Sunday, April 29, 2012

Arriving Daily!

It was only 37 degrees this morning and sunny at 7:00 a.m. A perfect morning to be greeted by the song of a happy, yellow warbler!

The ancient crabapple tree in the middle of the lower gardens, was a very attractive spot for the yellow warbler, several yellow rumps, song sparrows and others. I heard a strange song and looked to my right and there was my first Nahanton catbird of the season. It's song was so strange, that I have to think it was a first year.

Yellow Rumped Warbler Male
The yellow rumps were plentiful today and as I was taking some pictures, Haynes appeared and shortly after, Ian joined us. The red winged blackbirds were very plentiful and spouting off every chance they had. Song sparrows were tipping their heads back and singing away. We saw some Savannah sparrows, tree swallows, mourning doves and of course the bubbling house wrens flitting from here to there - I've decided to call them little "Napoleons" since they are so little, but so strong and fierce! We heard the song of a white throated sparrow coming from the brush. Haynes spotted wood ducks flying overhead, recognizing them the the females white patch near the eye. Blue jays were making a racket.

We headed to the upper gardens and saw a couple of chipping sparrows in yet another crabapple. They sure are popular with the birds this time of year. Saw a ruby crowned kinglet in some brush below.

A goldfinch was singing from the top of the mulberry tree as it surveyed the area and a red bellied woodpecker purred from the woods. A warbling vireo could be heard as it flew from one tree to another. Cardinals, flickers, chickadees, tree swallows and titmice were heard and seen. 2 new beehives appeared which is good news for the gardeners!

Down by the soccer field, Ian spotted a beautiful black and white warbler. We were hoping for wood ducks in the pond, but it was quite devoid of any kind of water fowl, at least while we were there. Mrs. Phoebe is sitting on her nest and we are thinking that the eggs should be hatching very soon. It seems like it is time.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Weekend Update

Crab Apple Blossoms
The crabapples are blooming everywhere and they are so pretty. I love their fragrance. The temps have been in the mid 50's with Saturday turning to sun, but today, rather cloudy with some sprinkles around 9:30 a.m.

I had the pleasure of running into Mary Lou on Saturday, and Haynes and Ian on Sunday.

Saturday, the lower gardens were filled with tree swallows circling and guarding their new homes. There were goldfinches, a flock of chipping sparrows, mourning doves, a few yellow-rumped warblers, song sparrows, house finches and some beautiful savannah sparrows. The new addition was a bubbling house wren making its presence known everywhere it went! The upper gardens had robins, chickadees, cardinals and more house wrens. We saw a blue heron flying overhead and a heard a white-throated sparrow singing in the woods. I think I caught a glimpse of a merlin that suddenly appeared and swooped after some tree swallows and then just as quickly disappeared.

The soccer field and pond had some titmice and the two male mallards were feeding. Down by the river, we heard our first warbling vireo of the season, and saw Mrs. Phoebe patiently sitting on her nest. We heard the red bellied woodpecker. In searching for the warbling vireo, all we kept seeing was a flicker. In woodcock meadow, we caught a glimpse of some bright yellow, and then saw two beautiful palm warblers in an evergreen bush. They were quite striking and definitely don't like to sit still for long. One junco was seen. The majority of them seem to have moved on.

Red-backed Salamander
Today, we were greeted by a yellow warbler song - sweet, sweet, very sweet! The first one back!! How nice to hear its song. Had a good sighting of him in the scrubby tree in the middle of the lower gardens along with several yellow rumps and some savannah sparrows. In the upper gardens we saw a tree full of about a dozen cedar waxwings that Haynes had spotted and later we got a great view of them in a crabapple in the lower gardens. The birds seem to love the flowers. Across the river, we heard the warbling vireo again and finally, it flew to our side of the river into a tree right near us. We had a great view of it as it opened its beak and warbled! Our own, personal concert. Haynes also saw a green heron flying down the Charles River bird highway. We caught a quick glimpse of a Coopers hawk flying across the driveway into some woods. Saw our usual song sparrows, chickadees, titmice, grackles, red-winged blackbirds etc. and heard a red bellied purring from the other bank.

On our way back, we cut through the soccer field and through a small portion of the woods. When we were almost at the parking lot we decided to turn over a log, as Haynes had recently been on the vernal pool walk. It got us thinking about salamanders. I saw something dark and shiny and was sure it was only a worm, but when Haynes put it in his hand, we could all see it was a tiny, little salamander!

No sign of our bluebirds this weekend...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

New Arrivals!

White Throated Sparrow
What a lovely day! It was about 55 degrees and sunny this morning as I headed for the lower gardens. I could hear the "chiva chiva" of the titmice coming from the woods bordering the parking lot.

Palm Warbler
More garden plots are sprouting fences each time I arrive which is great. The first bird I saw was a song sparrow, but when I got my binoculars on it, I was totally wrong. It was a Savannah sparrow! It had the bright yellow eyebrow and the short tail. Later, I saw a whole flock of them in the meadow, combing the ground for goodies. The tree swallows were in abundance, some circling in the sky and some with their little blue and white faces peering out of their nest box holes, checking out the goings ons.

The color green is sprouting everywhere and fat, pink buds are ready to pop on all the crabapples. Such a beautiful time of year.

Bluebird Female
In the upper gardens I spotted some bright yellow near the new compost bins. I knew it must be some kind of warbler, but who? Turned out to be two very bright palm warblers! I apologize for the poor quality of the photo, but what can you do… There were also some chippers searching for food on the ground right along with them. Then there was the bluebird couple. After what we've seen over the years, I don't want to be overly optimistic, but after watching them for a while, I think they've found suitable accommodations, while the tree swallows seem satisfied with theirs!

Lots of birds were out and about today up there - goldfinches, song sparrows, cardinals, some juncos, and chickadees. The bees are starting to come to, from their long winters nap. As I was about to head through the woods, I saw something that I thought would be a chickadee, but turned out to be a yellow rump! There were two that I could see - very bold and bright.

Down by the pond, the small colony of blood root is budding and the level of water is very low, not the usual. This time, there were two male mallards and no sign of the female. I hope she is sitting on a nest somewhere. Redwings and grackles were abundant.

I went to check on the phoebe nest. No bird sitting on it, but one parent was watching me from a nearby branch. Spotted a beautiful white throated sparrow, pictured above. And this Canadian goose was checking out the river view.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Must be love!

I'm just so into you!
40 degrees and cloudy this morning.

New composting bins appeared in the scrub area adjacent to the driveway where we had tons of invasive black swallowwort. That will be a definite improvement and it saved a lot of back breaking work.
Eastern Phoebe

The lower and upper gardens were filled with tree swallows, circling in the sky, socializing and getting ready for breeding season. I saw one fly to a tree, pick off some dead foliage and carry it to one of the boxes to start nest building.

Song sparrows were singing, along with goldfinches, cardinals, titmice and robins. Saw a lone cowbird in the mulberry tree in the upper gardens as well as a nuthatch and phoebe. No sign of the bluebirds today. Juncos still around!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Fools Day!

Bluebird Male
We had a hard frost last night - the grass was all white this morning, so it felt surprisingly warm for 32 degrees this morning. It was nice and sunny.

The gardeners in the newly plotted out area of the lower gardens are starting to turn up and work the soil. A few fences have been erected. It's pretty exciting. I met two very nice people, new to the community gardens and looking forward to the season.

The lower gardens had a lot of robins, tree swallows and song sparrows. As I was chatting with the gardeners, I saw our hermit thrush, "Skulker" fly into a tree and then onto the soil of the new garden area, nosing around for good things to eat. I saw it again in the brush near the two birdhouses (golf course side) which seems to be its favorite spot. Three male cowbirds appeared atop a tree. It's funny how one minute, nothing is there, you turn your head, and the next minute a bunch of birds have arrived! There was a very happy, now almost fully yellow goldfinch singing, high in a tree. Titmice were calling from the woods and a phoebe appeared in front of me but was on the move. Every time I raised my camera, it flitted to another tree.

I live here!
The upper gardens had more of the same, including another phoebe, and some chickadees, and then I saw the bluebird male. Didn't see the female today. He looked splendid in his bright blue coat. The tree swallows are starting to try and stake out their boxes and this one (pictured right) was no exception.

The pond still has our mallard couple and the red-winged blackbird. The phoebe wasn't on its nest when I first looked, but late I saw it fly to the nest. Wondering if she has laid her eggs yet… I could hear a red-bellied woodpecker from across the river. Chickadees were having the best time playing in the trees near the dock.

On my way back I heard tell-tale  twittering and there was a group of juncos. Guess they haven't left yet.