Saturday, April 30, 2011

Great Birdwalk with Haynes!!

Today's birding group
It was rather chilly, windy and overcast today but when the sun came out it was lovely and the main thing is that we saw some really great birds and had a great walk around the park!

We started in the lower gardens where we heard and saw several yellow warblers. Some of us saw the Northern Parula which has a buzzy call and is just totally beautiful. We spotted another one later in the woods near the parking lot.

The tree swallows were everywhere and we had sightings of cardinals, catbirds, mourning doves, song sparrows, robins, cowbirds and jays.'
Baltimore Oriole

As they were pruning a large tree in the upper gardens and making lots of noise, we headed down to the soccer fields where we saw several very colorful yellow rump warblers and a ruby crowned kinglet as well as a beautiful savannah sparrow. The pond was quiet today.

Down by the river we could hear a lot of singing and it turned out that several warbling vireos had blown in overnight! They were singing like crazy along with a baltimore oriole who was hanging out in the same tree. A phoebe was doing nest duty already while the mate was nearby and Haynes spotted some chimney swifts flying overhead.

We then walked up through Woodcock meadow and down the path that leads by the JCC through the woods lured by the sound of the pine warbler. We cut through to the back of the JCC where it was sunny and warm and we finally got to see the pine warbler. We also saw a black and white warbler and heard its buzzy call. They had a bird feeder set up and we also saw nuthatches and titmice and a cute little chipping sparrow.
Chipping Sparrow

Going through the woods to the parking lot we had another great viewing of some extremely bright yellow rumped warblers and caught a very brief glimpse of the red bellied woodpecker. Back at the parking lot everyone left, but Haynes and I felt compelled to check out the upper gardens now that the tree pruning was done.

Still no sign of the bluebirds - how sad… but lots of yellow rumps here as well and Haynes saw a kestrel flying overhead which was most exciting. Don't see that every day at Nahanton! A red tailed was soaring as well. Cormorant flew overhead as well.

The only thing I saw that the group didn't get to see were some palm warblers down in the lower gardens.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Spring is early this year!

Beautiful sunny morning, amid the ruins of the park. Judy Dore was there with Mark the city tree man, Duane Hillis, and a gardener, inspecting the beautiful old mulberry tree in the middle of the upper garden. It does have splits in it, which all seem quite old. It's not clear why this moment was chosen to consider taking it down. It didn't seem to make the gardener happy to have a truck drive over his new planting. They may be able to take off just the southern stem of the tree. This will happen at 7:00 tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, the birds: e-bird was skeptical of the yellow warblers, the orioles, the parula, and the flycatcher -- all of which were unambiguous. It also questioned the common yellowthroat I believe I heard in the upper garden, but didn't see. I guess it's an early spring.

Canada Goose 9
Wood Duck 1 F calling flyover
Mourning Dove 6
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 3
Downy Woodpecker 4
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) 2
Eastern Phoebe 1
Great Crested Flycatcher 1 Woods near JCC
Blue Jay 4
American Crow 2
Tree Swallow 14
Barn Swallow 1
Black-capped Chickadee 6
Tufted Titmouse 6
House Wren 1
American Robin 20
Gray Catbird 8
Northern Mockingbird 1
European Starling 8
Northern Parula 1 back of upper gardens
Yellow Warbler 8
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 2
Pine Warbler 2 JCC
Chipping Sparrow 2 JCC
Savannah Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 8 Upper gardens
Northern Cardinal 4
Red-winged Blackbird 6
Common Grackle 6
Brown-headed Cowbird 2
Baltimore Oriole 2 Upper gardens
American Goldfinch 5

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Yellow Warbler Arrived!

Yellow Warbler
What a gorgeous Easter morning. 60 degrees at 8:00 a.m. and sunny! How badly did we need this?

Tree swallows are nesting in one of the boxes at the entrance to the lower gardens. Lots of robins, jays, song sparrows, goldfinches. Then I heard the "sweet, sweet, sweet"… and there he was - singing his heart out and flitting all around the gardens. He looks really happy to be back!

In the upper gardens I heard the red bellied woodpecker. Saw lots of swallows, titmice and chickadees. The cardinal couple was out and about and we still, surprisingly have some juncos left. Towards the back of the upper gardens I was looking for the jay nest that Haynes told me about. I couldn't see it (although there is a couple hanging out there alot) but I did see some ruby crowned kinglets which made my day!

Turtles Sunning

I took the shortcut through the woods to the soccer field and saw a thrush again, only this one looked different than the veery as it was darker and not so red. I'm thinking it may have been a wood thrush, but heard no song and can't confirm one way or the other. It was a very brief glance, but it had dark brown spots on its breast.

The pond was duckless, but I did spy two turtles out for a sunning on an old log. They obviously are loving this warm day, just like the rest of us. The bloodroot colony is starting to bloom down there by the pond's edge. It's so beautiful.

Eastern Phoebe
The river was fairly quiet. The eastern phoebes were hanging out near the Nature Center and then I saw my chestnut brown friend the muskrat - cruising down the river on the opposite bank. It really moves quite quickly. It always seems like it's late for a very important date.

Some white throated sparrows of the brown striped variety were poking around in the leaves at the edge of the soccer field path on my way back.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Yellow Rumps Here!

After seeing the mysterious little warblerish bird yesterday down by the river, I had a funny feeling they'd be arriving soon, so on my way home from an early swim, I stopped by the park. Saw some birds high above me down near the soccer field and had a feeling they were warblers but didn't have my binoculars and could only see them from underneath. Quickly drove home to retrieve the binocs and hurried back hoping the rain would hold out.

At first, I couldn't find them again, but all of a sudden in a large tree set back from the soccer path on the pond side, there were at least a dozen or more yellow rumps flitting all around. The viewing was a little difficult because they are so small and they were so high up in the tree and the light was very dim and gray. I think there may have been other kinds of warblers in this group but it was too difficult to identify under these conditions.

Yippee!!!! They're here. I'm so excited.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Patriot's Day Weekend Update

Friday around 7:00 p.m. I went to the park. It was a nice evening and not a time of day I usually go, but it was still light out. Upon entering the path to the lower gardens I saw a small sparrow quite near me. I thought it was a chipping sparrow but when I saw it through the binoculars it had a distinctive orange beak which means it had to be a field sparrow! Also saw a savannah sparrow not too far away.

Early Saturday morning I saw mostly our regulars, but I did catch the phoebe hanging out in last years nest already! What creatures of habit. From there I went on a great walk with Alison and Ted starting at the Watch factory in Waltham where some of our highlights were a kingfisher, pine warbler and yellow rumps.

Today it was actually pretty cold at 45 degrees. Saw the savannah sparrow again and our regulars in the lower gardens. The tree swallows are practically swarming around the upper gardens as well as some titmice, goldfinches, robins, etc. Heard the red-bellied woodpecker somewhere near the soccer field. Also thinking there might have been a wood duck in the pond. Something flew up from the water before I even got there but the mallards stayed. Those wood ducks sense you before you even realize you're near.

Down by the river I saw a male downie, a red-winged blackbird, chickadees, titmice and a mysterious little olivey-yellow plump, but warbleresque bird. We surprised each other and therefore I didn't really have a chance to examine it. Saw my friend swimming in the middle of the river and got another picture. It finally came towards the edge of the river and now I am almost certain that it is a muskrat. It moved along at quite a clip - I could hardly keep ahead of it and then it disappeared under the water at the exact same spot it disappeared last time.

On my way back I ran into Haynes who had also seen a couple of savannah sparrows. We saw a small hawk overhead and he identified it as a Coopers hawk which was pretty nice. I'm wondering when the warblers will appear at Nahanton. I'm thinking it should be any day now.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pleasant Weather - Finally!

Mackerel Sky
It was cool, but beautiful this morning and all our regulars were around.

Of interest today in the lower gardens were a couple of white throated sparrows foraging near the edge of some scrub. I ran into Haynes down there and I hope he sees them.

Flicker Couple
I heard the phoebes in the woods at the edge of the upper gardens (driveway side) and eventually saw them - one hanging out there and one at the edge of the woods near the swamp area.

The highlight today for me was when I arrived at the path to cut through the woods to the soccer field. I had only walked a few steps when I saw a very reddish brown bird sitting on a low scrub branch not five feet away. I am sure it was a veery, but it seemed awfully early. As I reached for my camera, it flew off.

Saw a pair of flickers in the upper gardens and also down near the river. They were inseparable today. If one flew off, the other followed.

Can't wait to find out what Haynes sees today if he posts.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Tree Swallows and Chipping Sparrow Have Arrived!

Don't let the bluebirds take this!
Now, to find my wife...
 It was actually pretty cold this morning - 31 degrees around 7:00 a.m. Tons of robins in the meadow and as I headed into the lower gardens I saw a white shape up in a tree and was so excited to see a tree sparrow! Turned out there were lots of them. They were in all their usual places, trying to reserve their favorite boxes. The two at left were in the upper  gardens and the one beneath was in the meadow.

All the regulars were there: jays, song sparrows, cardinals, mourning doves etc. The upper gardens had chickadees, juncos, song sparrows, titmice and goldfinches. It's funny but for awhile several different species were hanging out in their big old favorite tree in the middle of the gardens. I ran into Ian and we also saw some titmice, a flicker and a beautiful chipping sparrow. Geese, ducks and grackles were flying overhead. Ian had seen the cowbirds - 2 females and a male.

No sign of the Eastern phoebes or the bluebirds today.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Eastern Phoebes Back!

Eastern Phoebe
Well, we were promised a nice weekend and it turned out to be as predicted. It was only 38 degrees when I arrived at 7:00 a.m., but it didn't feel too bad.

The river at first seemed pretty quiet, but the longer I stayed, the more I saw and heard. Of course there were robins and blue jays and as I stood on the dock I saw some ducks in the distance and I thought I saw a teal. So I walked along the path and finally saw the teal hanging out with some mallards and geese. It didn't seem to be part of a couple and it turned out to be a green winged teal which I, personally haven't seen before down here (have seen them other places) so that was kind of fun.

Checking out last years nest
As I was heading back, I saw a dark brown creature swimming by the edge of the river. It was the exact same color as the creature I had seen a few weeks ago so I don't know if it was the otter, a muskrat or what and I have a very poor picture in case someone else can figure it out. It's all so mysterious that I feel like I'm trying to capture the Lochness monster or something. Heard the red bellied woodpecker and saw some chickadees on my way back and as I stood on the dock a second time I heard a very persistent phoebe call and I suddenly realized this wasn't chickadees. It must be the Eastern phoebe is back! I looked all around and I finally saw it high in a tree. It seemed very excited and was flying all around the Nature Center and then all of a sudden there were two! and they were chasing each other and checking out both the nests. I feel like they just arrived and had to make sure everything was where it should be. It was then that I ran into Ian, only they totally disappeared and we could only hear them from across the river.

Meanwhile, in the upper and lower gardens were our regulars including cowbirds, jays, robins, juncos, goldfinches, cardinals, crows, chickadees, song sparrows and a mourning dove. I did see two blue herons flying overhead squawking loudly in flight. Ran into a man who had seen the bluebirds in the upper gardens but I checked twice and didn't see them and neither did Ian. It's amazing how they're there one minute and then they just vanish.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Screech Owl

After a fairly quiet tour through the park, highlighted mainly by a Hairy Woodpecker above the pond and a large off-leash black dog harassing me near the soccer field, I checked out the pile of debris and Christmas trees near the Winchester Street entrance. In a knothole in the right large tree behind the pile, there was a red-phase Screech Owl. It vanished, amazingly, while I was fussing with my camera.