Sunday, March 28, 2010

Grackles galore

I missed the Bluebirds that Suzette saw earlier today in the lower garden, but I did see, and hear singing, a couple of Fox Sparrows there.

Way over behind the Woodcock field, up against Kendrick St, there's a flooded area - a vernal pool, I suppose. There were a pair of Brown Creepers working the flooded trees there, along with Downy Woodpecker and White-breasted Nuthatch.

A large and noisy flock of Common Grackles invaded from the JCC. I estimate between 300 and 400 birds.

A couple of Tree Sparrows are still hanging around, and one chilly looking Tree Swallow was perched on a post in the upper garden.

Close Encounters of the Blue Kind

It's sunny today but only 29 degrees at 7:00 a.m. The bluebird couple appeared right away in the lower gardens. I know that Ian and Haynes had seen them recently so I was excited to see them as well.

Didn't have too much time to spend at Nahanton today. Looked for the owl, but no sightings. The woods are still so flooded that you can't take the path behind the upper gardens down to the river.

Mostly heard and saw our usual friends i.e., cardinals, blue jays, juncos, goldfinches, robins, our woodpeckers, chickadees, song sparrows etc.

I spent most of my time watching the bluebirds today. As I mentioned, first I saw them down in the lower gardens, but then as I came out of the swamp trail, I saw one of them on their bird box from last year. I watched for quite some time as the female first sat on the box for a long period of time and then kept looking in the hole and checking everything out. I wonder what she was thinking. He was on a shrub nearby keeping an eye on everything.

Eventually, they both flew off to some scrub near the path to the lower gardens. I followed them and was able to see them both together in this bush. Also saw them forage around on the ground a bit. I'm curious to see how things develop, because Haynes thinks there may be two pairs. Wouldn't that be great if they both nested here this year?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Woodcocks Dance!!!

I have just received this fabulous photo from Ilija Dukovski - a nature lover and fantastic photographer. It takes someone really skilled to get a night time photo like this.

For some reason, this woodcock reminds me of a comedian, sitting back, sizing up the audience and getting ready to deliver a great one-liner!

While this is chronologically out of order, it is so exciting!

As far as I know there were two very successful woodcock expeditions at Nahanton Park this week. The first one was Wednesday evening and included Jane, Haynes, Chris, Pete and Brian. The woodcocks were seen in all their glory on top of Woodcock meadow and I think Brian mentioned that he also saw them on the soccer field. It was Jane's first sighting and it was quite an amazing experience. If any of you want to write more on the blog yourselves, please contact me.

The second viewing was Friday evening. I met Jane there and while we were waiting on top of the hill, Alison appeared and then shortly after came Eric and then Ilija and his family. Shortly after 7:00, we heard our first "peeent". Jane found the general area and then Eric was able to spot it. Lucky for us, it was still light enough that we all got a good, long look at it. It was so camouflaged that if you took your eyes off it for one second it was hard to find it again.

It turned out to be a great night. Alison thought there were at least 4 males in the area. At times, they were flying low, right over our heads but also saw them fly high into the air, come down and then land. There were a few bats as well and that got a little confusing for me in the beginning. All in all, it was a great show!

First Day of Spring!

Today was sunny and about 51 degrees at 7:45. The park was filled with our regulars, all very busy and excited. A pair of mallards has moved in to the flooded swamp for the time being. Song sparrows are perched everywhere singing like crazy. The cardinals are often high up in the trees singing as well. A goldfinch down by the river in transitional feather garb was pouring his heart out for all to hear. The red winged blackbird I've been hearing is now visible to me across the river and screeching it's buzzy song. And I'm sure he is surrounded by many friends now.

My big treat down by the river was a little golden-crowned kinglet flitting here and high up in a tree. The path is still quite flooded, but slowly receding.

I am very excited to hear about Haynes' bluebird and tree swallow sightings. Two pairs? Wouldn't that be fantastic? Ian saw the bluebirds yesterday as well. The register has brand new pages in it for the first day of spring if anyone wants to write in it.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Saturday, March 20 - sunny and warming: The Eastern Bluebirds are back - seen investigating boxes in the upper garden and in trees at the lower garden, with lots of song. There may be two pairs. Also a lone Tree Swallow was overhead. Lot of Juncos still around, and a couple of American Tree Sparrows. Male Brown-headed Cowbirds strutting in the treetops.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I think we have a resident owl!

Today started out at about 33 degrees at 7:00 and by the time I left the park at 8:45 a.m. it was 46 degrees and sunny. We needed this preview of spring so badly! I'm sure the birds feel the same.

Heading down to the river I saw our usual friends; nuthatches, goldfinches, chickadees, cardinals etc. The river was filled with its winter inhabitants as well as the first blackbirds that have returned. I heard the red-bellied, flickers and downies. Saw a mallard pair in the river, mourning doves and robins. I was going to go up the back way to the gardens and forgot from last week how flooded it was. You can't get through on the path, so I attempted some bush wacking. First, got tangled up in the cat briar and then realized the flooding was everywhere and I just couldn't get through.

Hit the upper gardens first. The back side of the upper gardens was thrumming with juncos, cardinals, song sparrows and goldfinches. Saw this little guy singing his heart out. I think he might have been a youngster because his song sounded a little funny!

As I headed down to the lower gardens, I heard some strange noises coming from the swamp area. I thought it sounded like someone chopping down trees and I was concerned. Normally, I would never head down to the swamp as I am terrified of the tics and West Nile mosquitos, but I knew they couldn't possibly be out yet. I didn't realize the path was so easy to walk on this time of year and I headed right down to the swamp edge. I passed a tree and heard a disturbance. Looked up and there was a large bird that fluttered off to a nearby tree. I couldn't believe it. It was our barred owl!!!!!! Since this is my second sighting, I am hopeful that we have a resident! Again, it was very pleasant and didn't mind at all that I took its picture from the front and back!

I continued to hear these cracking noises, but could see absolutely no sign of people or animals or anything. I'm wondering if it was ice cracking but it sounded so loud. Any ideas?

I ran into the photographer Ilya who reminded me that we are almost upon woodcock mating season.

Just as I got to my car and had my binoculars and camera packed away, I saw a large bird in the woods flying from tree to tree as the crows chased it. It was a hawk of some sort. Even when I managed to get my binoculars out, I was a little too far to positively identify. It was funny, because other birds looked on and followed the action just like we do when we see a car accident on the road.