Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend Update

It was 35 degrees this morning at 7:15 a.m.

I got to the park early today in hopes of seeing a deer. As I got out of the car, I thought I saw a dog with a white tail dip into the woods near the path to the upper gardens. I was hoping it was the fox, but it seemed too large. I decided not to follow it but to see if it was near the swamp area so I headed to the path near the beehives because it has a great view of the area - being high on a hill. As I stood there, I heard some crunching noises in the woods. Expecting to see a squirrel, I turned my head and saw a flash of a white tail again. It was a lone deer feeding in the brush. I got to watch it for quite some time as it meandered around the backside of the upper gardens, but it kept to the brush so I couldn't get a decent picture. Something made me wonder if it was the young deer I had seen on its own earlier in the summer down near the soccer field.

Red-Tailed Hawk
As I was watching it, I saw a flash of white wings and thought maybe our owl was present. Decided to go down near the soccer field and look in the woods near the river where I thought it might be. As I looked into the woods near the pond, I saw this large creature in the distance on a branch and hoped for an owl. However, it was a red-tailed hawk. To get a better picture I bush-wacked my way through that awful cat briar. This photo can not do its size justice. It was enormous and sat on this branch for quite some time until it became interested in something and flew off to chase it.

I ran into Haynes around 9:00. Hadn't seen him for some time. We walked the upper gardens together. Saw several tree sparrows, goldfinches, juncos, cardinals, chickadees, house finches, titmice and song sparrows. Of course we saw a few robins and blue jays as well. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Getting Cold!

American Tree Sparrow
It was 35 degrees this morning at around 8:00 a.m. Partial clouds and sun, but feeling quite chilly.

Several geese were flying in small groups overhead and I think I know where they were going as I saw a large group grazing at the golf course on my way to the park! Guess the word was out about the delicious grass.

Otherwise, the lower gardens had titmice, tree sparrows, goldfinches and juncos, all hanging out together. Of course we also had a mourning dove, blue jays, robins and a male downy woodpecker.

The upper gardens were as quiet as I've seen. I don't think I even saw one bird, but I noticed that the bees have been put to bed for the winter. Each bee hive box has been covered with its insulating black rubber jacket and kept in place with a red belt!

I saw a puddle that had ice in it as well as seeing that the pond was partially frozen. The mallards were all at the far end today as well as some little birds that were darting around on the ice. Couldn't quite tell what they were - possibly sparrows. I didn't realize it was cold enough for ice. Some of the ground seemed frozen, even though that hasn't happened at my house just down the street. Microclimates are very strange.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

American Tree Sparrows Back!

Well, today was the first day I had to truly scrape the frost off my windshield! It was thin, but it was there. 35 degrees at around 7:15 a.m. Sunny and pleasant.

The meadow has been mowed (yesterday) and was covered in white frost as well as the edges of grasses and leaves. It was very pretty.

The upper and lower gardens were fairly quiet. There were chickadees, robins, blue jays, juncos, titmice and goldfinches.

I ran into Ian, and we both agreed, the big excitement was the reappearance of the American tree sparrows who will be wintering over here until spring. I love their little chirping noises and their indian red caps are beautiful. They were hanging out with song sparrows and goldfinches in the upper gardens, feeding on weeds on the edge of the woods. The goldfinches were a large group and outnumbered the others considerably. A single seagull flew overhead as well as a small group of crows.

I took a quick look at the pond, which is finally filled with some water and equally filled with at least 10 pairs of mallards. One pair was secluded together, resting under some branches overhanging the water but the others were very active and social. Wish I knew what they were thinking. Are they really paired up, or is this the beginning of the negotiations?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sharpie Attack

It was 41 degrees at around 7:30 a.m. this morning and overcast.

In the lower gardens, there were juncos. chickadees, goldfinches and titmice, but didn't even see a sparrow - not even a song sparrow which is most unusual.

I heard a lot of noise coming from the brush in the lower gardens that parallels Winchester Street. The blue jays were upset. And then every once in a while, I'd hear a loud squawk. Went over to check it out and found what I think must have been a sharpie (as it was not much bigger than the jays). It was absolutely on the attack. They would all fly from tree to tree and the sharpie was in hot pursuit.

I didn't have the patience to wait it out or the desire to see anything too brutal so not sure if the sharpie was successful or not.

The photo below, left, shows the jays with the sharpie silhouette in the upper right, so you can see the size comparison.

The upper gardens were also filled with juncos and chickadees and not much else, at least while I was there. Pretty quiet in general.