Monday, December 28, 2009

High Excitement!

30 degrees and slightly overcast. Not much going on in the lower gardens. Upper gardens was a different story! Chickadees, mockingbirds, downies, nuthatch, goldfinches, house finches, tree sparrows, white-throated sparrows, blue jays and song sparrows. Then, I saw our bluebird! Can we now say that he must winter over here? While I was watching, he checked out three bird houses and then ended up in the big tree in the upper gardens surveying his territory.

Now that was enough for me, but I needed some exercise and decided to walk down the path from the gardens by the beehives into the woods and around by the Charles. I had only walked ten to twenty feet when I couldn't help but notice this very large presence right in front of me. Now I know this can't be the great horned owl. I would have to guess the barred owl, but the book said they have a brownish look to them and this seemed more white with brown streaks. At any rate, it was absolutely spectacular and very accommodating as he/she let me take it's picture!

I did the loop around the Charles and on my way back through the soccer fields I saw a group of titmice munching on berries, some robins and what I think may have been a hairy woodpecker. It seemed larger then the downy, and the beak seemed a little different, but seeing as how I am not an expert, I won't commit 100%.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Finally, the Deer!

It's rainy, but actually pretty warm. 48-50 degrees from 7:15 a.m. - 8:15 a.m. I was figuring that if I was a deer, what better day to be out and about. Hopefully, most humans will be home in bed.

And there they were! I saw two at the first bend in the road in the woods between Nahanton and the JCC. They checked me out carefully, but didn't seem too afraid - just cautious. Later, I realized there were four deer as two of them turned white tail and went behind some bushes.

It was pretty quiet today although I did see quite a few chickadees in some brush across from the deer as well as several tree sparrows and juncos down near the soccer field. They love the seeds on the edge of the path.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Bird Count

Well, the Christmas Bird Count was indeed cancelled last weekend, but it was rescheduled for today!

I was up at 4:45 to consider going on the owl walk first but I looked outside and just couldn't get myself up and out into the dark and cold. But I was able to go to the Bird Count at 7:30 a.m. We had a decent turnout and everyone broke into groups.

I ended up in a group with Pete Gilmore and Brian. Our territory was Cold Spring Park, Crystal Lake, City Hall, Bullough's Pond, Newton Cemetery and Newton Center Playground. We spent quite a bit of time trekking around Cold Spring which was fun. Immediately upon our arrival, Pete, who knew exactly where to look, found one of the owls they had seen earlier high up in a pine tree - so I got to see my owl after all. It was a Great Horned owl and it really was GREAT! Absolutely enormous and we got to look at it for a few minutes and then it flew away. We saw many of the winter regulars as well as kinglets, a white throated sparrow and a red bellied woodpecker.

Crystal Lake was pretty well frozen, so we didn't stay long there although we tried again on the way home, but still not much luck. Then on to City Hall where we saw a pair of white throated sparrows, some mallards, chickadees etc. and a Cooper's hawk in a yard across the street from City Hall. Later, when we drove by City Hall again, we saw a large Red-tailed hawk hanging out on the white tower of City Hall.

The Newton Cemetery was pretty quiet. Lots of blue jays, chickadees and house finches.

We explored Bullough's pond as well. Saw a few juncos and some Canadian geese and figured that would be it as the pond was pretty well frozen but as we drove around, Brian spotted a small patch of open water. We got out of the car and were very excited to see the Eurasian Teal that others have seen as well as a hooded merganser hanging out with some mallards! We figure that this has to be the same Eurasian Teal that was seen at Cold Spring Park this spring. Not clear on whether he is still with his female mallard or not, but what a great sight!

Last stop was the Newton Center Playground. We were really trying to get up to 30 species as we already had 28. Finally, Pete spotted a flicker which brought us to 29. Desperately searching for one more species, and having pretty much given up, just as we arrived at the car Pete spotted a pigeon flying overhead. We made it to 30!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hawk in Lower Gardens

About 21 degrees at 8:30 a.m. and overcast. Pretty chilly, but thanks to Ian, I am wearing wool pants today and am very comfortable.

On arrival to the lower gardens I saw a large shape in the trees bordering the golf course and the lower gardens. Yes, it was a hawk. I've made an assumption that it was a red-tailed hawk and just as I honed in on it with the binoculars it flew off. the ends of it's wings curled up as it flew off to another tree. Saw some blue jays, robins, chicka-dees, tree sparrows and mockingbirds.

In the upper gardens I saw that the bee hives have been put to bed! Maybe they were a while ago and I didn't notice.  At any rate, the first little creature I saw as I walked up the path was a male downy woodpecker very busy for himself high up in a tree. There was a beautiful pair of cardinals in the big tree in the middle of the gardens chip chipping away. Lots of tree sparrows and goldfinches foraging. The tree sparrows (pictured to right) and a song sparrow or two were very busy on the ground today, poking around in the gardens looking for something decent to eat.

The pond is pretty well frozen now. Saw a herd of juncos between the path and the pond as well as some goldfinches. They seemed to be hanging out together.

The Christmas Bird Count is tomorrow. A Nor' Easter is forecasted for tonight and tomorrow. I really hope they don't cancel it...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's Really Cold!

20 degrees and though I'm dressed for it, I know I'm not going to last too long out here.

I heard chickadees as I entered the lower gardens and spot this mockingbird and a flock of very puffed up goldfinches. I feel so bad for them. It must have been a nasty night. It's amazing to me how these tiny little creatures survive this kind of cold - and of course it will get colder yet.... They certainly have a lot of fortitude. And there's a song sparrow fat as can be making little peeping noises as well as an American tree sparrow flitting about. I know where I'd be if I was a bird in this cold - inside one of the bird houses scattered around or inside a cavity in a tree!

The deer have been here as I can see the cloven hoof prints in the snow( pictured above). I'm still hoping to catch a glimpse of them. Upper gardens pretty quiet.  Winter is definitely making its presence known. A downy woodpecker, a nuthatch and a noisy blue jay are the only other birds I see as I wind my way down to the river and back through the Woodcock meadow.

The pond is lightly frozen over and the river is starting to freeze near its banks. One day last year, I went down to the river and saw a large frozen carp staring at me through the ice. Very creepy. Hope all the fish are safely buried in the muck of the river.

Sunny Sunday

Sunny morning, still and cold.

1 Canada Goose
4 Blue Jay
1 American Crow
8 Black-capped Chickadee
4 Tufted Titmouse
3 White-breasted Nuthatch
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
1 American Robin
3 Northern Mockingbird
3 American Tree Sparrow
11 Song Sparrow
14 Dark-eyed Junco
2 Northern Cardinal
4 House Finch
8 American Goldfinch

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Tree Sparrows and Goldfinches

7:15 a.m. and 42 degrees. Pretty gray out. Rain predicted for this afternoon and then turning to snow this evening.

The lower gardens is covered with goldfinches. They have covered a certain kind of wildflower in a large patch and it's so quiet you can hear them munching and foraging around! There are too many for me to count.

The upper gardens had several tree sparrows and a song sparrow concentrated in one garden that they seemed very enamored of. There was something delicious in there and it was fun to watch them congregating and munching and talking to each other. It was like a social club! Caught a glimpse of the red-bellied woodpecker on the edge of the woods next to the path. The squawking mocker was there as well and it became his mission to chase a bright red cardinal all around the garden. There were blue jays, robins, and nuthatches in various areas of the park, but that's all I saw.

I ran into Ian right before I had to leave, and he had seen a golden-crowned kinglet in the lower gardens!