Sunday, September 26, 2010

From Herons in Trees to Plant Communities

The weather ranged from the 70's early Saturday morning to the high 50's this morning! Quite a variation, but luckily today felt much warmer then the temperature showed.

This weekend had all our regulars, plus some really nice sightings. Saturday included a black throated green warbler, and some white-throated sparrows in the lower gardens. Saw some interesting looking sparrows, but couldn't identify them. One house wren is still around and there seemed to be lots of titmice flitting about. Also saw 3-4 chimney swifts flying overhead and a huge flock of blackbirds.

Today, Jane and Haynes were there and we walked around together. Before they arrived, I am fairly certain that I saw a few black & white warblers in the trees right near the parking lot. Thought I saw a vireo (only because of it's eyestripe), but I think it was determined later that it may have been a chipping sparrow with strong white eyebrows. The chippers were pretty active and did a lot of chasing and diving. It was all getting a little confusing because of course the birds wouldn't sit still.

We saw chickadees, song sparrows, and apparently the juncos blew in last night because the lower gardens were covered with them. The white-throated sparrows were still there with catbirds, house wren, house finches, a phoebe, bluejays and cardinals. Haynes honed in on a towhee call, but we never located it. We also managed to see a white crowned sparrow! As we were about to head to the upper gardens, Jane spotted a blue heron flying overhead and then it landed in a large tree in the woods between the lower gardens and golf course (pictured top left). It is still hard for me to believe these large creatures can perch in trees.

In the upper gardens we saw a gorgeous male American redstart with his black and bright orange plumage. No dulled down colors for him. Also saw a red-tailed hawk flying near the forest edge.

At 10:30 was a great walk led by Jon Regosin about plant communities at Nahanton Park. Jon is extremely knowledgeable and it was amazing to learn of all the diversity we have at the park and the actual names of the plants, shrubs and trees that we see so often. We saw royal ferns, dogbane, little blue stem grass, fresh water mussels (in the river) button bush and wintergreen to name just a few.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

New Arrivals Continue

Today was wonderfully pleasant and cool. The feel of early fall is in the air as little drops of dew are edging most flowers and grasses early in the morning. I was only at the park a few minutes when Haynes arrived and shortly afterwards Jane appeared. Eventually a fellow named Glenn joined us as well. In a way it seemed quiet, but on the other hand we actually saw quite a lot! In the lower gardens we saw goldfinches, song sparrows, chickadees, catbirds, robins, bluejays and a common yellowthroat.

However, we had some new migrant friends such as a beautiful Nashville warbler and some Savannah sparrows (pictured right). There were several house finches and much discussion about the difference between the house finch and the purple finch. A house wren was heard scolding in the scrub and a group of cowbirds were seen high in a tree. Haynes spotted an indigo bunting which was very drab and barely a hint of blue on its sides and tail tip. A young red-tailed hawk flew right overhead and we had a wonderful look at it. Very elegant and powerful.

Jane had seen something with a white tail earlier and thought it was a fox. As we were about to head up the path, there it was - trotting across the path and then it disappeared in the brush. We have now had several sightings as has Duane Hillis who lives next door. So this is our Nahanton fox.

In the upper gardens we were excited to see that some white throated sparrows have arrived and we had a great view of a red-eyed vireo that was gorging on the grapes towards the back of the gardens. A small warbler was barely seen and Glenn thought it might be a Canada warbler, but it disappeared into the bushes and we couldn't confirm one way or the other what it was.

Jane had heard a barred owl last night outside her house in Auburndale, so we decided to take the swamp trail to see if we might see our Nahanton barred owl, but we didn't see anything.

Can't wait to see what next weekend will bring.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Yellow Chat and Exciting Weekend Updates!

Early Saturday morning I ran into Ian. It was sunny and cool, but very pleasant. Together we saw a Wilson's warbler, an American redstart, a pine warbler and a female common yellowthroat in the scrub near the mulberry tree on the path to the upper gardens. Very exciting! I had never seen a Wilson's warbler before and all I knew was that this bird was bright yellow with a black cap. I looked it up and on seeing the picture, I was sure that's what I had seen! I'm so glad Ian came along and got to confirm my sighting.

Then Haynes arrived and we all explored the lower and upper gardens together. We saw our usual friends: chickadees, blue jays, catbirds, cardinals, goldfinches, robins, titmice, house finches, song sparrows and possibly a juvenile male yellow throat.

As we headed to the upper gardens, we came across 5 deer in the meadow. They were curious about us, but a little frightened, and bounded off into the woods. I think Ian saw a palm warbler and we heard and saw some very vocal white breasted nuthatches on the trees bordering the path. Haynes and Ian spotted the red fox which immediately dashed into the woods following the deer. Our friend "Lucy" the leucisistic song sparrow was on view on the fence of one of the gardens. She is one song sparrow we can keep track of. Saw mourning doves, mockingbirds and then a beautiful Coopers hawk (pictured right) circling around near the back of the upper gardens. Also saw an Eastern phoebe and another American redstart down in the soccer field area. Pond was quiet.

Today, I went early to see if I could catch the deer or the fox before the sun really came out. I was there around 6:45 a.m.. I saw another car and it had an Audubon sticker on it, so I knew another birdwatcher was nearby! It was Bev in the lower gardens. She told me a yellow breasted chat had been seen yesterday and she was hoping to see it. She also warned me that lots of birders would be coming to check it out. And so they did!

I didn't see much in the upper gardens, so I headed down below. Ran into Haynes who was hoping to see the chat. Also discovered that Mary Lou and friend were there too looking for the chat. Then Ian arrived as well. We spotted the chat in a bush in the middle of the gardens and then it flew to the brush that borders the parking lot. Got a great view of it, but couldn't get a picture. It just vanished into thin air! Eventually, everyone got to see it and we were all thrilled.

Hope this is an indicator of an exciting fall migration!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Beautiful morning, still enough to make movement easy to see.
The river is still ridiculously low, but at least the cars are covered.

Gray fox (front left corner of upper garden)
Red fox (pond)
White-tailed Deer, fawn at W St parking lot.

Observation date: 9/6/10
Notes: Still, sun, 60 deg.

Chimney Swift 1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 4
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Downy Woodpecker 3
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) 2
Eastern Phoebe 1
Warbling Vireo 1
Red-eyed Vireo 1
Blue Jay 12
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 1
Black-capped Chickadee 6
Tufted Titmouse 6
White-breasted Nuthatch 3
House Wren 2
American Robin 20
Gray Catbird 12
Northern Mockingbird 1
Northern Parula 2
Yellow Warbler 1
American Redstart 5
Common Yellowthroat 2
Song Sparrow 8 song fragment
Northern Cardinal 2
Common Grackle 2
American Goldfinch 3

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Blessed Relief!

Finally, some nice weather!!! Humidity gone. Dry, comfortable and sunny. The birds seemed happier too. I went to the park Saturday and ran into Ian. We basically had almost the same sightings as Haynes only we didn't see the merlin or the redstart.

The low river was quite a sight - old cars and metal parts were sticking out in various places. From overflowing banks in the spring to this - it certainly has been quite a spring and summer. Ian asked one of the Charles River Canoe employees what was going on. Apparently the state had ordered a lowering of the water level in the Charles in case the hurricane should cause flooding.

Ian and I had to perform an emergency rescue with this poor dragonfly. It had gotten it's head and legs caught in this netting. At Ian's suggestion, we eased it backwards and were able to free it. It had the most beautiful coloring.

 I went back today and saw a fox on the road heading toward the soccer field. It saw me and high tailed it into the woods. I think I have seen it enough times to consider it an official Nahanton Park resident.

Today saw our usual friends: blue jays, robins, mockingbirds, flickers, red-bellied, downy and flicker woodpeckers, catbirds, yellow throat females, titmice, goldfinches, song sparrows and a Baltimore oriole. I was happy to see the American Redstart down near the soccer field and I think it was a male because it was darker, but it still had the beautiful blush of yellow color on its sides.

The chickadees were having a blast with these sunflowers. It was a real party! I watched them for a long time while they socialized and performed all kinds of acrobatics as they attempted to extract the seeds from the heads.

For anyone new reading this blog, The Friends of Nahanton Park has a new website. They have a list of walks and activities this fall and it looks like a great lineup!
Click here to view The Friends of Nahanton Park Website.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A year of highs and lows for the Charles

After tropical storm Earl passed, I thought I'd check out the Park
this morning, Sept 4. When I got there it was still but the breeze
soon picked up a bit.

Somebody had pulled the plug on the Charles. It was a ditch with
a small amount of brown water at the bottom. The dock was resting
on the bank.

Merlin 1 Circling at medium height
Downy Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) 12 incl 7 on soccer field
Eastern Phoebe 2
Warbling Vireo 1
Blue Jay 12
Black-capped Chickadee 3
Tufted Titmouse 1
House Wren 2
Veery 1
American Robin 15
Gray Catbird 10
Northern Mockingbird 9 one in song
American Redstart 1
Common Yellowthroat 5
Song Sparrow 10
American Goldfinch 6

Post-script to earlier report:
On Aug 1 I reported hearing a Ruby-crowned Kinglet at this site.
I didn't see the bird, and after listening to some tapes I think
that perhaps an American Goldfinch fooled me then as it has in
different ways before.