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.