Monday, December 26, 2011

Very Quiet at Park. Luckily, Had Some Turkey Fun!

It was 34 degrees at about 8:00 a.m. The meadow has now been mowed, but the park was very quiet today. All I saw were some robins, a cardinal couple, a few song sparrows, a junco, some geese flying and a seagull.

Therefore, I decided to pursue a new interest - a flock of wild turkeys that has been roosting in the trees on a street nearby. Since I recently saw the movie on Channel 2 "My Life As a Turkey" ( a documentary about Joe Hutto, a naturalist who raised a flock of 16 wild turkeys from egg to adulthood), I've been more and more curious about this local flock.

After leaving the park, I knew they would have left their roosts and wondered where they go during the day. Today, I discovered them in a Rachel Road resident's side yard. Here is a very short video of the turkeys.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Bird Count

Richard, Haynes and Greg
Today was the Christmas Bird Count.!

We met at Chris' house at 7:00 a.m. Some of the group had already gone owling and had seen screech owls at Kennard Park. It always sounds so exciting, but I can't get myself up and out by 5:00 a.m. on these dark, freezing cold mornings. Some day, I'll get it together…

After coffee and delicious coffee cake, the birders broke into several groups and covered specific areas. I was in a group with Haynes, Richard and Greg.

Red-tail Hawk
It was only in the 20's but we held out for four hours of birding. We covered Kennard Park, Newton South, Hammond Pond and Houghton Gardens. We had a great time! I won't list all the birds we saw today because most of them were our regulars. However, we did see a nice red-tail hawk at Newton South, huddled in a tree. In fact several of the birds looked awfully cold - all puffed up and hanging out in trees and shrubs.

I would say our most exciting moment was when we arrived at Hammond Pond. I think it was Greg who spotted a blue heron. It turned out there were three of them! We also saw several hooded mergansers looking absolutely spectacular as well as a ring-necked duck and some gulls. We had seen one of the herons fly off and we discovered it later as we walked around the pond. It was looking very chilly on a tree branch. For us humans, the winds across the pond were almost unbearable. The woods were much more tolerable.

Chilly Blue Heron
In the Houghton Gardens area, we were pleased to see two hairy woodpeckers. Deeper in, Haynes pointed out a golden crowned kinglet flitting about and then a brown creeper that we were fortunate enough to have several good sightings of.

As we were leaving, I was happy to see all three herons together. Whether you're a bird or a birder, it's nice to have friends to hang out with on a day as cold as this.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Gardening Season Officially Over

This friendly pumpkin was left
on a rock to greet people?
Arrived at the park around 8:15 a.m. It was 32 degrees and clear. Right away, I noticed that the gate to the gardens was closed and locked, marking the official end to the community gardening season.

The meadow has not been mowed as it usually is in November, even though we were informed it would be. Perhaps they are just late. I'm sure the birds are happy about the delay.

It was a pretty quiet day in general. Everything was covered in frost but slowly started melting as I walked around. I saw several house finches, juncos, goldfinches, robins, a few white throated sparrows, and some tree sparrows as well as a few chickadees.

Down by the river I saw two mallard couples reminding me that ducks can be really fun to watch for soon.

Got word today that the Christmas Bird Count will be December 18th. Stay tuned for more details.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Last Flowers Standing

Weekend Update: Saturday was 47 degrees and Sunday, a cooler 33 degrees.

It's pretty quiet at the park. The most active area seems to be the lower part of the upper gardens near the meadow.

Between Saturday and Sunday, I saw house finches, song sparrows, robins, white throated sparrows, my first American tree sparrows of the season, lots of goldfinches, cardinals, tufted titmice, chickadees and a blue jay. Also, had a nice but brief sighting of a cedar waxwing couple in the Mulberry tree.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Some Nice Surprises!

Bluebird Male
Bluebird Female

It was 50 degrees this morning! Not bad for November. Very pleasant and sunny.

The woods at the parking lot looked dramatically different today. They looked like they were all cleared out! It took me a minute or two to realize that all the leaves had fallen off the oak trees and now you could see right through.

The lower gardens were very quiet so  headed to the upper gardens.

A flock of goldfinches flew out of the artemesia in the meadow as I headed up. There were several song sparrows, and some house finches and then I saw something blue. I only caught a glimpse of it, but I was sure it was a bluebird and then it disappeared. I couldn't have been happier, when 5-10 minutes later, it appeared on top of the favorite purple bird house along with two females. I have to think these are our bluebirds. It makes me feel better. Saw a few juncos, but literally only a few. A brilliant red cardinal appeared and a female downy in the woods at the back of the gardens as well as a few robins.

Hermit Thrush
Then Mary Lou appeared! She saw a hermit thrush, which of course I missed. However, as we headed around the path, she spotted the same or another hermit thrush in the leaves on the ground with a beautiful fox sparrow and a couple of white throated sparrows. We followed them into the woods and got to watch them for quite a while. They were like a little gang, going everywhere together.
Hermit Thrush Eating Berry
We walked down to the pond seeing virtually nothing, but when I turned around to head back I saw yet another? hermit thrush having a field day with some bittersweet. Did we see one, two, or three hermit thrushes today? We'll never know...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In Transition

Wild Grasses
It was chilly out, but not as cold as it could be, so I was grateful.

Before I even got started, something made me want to check the Bird Register. I was really excited to see that birdwatchers, Scott and Aviva are back from Israel! Scott was the first one I knew about in Newton to start a birding blog and I've missed his sightings and writings! Welcome back you guys! Hope you had a great time and can't wait to hear about the birds you saw.

Many leaves are off the trees. The maples that are left are a beautiful orange and the oaks are their usual dreary brown with the leaves still clinging. Most of the vegetables and flowers are dead making things look a little sad and lonely.

The upper and lower gardens were pretty quiet except for our regulars. I saw lots of juncos, song sparrows, a few white throated sparrows and a few robins. The evening primroses are still proving to be a great attraction for the goldfinches which are now all sporting their winter coats.

As I was about to head home, I noticed that it was quite sunny down near the soccer field. If I was a bird, I guess that's where I'd be, so I headed down there.

Downy Male
It turned out to be a hotbed of activity. It was sort of a mixed flock of upper garden birds i.e., goldfinches, juncos, white throated sparrows and song sparrows with the addition of a red bellied woodpecker, a downy, cardinals and nuthatches. Nothing out of the ordinary, but it was so fun to see them hanging out together.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Last Saturday of October

Young Swamp Sparrow?
Well, it's definitely getting chilly now. It was about 36 degrees and clear at 8:00 a.m.

Arrived and saw that Mary Lou was there. Before I headed to the upper gardens, I checked out the path that cuts through the edge of the meadow. There have been lots of birds hanging out as they fly back and forth from the shrubs to the artemesia.

Was immediately greeted by a really cute yellow rump. This is the second one that has let me watch it very close up for quite a long time. Lots of song sparrows and juncos.

Mary Lou was on her way down when we met and we ended up going to the upper gardens together. It was filled with sparrows. We saw chipping sparrows, swamp sparrows, song sparrows and white throated sparrows. We did not see any white crowned or savannah sparrows. Also saw a female cowbird, a cardinal couple, more juncos and some goldfinches.

Palm Warbler
Mary Lou headed to the lower gardens which she had not yet explored and I stayed a little longer. I'm so glad I did, because finally, I saw my palm warbler - not one, but two! They flew up from the meadow into a tree right in front of me and hung out there long enough for me to get a good look at them. Now, I feel like my fall is complete.

White Throated Sparrow
In a few more weeks our tree sparrows should be arriving and then we know that winter is on its way!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Yellow Rump Encounter

Yellow Rumped Warbler
Look  at this cute little yellow rump. I encountered him/her shortly after I arrived, on the mulberry tree at the base of the path to the upper gardens.

It's not every day that they sit relatively still, but this one seemed to be enjoying the sun. I love the way it turned away from the camera, saying "O.K. - if you must. Take a picture and make sure you include my pretty yellow feathers.

I hadn't been at the park very long, when Haynes, and then Ian showed up. The upper gardens seems to be the place to start at this time of year. It was cool this morning - 41 degrees, and sunny.

We were greeted by several white throated and song sparrows in the little shrub at the top of the path. The meadow was filled with birds, but it's difficult to know exactly who's in there until they land on top of the artemisia. 

White Throated Sparrow
In the upper gardens we encountered several savannah sparrows, house finches, a swamp sparrow, a chipping sparrow, goldfinches, cardinals, chickadees, a nuthatch and two or three great views of the indigo bunting. In the oak trees at the back of the garden we had brief but good sightings of a couple of blue headed vireos and a golden crowned kinglet.

We checked out the soccer field area hoping for more golden crowned kinglets, but mostly saw juncos and chickadees. A shortcut through the woods turned up some titmice. It's sad to think the fall migration will be coming to an end soon.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pete Gilmore Bird Walk

Birdwatching Group
50's and clear this morning, but not windy. A great day for a walk with Pete.

Haynes, Jane and I happened to arrive at the Winchester St. entrance at the same time and a bit early, so we walked around the lower gardens, but it was very quiet. We headed down to the river and as we passed the pond, Haynes and Jane spotted a hermit thrush down on a low branch - very difficult to see when it dropped to the ground.

Wild Turkeys
At the river entrance, the group was forming - at least 12 people in all. We started by going down to the dock where Matt saw a pied billed grebe that dove under the water. Very exciting!

As we walked the path adjacent to the soccer field, some of us saw several chickadees high up in the oaks and others in the group saw a couple of golden crowned kinglets. There was much activity at the meadow and at the edge of the woods behind it. We saw a female yellow throat, several white throated sparrows, song sparrows and a very dull yellow rumped warbler. Someone saw wood ducks flying overhead.
The Scout

The lower gardens were fairly quiet. We saw several house finches, an Eastern phoebe, cardinals, a fleeting look at a palm warbler and another thrush! There was much discussion during and after about whether this was a wood thrush or a gray cheeked thrush. Not sure if it will ever be agreed upon… As we were examining the meadow again, a troupe of wild turkeys arrived near the parking lot. They foraged a bit and then headed into the woods, single file. Pete pictures them as little old ladies with pocketbooks under their wings, on a group shopping expedition!

As we headed to the upper gardens, we had several sightings of this funny little house finch. It looked young because it's red coloring was quite blotchy, it was very puffy and it didn't seem terribly afraid of our group.

The upper gardens were in sun and that made the birds more active. We saw an enormous flock of cormorants high in the sky in formation, migrating. With two mathematicians in our midst, it was estimated that there were between 128 and 150 birds. Power of 2!

Young House Finch?
Savannah sparrows have now arrived and some of them were quite bright with their yellow eyebrows. The goldfinches were active and vocal and juncos were twittering and flittering. A beautiful swamp sparrow was seen foraging in one of the gardens and chipping sparrows were seen.

Cormorants Migrating
We were all hoping to see a blue grosbeak that Pete had seen earlier in the week but it was not to be. However, we did have yet another sighting of the indigo bunting which was very nice. Had a nice view of another yellow-rumped warbler, only this one was very bright, looking like it was almost still in it's breeding plumage. It's yellow patch under the wing and tail was vibrant.

As the walk was winding down, we took one more look near the lower gardens and saw a red-eyed vireo and a mockingbird. I had to leave, but the last few people, Haynes, Jane, Pete and Matt took another pass at the lower gardens. If there is anything to report, it will be in the comments area.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Brookline Bird Club Walk with Linda Ferraresso

King Stag
It was in the mid 50's when I arrived at 7:30 and overcast. Haynes pulled up beside me in the parking lot. Mary Lou was there too and already exploring. We saw some white throated sparrows, juncos and song sparrows, but it was relatively quiet.

As we turned the corner in the lower gardens and looked in the brush towards the golf course, we saw this beautiful stag with his large antlers. I've seen does and fawns and possibly young/spring males, but I never saw saw a creature like this at Nahanton. His fur was quite gray and he was very regal, laying in the grass. I decided he will be known as "King Stag". He got up and calmly walked away.

Before we knew it, it was 8:00 and several people started arriving for Linda's walk. At last count, there were at least 14 or 15 people - a great turnout! I was happy to see my friend from work, Winnie decided to get up early and drive in from Braintree.
Group Intro

Linda warned us that the sparrows may be laying low today because of the wind and it seemed to be the case. The warblers were also in short supply, but we still managed to see a wide variety of birds.

Between the upper and lower gardens we saw more white throated sparrows, a mockingbird, song sparrows, chipping sparrows, a pine warbler, house finches, cardinals, chickadees, kinglets and goldfinches.

Looking for sparrows
Flying overhead we saw Canadian geese, herring gulls, red tailed hawks and a Coopers hawk as well as the grackles that are gathering together now.

I had to leave a little early, so there may be additional sightings that I'm unable to report.

There's another walk next Saturday, with Pete Gilmore. Hope you will join us! Check out Nahanton Park to find out more about it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Another Great Day!

Birders Examine Warbler Alley
Couldn't stay away. I was dying to know if any new birds blew in overnight...

When I arrived at the park, Robin was getting her gear out of the car. I met Robin at a walk at Forest Hills a few years ago. We started in the lower gardens and though very quiet, we saw a vireo (she thought blue headed) as well as a female common yellow throat. Then, Dana appeared and together we headed to the upper gardens where we eventually ran into Mary Lou!

We pretty much saw what we've been seeing all weekend, minus the yellow rumps who seemed to have moved on (unless they were somewhere else at the park). Had wonderful sightings of the white crowned sparrow (adult and juvenile), indigo buntings (one with a beautiful blue tail), swamp sparrows, Lincoln sparrow, chipping sparrows, white-throated sparrows, a kinglet, parulas and a black poll.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Yellow Rumps Passing Through!

Yellow Rumped Warbler
After yesterday, I had to get back over to see who would be there today! 53 degrees, clear and comfortable.

I was very excited to see some yellow rumps seemed to have arrived overnight in the lower gardens as well as the upper gardens. I discovered that, in addition to the sparrows, they are big fans of the artemesia seeds in the meadow.

I saw a pine warbler/black poll on the path to the upper gardens (I wouldn't dare say one way or the other unless I had someone more experienced with me), although I suspect it was a pine warbler. Also, a kinglet was flitting about high up in the canopy of a tall tree.

I really wanted to study the sparrows in the upper gardens. Plenty of song sparrows, and several white throated sparrows. Had a really nice, close encounter with the Lincoln sparrow. I was so close that I could finally, clearly see what everyone had been explaining to me for two years now - the buffy breast with the fine striations that make it different from the song sparrow. I may have seen some swamp sparrows, but wasn't 100% sure.

Common Yellowthroat
I couldn't stay very long so and as I headed down, I discovered several birds hanging out in the mulberry tree. There was a cowbird couple hanging out together for quite some time. Yellow rumps were flitting from the tree to the meadow. A male house finch was sunning himself at the very top, while a junco posed on a branch and surveyed the area. A common yellowthroat showed me a bit of his mask as I took his picture.

There will be a walk with the Brookline Bird Club next Saturday, 8:00 a.m. at the Nahanton Street entrance with Linda Ferraresso. Hope to see you there! Check out our listings on the Nahanton Park website:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Migration in Full Swing!

Haynes and Ian
It was 47 degrees and clear when I arrived at the park at 7:15 a.m.

Mary Lou emailed me this week. She saw the yellow-billed cuckoo in the upper gardens. I was hoping I might see it today, but no such luck.

I started around the lower gardens, which was awfully quiet. Finally caught a glimpse of a chickadee, some song sparrows, a mockingbird and some robins. I did see some warbler activity in the oaks bordering the golf course, but they were so far away and active, that I couldn't identify. I decided to try the upper gardens when I heard some twittering and couldn't quite place it. I looked up and saw a couple of juncos! It seemed rather early. It's funny how exciting it is when you first see them.

Thankfully, Ian showed up. Its so nice to have an extra set of eyes. Together we saw two catbirds, house finches, a Lincoln sparrow and then some warblers, one of which was a ruby-crowned kinglet.

White Crowned Sparrow
As we approached the upper gardens we saw more warblers and were trying to identify them when Haynes appeared and then a very nice woman, Judy. Between the four of us (in addition to the birds previously mentioned) we saw: female parulas, kinglets, white throated sparrows, a Lincoln sparrow, white crowned sparrows, swamp sparrows, chipping sparrows, a palm warbler, a Nashville warbler, goldfinches, an Eastern phoebe, nuthatch, titmice, crows, jays, common yellowthroat, pine warbler, cardinals, an indigo buntings.

Can't wait to see what the rest of the weekend brings!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fall birding like it's supposed to be

Beautiful morning in the Park!

Canada Goose 11
Ring-billed Gull 1
Mourning Dove 3
Downy Woodpecker 2
Eastern Phoebe 2
Blue Jay 4
Black-capped Chickadee 2
Tufted Titmouse 2
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
American Robin 35
Gray Catbird 1
Nashville Warbler 3
Common Yellowthroat 1
Northern Parula 2 Upper gardens. Definitely different birds. Possibly a third
Blackpoll Warbler 2
Palm Warbler 1
Chipping Sparrow 20
Song Sparrow 15
Lincoln's Sparrow 1 lower garden, with WCSP
White-throated Sparrow 8
White-crowned Sparrow 4 2 ad, 2 juv, seen simultaneously in lower garden
Northern Cardinal 3
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 1 young male, behind upper garden
Common Grackle 5
House Finch 9
American Goldfinch 8

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Turns out that Ian and Jane showed up yesterday, ready to walk in the rain. Sorry, guys! Ian was at the park again today, along with Suzette and Marie. The rain stopped promptly at 8:00 and we had a dry hour and forty minute walk. Not huge diversity, but quite a few birds. I have a photo in my camera but I can't locate the firewire!

Canada Goose 12
Great Blue Heron 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Ring-billed Gull 6
Mourning Dove 3
Downy Woodpecker 3
Blue Jay 3
American Crow 3
Black-capped Chickadee 4
Tufted Titmouse 8
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
House Wren 1
American Robin 40
Gray Catbird 3
Northern Mockingbird 3
European Starling 4
Blackpoll Warbler 1
Chipping Sparrow 15
Song Sparrow 20
White-throated Sparrow 1
Northern Cardinal 6
Indigo Bunting 1 F
Red-winged Blackbird 8
Common Grackle 300 several large loose flocks
American Goldfinch 16

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Friday Sapsucker, Saturday Rain, Sunday ???

The Friends of Nahanton Park/Newton Conservators walk was scrubbed this morning on account of rain. Sunday morning is the rain date!

Friday, Sept 30: a nice morning, not much variety but a lot of sparrows. And I think this is the first time I've recorded Yellow-bellied Sapsucker from Nahanton Park.

Ring-billed Gull 1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1 briefly, over raspberry patch
Blue Jay 3
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
American Robin 12
Gray Catbird 3
Northern Mockingbird 3
European Starling 30 flocks of 10
Common Yellowthroat 1
Chipping Sparrow 30
Song Sparrow 30
Swamp Sparrow 1
Northern Cardinal 3
House Finch 3
American Goldfinch 2
House Sparrow 4

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Weekend Update

Warm and overcast at the park this morning at 8:00 a.m.

Started in the lower gardens where it seemed awfully quiet. As I walked around the path clockwise I came to the area near the golf course and saw something flash in a shrub nearby. It was a Wilson's warbler! Very beautiful. Then as I continued on, I ran into Haynes who had come up from the Nahanton Street entrance. We saw a female common yellowthroat and though I missed it, he also saw a Nashville. Otherwise, it was robins, catbirds, mockingbirds, song sparrows and goldfinches, many of whom have molted into their winter colors. There were some other birders too, from the Brookline Bird Club.

The upper gardens were pretty quiet. We saw several chipping sparrows, cardinals, a male redstart and a couple of phoebes.

Haynes will be leading a walk next weekend on Saturday, October 1st at 8:00 a.m. (raindate October 2nd) at the Nahanton Street entrance. Check it out for more details on the Friends of Nahanton Park website.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Weekend Update

Yellow Warbler Female
This weekend was on the cool side. Saturday was 48 degrees and today was 53 degrees but they both turned out to be quite pleasant in the end.

The lower gardens haven't been terribly productive for warbler watching so I've been concentrating on what I'm now calling "Warblerville" in the upper gardens. It's the spot behind the bent over birch tree in the back and this is where I've been seeing most of the warblers.

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet
Yesterday, I saw between 3-4 different warblers. I believe the one above was a female yellow warbler - no sign of a male. At first, I had thought it was a Wilsons - it was so bright and yellow, but no sign of a cap. After consulting with Haynes, I believe one of the other warblers I saw was a ruby-crowned kinglet, which I saw again today and got a good, close look at it. It was so very tiny, that I am certain about the ID (see pic at right). I saw some others (one that I was desperately hoping was a chestnut sided), but just couldn't get a good enough look at them to positively identify.

Today, I had all but given up, when I saw a beautiful male parula (very bright) on the bent over birch tree.  All of a sudden, it seemed there were warblers everywhere, but they were zipping about so quickly, it was hard to see who was what! As I thought I saw another parula, I got my binoculars on the bird in the depths of a shrub and to my surprise, it was an American redstart! The tail was very distinctive. As I mentioned above, I had a great, close encounter with the kinglet and then saw something in an oak tree that I thought might be a female yellow rump or possibly a pine warbler? It had the soft brown striations on the side, a whitish breast and some yellow on the sides under the wings, but I couldn't get a look at the tail, so I can't confirm.

Other than that, it was our good old, reliable friends: catbirds, robins, goldfinches, wrens, titmice, cardinals, chickadees, song sparrows and blue jays.

The wild asters are just coming into bloom and the gardens, even though they are close to the end of their season, look beautiful. The cool temperatures give the flowers a much deeper and rich color. Some of the dahlias in the upper gardens are unbelievably spectacular.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Grosbeak Moment...

Juvy Red Breasted Grosbeak
It was 59 degrees at 7:00 a.m. and a beautiful blue sky. Cool and pleasant.

I was greeted by a hoard of excited chickadees this morning in an oak tree near the parking lot. Then worked my way around the lower gardens.

I saw some song sparrows, robins, goldfinches, a flicker, catbirds, mockingbirds, a cardinal family with young and a hummer that whizzed by. Then, I saw a warblerish bird high up in the oaks to the left of the bluebird houses. It had an olivey green back and a white underbelly with some subtle striations on the side. Couldn't identify it. Suddenly, there was movement in a shrub right in front of me. I caught a glimpse of some deep gray and bright yellow. I was thinking parula or nahsville, but just couldn't see it long enough. I became super frustrated at my lack of knowledge and identification skills and was desperately wishing that Haynes or Ian would appear.

Grosbeak Female
As I was walking to the upper gardens I saw more warblerish birds. One had black and white stripes on his head and at first I thought black and white, then black poll and then back to black and white. There was some other warblerish bird to the right but it flew ahead and who was behind me, but Haynes!!! I was so happy to have another set of eyes with more experience than mine!

The black and white was confirmed. We saw our usual pals including a very baby mockingbird that looked like it was almost fresh out of a nest. We saw a juvenile waxwing and I believe Haynes saw some adults. There were song sparrows, goldfinches, house finches, titmice and house wrens. As we ducked in to the scrubby area near the bent over birch tree, we had a great viewing of a parula. We also viewed several of the warblers I described in the lower gardens high up in the oak trees at the back of the upper gardens with the olive green back. Haynes identified them as parulas as well - maybe females?

We encountered a mystery bird happily eating from someones garden and acting very much like a goldfinch but it didn't quite look like a goldfinch. We stared at it for some time and went over and over what it could be (possibly a young one?). It was yellow with some black on the wings and a little bit of white in the wing area but not nearly as crisp as a goldfinch (even a molting one). Unfortunately, we didn't get a picture but we are discussing the possibility of whether it could have been a lesser goldfinch which apparently would be quite unusual for this area.

Our grosbeak moment happened as we were looking for warblers when Haynes spotted a juvenile male rose-breasted grosbeak (whose breast was really more like robin orange at this point) hanging out quietly on a nearby branch. It turned out there was more than one nearby and all of a sudden at least three of them were in low shrubs right in front of us - a female, a male and a juvenile male and possibly a juvenile female. My pictures don't do them justice but what can you do…

In the pond we were surprised to see a kingfisher! That was a first for me in that spot. Saw a garter snake up in Woodcock meadow and lots of phoebes down by the soccer field as well as a red-eyed vireo high up in a tree.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Black Throated Green Warbler!

Black Throated Green Warbler
A nice warm morning - a little humid and lots of mosquitos. Immediately heard the peewee from the woods behind the JCC.

Went straight down to the pond in hopes of spotting a heron before the joggers tromped through at 7:00 a.m., but no such luck.

Then headed through the woods to the upper gardens. There were tons of robins and some catbirds and mockingbirds - many with their late season young. Also managed to see a beautiful orangey-yellow oriole that may have been a female, but I suspect it was a young male. There were flicker families as well foraging on the ground and in the trees. Titmice were in a small tree flitting around and seagulls flew overhead.

Red Eyed Vireo
A hummingbird was actively pursuing nectar from any appropriate flowers. Strong presence of song sparrows. A house wren was perched on a trellis with a catbird and a robin. A fence had another group of characters - a chipmunk, a catbird and a song sparrow all surveying the area. I was excited to see a red-eyed vireo in the main mulberry tree and followed it to some scrub where it finally came out in the open and I was able to get a quick photo.

Meadow Spider
The highlight for me though was a black throated green warbler pictured above. It was very busy and far away, but it finally made it's way towards me and came down from a very high tree to a bush nearby.

As I peered into one of the gardens where I had seen some movement, I came across this beautiful meadow spider. They are absolutely stunning.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Pretty quiet out there...

Common Yellowthroat Female
Today is a little more humid then yesterday and warmer as well, but still, a nice end of summer day. Back to school and the feel of Indian summer is in the air, even after all these years of being out!

Ian and I happened to arrive at the park around the same time, so we walked around together.

The lower gardens were extremely quiet. We saw some mourning doves, a chimney swift overhead, song sparrows, catbirds, goldfinches, mockingbirds and a single cedar waxwing. Some of the gardens are just beautiful with their zinnias, cosmos and sunflowers in bright colors cheering up everything around them. The vegetables are on the wan except for the cool weather crops like broccoli etc.

American Toad
In the upper gardens we saw robins, cardinals, blue jays, flickers, a young housewren and a beautiful common yellowthroat (pictured above) that we got to see several times.

Other than that we saw a wonderful toad or frog (picture at left) as we cut through the woods to the soccer field and a lone house finch in Woodcock meadow. The insects are sounding the call of fall and another summer is almost over.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Nahanton After Irene

Red Tailed Hawk
After reading about all the rarities on MassBird and the eBird article on birds that might show up following the storm. I thought I might run down to Nahanton this morning (9am) to check out the damage and see what I could find. The cloudless blue sky was quite dazzling, with many more gulls circling over head than usual. But for the most part it was just our usual friends. There are a number of downed branches and the path to the pond is now blocked by a fallen tree so I only got faint glimpses there. But the most exciting birds this morning were the red-tailed hawks. A couple were circling over head, but one (juvenile?) was sitting in the middle of the upper garden while the gardener of the plot was working on the fence unaware of his audience!
Gardener Unaware of Large Visitor!
This hawk must have been pretty tired after the storm to tolerate people so close. I actually mistook him for a fake owl at first. Hope everyone fared well during the storm.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

In Search of the Chestnut-sided Warbler

Donna's Garden
O.K. I admit it. I really wish I had seen the Chestnut-sided warbler that Bev saw yesterday so I went back to the park this morning. Unfortunately, I never did see it.

I meant to mention yesterday, that the grapes are out and that should be attracting various birds.

Today, I will only mention what I didn't see yesterday which includes: a foraging deer, chimney swifts, three hummingbirds, a pair of red-bellied woodpeckers, cedar waxwings, mourning doves, house finches and a family of chipping sparrows.

We have some exciting fall birdwalks scheduled at the park and more to come. Check out the new listings at:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mushroom Mania!

It's been so rainy and moist the last week or two , that I guess it was no surprise to see lots of mushrooms today, but I was struck by their variety and beauty!

The lower gardens were unusually quiet today. All I managed to see were a myriad of very wet and sorry looking song sparrows, a blue jay, an oriole, robins and mockingbirds.

The upper gardens were a little more productive. I ran into Mary Lou and Tess, and eventually Bev. Mary Lou and I had some excellent sightings of female yellow throats, female yellow warbler and best of all a confirmed sighting of a Nashville warbler! A red-eyed vireo was heard but not seen. Otherwise it was mostly catbirds, female red-winged blackbirds, song sparrows, goldfinches, a house wren, cardinal and a peewee calling from the adjacent woods. Mary Lou introduced me to the "puffball" an amazing mushroom type fungus, that is basically a white ball shape with no stem that comes in a variety of sizes from small to very large! Apparently they are edible and quite tasty when sauteed in butter.

We were hoping to see the herons in the pond, but it was not meant to be. Down by the river were titmice and lots of chickadees as well as a flicker.

The meadow is beautiful right now with cosmos in white, pink and dark pink. Wouldn't it be great if they came back next year?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

In Search of a Summer Song

On Friday the 12th I arrived at Nahanton a little before 7am to find a song that would exemplify the summer at Nahanton. I was also hoping I might catch a night heron or sandpiper in the pond first. As soon as my car door opened, goldfinches flitted overhead, twittering while a Downy's rattle came from the woods followed by the plaintive "pee-a-wee" of the Wood-Pewee floated by. I made my way across the soccer field with a barn swallow for company and a Yellowthroat was sulking in the brush. Though the pond was empty I saw what looked like a small heron flying up into a tree. I circled around to get a better view while a Baltimore Orioles clear song was floating over the trees before I managed to find the heron silhouetted in the trees (picture) I kept circling so the sun wasn't behind it until it dissolved into the Green Heron, while not what I was looking for, a Heron in a tree is always an amusing sight. Just then a high thin "tee-see tee-see tee-see" came from just a few yards to the right of the heron and cued me into the Black-and-White Warbler scouring the tree branches for insects. I headed on my walk to find the river very quiet and just a few robins in woodcock meadow before heading into the woods. For a little while a robin and the mosquitoes were the only songs I heard before a "pee-a-wee" filtered through the woods. I managed to position my self right under one singing Pewee before it dawned on me the the Eastern Wood-Pewee was a perfect summer song! While the visual the Pewee can be a little drab gray bird with two wing-bars but with such a distinctive song where he tells us his own name "pee-a-wee" makes him a stalwart of the deciduous forest. Not to mention as a flycatcher, the Pewee is a superb flier. I continued my walk but it seemed at ever turn there was the Pewee song, or a Pewee sitting on an exposed branch, hawking flying insects by darting out and after some mid-air acrobatics returning to the previous perch. While watching such flying skill was enjoyable, it made taking a picture near impossible, but it was a summer song I wanted most.

Image 1: Green Heron
Image 2: Baltimore Oriole taking a bath
Image 3: Red Admiral butterfly