I wanted to enjoy the unseasonable warmth and bright sun on New Years Day and thought I'd get in some birding. Inspired by the posting about the CBC Screech Owls in Kennard Park, and my own recent Great Horned Owl in Houghton Garden, I wanted to try birding Nahanton in the late afternoon and dusk hoping that I might find owls. I arrived a little later than I planed as I was side-tracked at the end of my birding walk at Castle Island by a the surprise appearance of a harbor seal.
But at 3:30 I was back in the familiar territory of the lower gardens of Nahanton and this is where I found most of the avian activity for new years day. Canada geese streamed over head, honking raucously; and flying north? A female Cardinal declared herself with her sharp "chink" call notes, while a Mockingbird acrobatically navigated among the tangle of shrubs and vines. A small flock of Juncos twittered around the garden, fully earning their name as the "winter chippy", trying to stay a few feet ahead of two young kids enjoying a hike. I was very excited when I found two American Tree Sparrows (picture) keeping company with the Song Sparrows, as I thought a New Year birding trip must include this winter favorite.
Down at the river I was able to discern the distant dry rattle of a Belted Kingfisher, making me wish he had decided to fly a little nearer. A Downy could be made out in the distant tree tops and the occasional "ang ang" was the only sign of the White-Breasted Nuthatch.
I sat up in Woodcock Meadow nearer to dusk watching robins stream south across Nahanton St. to their evening roost. Dusk was now fully upon the park (picture) and the wing-whir gave away a passing Mourning Dove as I sat straining my ears hoping for the low hoot of an owl. So far none of our feathered friends had provided any calls consistently or loud enough to record. When dusk was fully past, I turned my binoculars strait up to peer through the high hazy clouds at the moon and stars; even Jupiter's moons were visible as discrete pin pricks.
I slowly began to give up on the owls, and made my way back across the soccer field and up the the gardens, without a Great Horned Owl's low hoot or a Screech Owl's eerie whinny. It may have been the end of the day, but it is just the begining, the start of a new year. And who knows what this year might bring to Nahanton Park.