excited and active today. Do they think we're done with winter and this is spring?

The lower gardens were very busy this morning. Tons of robins, goldfinches, song sparrows and bluejays, juncos and house finches chasing each other in pairs and generally making quite a racket!

I was looking at what I thought was a tree full of robins when it turned out they were cedar waxwings and with them was a hermit thrush.  Not only did I see it once, but I saw it again on the path to the soccer field, and then, not only did I see one, but I saw a pair (blurry picture to right)!!!!! I was really excited. Also saw one white throated sparrow in lower gardens and a downy woodpecker.

The wildflower field was covered with robins. On the way to the gardens, I smelled that musky odor which I am now pretty sure is the fox. In the upper gardens were some titmice, nuthatches, goldfinches and American tree sparrows.

Not much else of note, but it really was very atmospheric there today with the fog everywhere and the sun trying to poke through, but not succeeding.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wildflower Field Mowed and Special Visitor!

7:30 a.m. and 42 degrees. Today when I arrived at the park I could see the wildflower field had been mowed and it was all covered with frost. I know that yesterday as I was leaving a huge truck was there, so I guess I wasn't all that surprised.

What did surprise me though was a fox that I could see on the path across from the field! I think it was a red fox in winter gear, but not 100% sure. As soon as it saw me it disappeared so I stayed on the path near the entrance and watched the birds in the brush. There were white throated sparrows foraging on the ground ahead of me. Then all of a sudden I caught some movement in the field and looked up. There was the fox leaping around in the field. It looked like he was jumping and dancing and running around in circles. It reminded me of a cat playing with its toy. When I looked at it through the binoculars I saw that it was actually playing with something! I was horrified that it was a bird, but it was a rodent of some kind because it definitely had a fleshy, long tail. I guess it would have to be a mouse or a rat or something like that. It played for quite a while and then disappeared into the woods between the upper gardens and the path to the soccer field. I walked the field looking for the rodent, but couldn't find it.

As far as birds are concerned,  I saw all the regulars today. Lots and lots of blue jays, song sparrows, goldfinches, tufted titmice, juncos, chickadees, robins, cardinal (picture right), a male house finch and several nuthatches in the same location I saw them in yesterday.

The light was beautiful as it shone through the trees.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Our Regulars

It was about 42 degrees this morning and clear. I got to the park around 7:30 or so. Lots and lots of juncos and chickadees. I heard a chit chit call from one junco to another that was new for me. I've only been familiar with their little twittering noises so that was kind of fun.

Nothing terribly exciting today - goldfinches, song sparrows, American tree sparrows, mockingbirds, nuthatches, a few robins and blue jays. The herds of robins I saw before weren't there today. They must have been passing through. I really like this painted gate in the upper gardens (photo right).

Down near the river were titmice, downy woodpeckers, cardinals, juncos and chickadees.

Checked out the meadow. Mostly  juncos and chickadees. I love this view of the JCC from there. Haynes is right though. It is turning into something other than a meadow. We may want to talk to someone about that. I ran into Haynes on my way out. He hadn't been there long. I'll be curious to see what he sees.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Robins Everywhere!

A bit drizzly today and not too cold, but the birds seemed awfully excited that it wasn't pouring rain. They were all very sociable and chasing each other around. The robin numbers seem to increase each time I go back. There's one in this first picture - they love their puddles!

Also in the gardens were goldfinches (picture to right), cardinals, an American tree sparrow, juncos, blue jays, chickadees and mockingbirds. Also saw one of those mystery birds that drive me crazy! A plump little olivey yellow bird. It did flick it's tail a fair amount, but I really didn't think it was a kinglet. It didn't do any of those gymnastics and it had no eye ring. It seemed rather warbleresque. My second thought was a female yellow throat. I just don't know but it definitely looked interesting.

Upper gardens very quiet and by now it started pouring. Hopped in the car and drove around to the Nahanton Street entrance. Checked out meadow, pond and river area. Mostly titmice, juncos, cardinals and robins but did see 4-5 cedar waxwings in a tree near the river. They are so beautiful.

Did a very brief nest count of easily viewable nests and quickly came up with 8 in the lower gardens, 2 in the upper gardens, 2 in the meadow, 1 near the pond and 5 near the river. That's 18 nests at a glance!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

A nice fall day. 50 degrees and sunny at 7:30 a.m. First stop was the lower gardens where I was very excited to see an American tree sparrow. Haynes pointed one out last weekend and I forgot to mention it, but here they were! Saw a few song sparrows and goldfinches, but it was relatively quiet. Lots of nests showing now. I'm not sure who made some of them, so if you have any ideas, let me know.

While walking the path to the upper gardens the wind came up and blew a bunch of oak leaves up into the bright blue sky where they whirled around like large pieces of confetti! It was really pretty. Lots of chickadees and a white throated sparrow foraging on the ground. I could hear several sparrows in the wildflower field, but they were mostly hidden. A large group of juncos were diving and chasing around the upper gardens as well as a mockingbird chasing a cardinal. I see that some gardeners have planted their winter rye and it's coming up.

Down by the river was the red bellied woodpecker, some robins and lots of juncos. I saw a tree where I knew the orioles had nested, but now see a second nest of a different type of bird (about mid-way up) - a double decker! Watch out for the tics. Somehow, I had four or five on my leg and I have no idea where they came from. November seems to be especially bad for tics like early spring.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

November Reprieve

48 degrees at 7:15 a.m. and a very comfortable warm sunny day. New England at its best. I've been arriving earlier in hopes of catching a glimpse of the deer that Ian saw, but no such luck so far.

Quickly perused the lower gardens and saw juncos, goldfinches, song sparrows, cardinals, mockers, robins, chickadees, titmice, jays and one white throated sparrow. Then headed to the upper gardens hoping the deer might be up there. I saw a downy woodpecker in every conceivable position looking for something good to eat.

Went to the pond where the few bits of ice were melted and saw three mallards, two males and a female and then headed down to the Charles in search of Great Blue! He wasn't there. Headed over to the meadow looking for the cedar waxwings that David said he saw yesterday, but no such luck. Only saw lots of juncos and some cardinals except for a mystery bird that appeared in some brush right in front of me. It was a small bird (about sparrow or junco size) and it was a smooth red-brownish gray color with what I thought was a little white below its cheeks. It had a white breast with very rufous spots on the top part. It was not in my book at all so it must be something normal that I am not recognizing. It almost looked like a miniature thrush of some sort, but I know there is no such thing. Only wishing Haynes or someone was there.

Saw the heron flying overhead and figured it was heading to the pond, so I did too and there it was!!!!! I love that bird. Just as I headed back on the path towards the soccer fields a huge hawk (which I'm sure I've seen several times) landed on a tree branch. It's the one without the red tail - the one Haynes keeps telling me is a juvenile, but it must be a female because it is enormous. Also heard the red bellied woodpecker, but couldn't see it.

Then who did I run into, but Haynes in the upper gardens. Of course I had to ask him about the mystery bird. When I left, he was going to check it out, but that's a long shot at best. Let us know what you saw today Haynes, if you have time.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

First Official Hard Frost!

At 7:00 a.m. today it was 29 degrees. Had to scrape off my car before I left for the park.

Our usual friends were in the lower gardens. Lots of blue jays, and lots of juncos. Ian's one has turned into many! The robins are back in a big way. They were surprisingly scarce the last few months. Saw our large family of house finches, goldfinches, titmice, mockingbirds and chickadees. I heard a huge racket and discovered what must have been  hundreds of blackbirds gathered in the woods between the gardens and the golf course. They are definitely gathering for their migration.

The upper gardens seemed very quiet. All I saw were a few goldfinches, a male cardinal and a single white throated sparrow and I guess some bluejays and robins.

I took the path through the woods to the path near the soccer fields and was so happy to see that the ruby crowned kinglet is still around in the exact same location that I have seen it before. Despite the cold, it was a beautiful sunny morning and it was so quiet that you could actually hear the leaves falling, gold and glittering in the sun. The pond had areas that were starting to freeze, but no ducks today.

Met a gardener/birder Dave who told me there was a great blue heron down by the Charles. Of course I zipped down there and there he was looking rather cold - all fluffed up and preening. You could see his reflection in the water and it was all framed with a curving bough of a birch which was also reflected. If I had a better camera, it would have been a great picture.

Woodcock meadow had tons of juncos and David said he saw cedar waxwings there as well. As I was leaving I saw a bunch of crows mobbing a hawk. Saw Ian's car and knew that he was somewhere... What did you see Ian? I hope you will post today.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Saturday Oct 31 - "Lucy" and my first Junco

It was very mild early on Saturday morning but extremely quiet in the gardens and elsewhere. I did see Lucy - the leucistic Song Sparrow - in the upper garden, along with a couple of deer who did not seem to mind me passing 20 feet from them.

On a second tour of the lower gardens I saw my first junco of the season with a group of white-throated sparrows.

Typical November...

40's, raw and drizzly. Hopefully it will clear up, but for now, it's typical November weather.

The park seemed dead quiet. All I could muster in the lower gardens were a few white throated sparrows, a blue jay, mockingbird, and a few song sparrows. The upper gardens seemed awfully quiet too. Managed to see a cardinal, goldfinches, possibly a swamp sparrow. Then there was a flurry of activity and some golden crowned kinglets were flitting all around as well as a ruby crowned kinglet. The golden crowns were very striking.

The most activity seemed to be on the path to the soccer fields. There I saw more ruby crowned and golden crowned kinglets - so busy they almost looked like hummingbirds. Lots of chickadees, titmice and more white throated and song sparrows and two gorgeous red bellied woodpeckers. Two pairs of mallards in the pond.