Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Nice, Soaking Rain, Finally!

After lamenting yesterday about the lack of rain we've had and how everyone's garden could use a nice rain - it finally happened at about 5:00 p.m. last night. It rained for several hours and I believe every plant is breathing a huge sigh of relief, and every gardener is thrilled not to have to water for at least one day!

Female Yellow Throat
It was 67 degrees this morning at about 9:00 a.m. and cloudy. The lower gardens were pretty busy - way busier than the upper gardens. Robins were fluttering their wings as they took turns bathing in various puddles while family members looked on. There were several mourning doves either perched or on the ground meandering about. I heard the call of a yellow warbler but never saw it. Unfortunately, there was a male house sparrow in the tree in the center of the gardens. I always hope they are passing through and don't settle at the park. A small bird appeared very close to where I was standing. It was the cutest female yellow throat. Then I think I saw another, but it quickly disappeared into the brush. All in all, I ended up seeing them all over the park - more than I've ever seen there, but never saw the zorro-like masked bandit male that is so striking.

Queen Anne's Lace
Towards the golf course side of the lower gardens there was a shrub filled with catbirds and their young, but also skulking around in there was a young cardinal. I'm sure it was going to be a male and he was at that awkward juvenile stage of having a few scruffy patches of red feathers starting to emerge from his  baby brownish red feathers. A female baltimore oriole flew by and then I caught a glimpse of a vireo. I know it wasn't the red eyed vireo, but I couldn't quite decide if it was the warbling vireo or some other kind. A goldfinch with its funny flight pattern was talking as it flew overhead.

Some form of Smartweed?
The upper gardens were rather quiet, save for some song sparrows and some very vocal house wrens. The sundrops are blooming towards the back and the flowers people have in their gardens are gorgeous (see dahlia at top left). I then cut through the woods and headed down to the soccer field.

Spotted or Solitary?
By the side of the pond was a mallard mom and a couple of babies which are now quite grown up looking and a green heron on a log. Then I noticed a sandpiper which was interesting as Matt had recently seen one and had posted it on his blog Wild Newton. I thought it was the solitary sandpiper, but after reading his blog and how hard it is to differentiate, I am not entirely sure. If anyone can tell from this photo, please let me know. It's legs are definitely yellowish, but It didn't really have spots on its breast. I could hear peewees calling from the woods nearby.

I quickly checked out the river and the nature center. The nests are still there, but didn't see either the barn swallow mom or the phoebe mom on their nests at that moment, however, on my return through the soccer field to the parking lot, I did see a whole family of phoebes and another yellow throat female.

Postscript: I was back at the park in the afternoon for a meeting about Woodcock Meadow. At the end of the meeting we all walked over to the pond to see if the sandpiper was there. No sign of it, but instead we saw a Great white egret!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Is it really 56 degrees?

Green Heron
I couldn't believe it was really 56 degrees this morning in the middle of July. Our weather certainly is getting more and more erratic.

I didn't really think I could make it over to the park this weekend, but an email from Mary Lou made me determined to get over there, first thing this morning. She said she had seen a family of three green herons flying back and forth across the river near Florrie's path.

As I headed down to the river, I took a brief look at the pond and saw my favorite blue heron! I love the way it comes in late July and stays until September. Of course I like to think it's the same bird.
Young Mockingbird

Down by the river, sitting on a bare branch was one of the green herons. I was thrilled. It let me take a quick pictures and then off it flew to the other side of the river and it started poking around for something good to eat. The phoebe is still in it's nest and the barn swallow is now sitting in her nest around the corner!

The wood thrush was singing somewhere in the woods near the JCC. It's so soothing to listen to. Puts one in a great mood. Woodcock meadow was very quiet save for two house wrens in what seemed to be a singing match. I checked the pond again, and this time saw the mother mallard with three youngsters. As I watched, a fourth one appeared only it was clearly the strange, little duckling we thought was a baby wood duck and as it is now about two weeks older, it is definitely a wood duck as the patch near its eye is getting quite distinct. I really am wondering if this mallard has adopted the little wood duck. We've seen no sign of the parents.

Rose of Sharon - Hummer Treat
I had heard from Paul this week and he had seen a hummingbird in a Rose of Sharon towards the back of the upper gardens. I was so hoping to see it. Not only did I see one, but I saw a second one that I am sure was a baby. It was still quite spotted looking. They really do love the Rose of Sharon and I saw them head over there several times.

The grapes are out and that whole area was very attractive to the bird life today. I saw the baby orioles which are now trying to fend for themselves, catbirds, baby mockingbirds, yellow warblers, young rose-breasted grosbeaks, robins, flickers, goldfinches and song sparrows. The red-bellied woodpecker was out with his bright red head and a cardinal that looked so bright in the sun, I almost thought it must be a tanager.

All the gardens are looking spectacular - especially after the nice rain we had.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Youngsters everywhere...

Red Admiral
It was 70 degrees and sunny this morning at 7:00 a.m. A beautiful summer day. I was surprised to see two liatris flowers blooming in the meadow adding a touch of purple to the field of white. The spicy scent of the invasive artemsia perfumed the air.

As I entered the lower garden, I was immediately greeted by this red admiral butterfly as well as a few early morning gardeners. Song sparrows were out in force, many with their new babies, fresh out of the nest. Two or three cedar waxwings were in the Tree of Heaven, where I have been seeing them a lot. Our catbirds and robins made a good showing. The house wrens near the golf course were feeding their young in their house (2nd brood, I think). Yellow warblers were singing and a mourning dove, with its bright orange/red legs strutted around on the path. A family of house finches hung out together on a tree waiting for the return of their parents.

In the upper gardens, some goldfinches were conversing in the big mulberry tree. Towards the back of the gardens, I saw something flitting about in a tall shrub. First, I saw a bird that was black and white. I thought it was a black & white warbler, but then it sort of whinnied which made me think downy woodpecker. If it was a baby downy, it was very different looking than the parents, but that is totally possible I suppose. Then, I saw a flash of yellow, and a larger bird. Turned out there were at least two baby orioles being fed by mom. It was interesting, because mom almost looked like a juvenile oriole herself. They had the most unique little call to cry for food as they opened and closed their beaks! A peewee called from the woods and a little further around the bend was a yellow warbler family. The babies are outgrowing their gray feathers and turning much more yellow like the parents - not quite there yet though.

Morning Glories
As I explored the area near the soccer field, I saw the wild morning glories are in bloom (also known as bindweed). The beautiful bright orange, orchid-like blooms of the jewelweed plant (impatient family) have started blooming and are an attractive source of nectar for hummingbirds. I heard some chickadees and saw the male oriole.

Checked in on the pond inhabitants and saw a mallard mom with 4 babies. One however had similar markings, but very different coloration than the others. Instead of gray feathers, they were almost white. It looked like the baby Haynes and I had thought was a lone wood duckling last week. Now, I'm not sure what to  think…
Down by the river, I saw the phoebe flitting about it. Unbelievably, there is a third nest - the other broods having successfully fledged. I have to wonder if it is a third brood or if they are different parents… Whatever the case, this has been a great year for phoebes. It has been so hard in past years to see their nests and all their hard work thrown on the ground. The barn swallows that were trying to build a nest on a perpendicular side of the building have actually built a nest, but I didn't see them while I was there. Hope they didn't abandon ship.

Raccoon family
I heard a warbling vireo down by the river. As I turned around to leave the dock, I was most surprised to see a family of raccoons ( a mom and two babies) lumping across the parking lot towards the woods. I ran in hot pursuit and was only able to catch a brief glimpse - they were moving so quickly.

Indian Pipe
The woods near the parking lot had a few colonies of indian pipe in bloom. It's a plant that I will never forget from my early years at a camp in New Hampshire.

As we speak, fall walks are being organized. Stay tuned to the Friends of Nahanton Park website, where they will soon be posted!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

July 1 at the park

A nice morning walk through the park and over to the JCC with Suzette.  We were excited to see the Gnatcatchers.

There were several Monarch butterflies around, but no bears.

Wood Duck  1   juv, pond
Great Blue Heron  2
Ring-billed Gull  1
Rock Pigeon  1   over soccer field
Mourning Dove  4
Red-bellied Woodpecker  2
Downy Woodpecker  5
Northern Flicker  3
Eastern Wood-Pewee  2
Eastern Phoebe  2
Great Crested Flycatcher  1
Warbling Vireo  2 juv being fed
Red-eyed Vireo  2
Blue Jay  4
Tree Swallow  3
Barn Swallow  5
Black-capped Chickadee  8
Tufted Titmouse  3
White-breasted Nuthatch  4
House Wren  8
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  3  trees between soccer field and pond
Wood Thrush  1 heard
American Robin  40
Gray Catbird  5
Yellow Warbler  10
Chipping Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  12
Northern Cardinal  6
Red-winged Blackbird  12
Common Grackle  6
Brown-headed Cowbird  2
Baltimore Oriole  6
House Finch  6
American Goldfinch  8