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