Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bird Walk with Alison Leary and Haynes Miller

Bird Walk Group
I got to the park early in hopes of seeing some of the exciting warblers that I've heard have been passing through during the week.

As I drove slowly down to the parking area, I saw what I thought was an unleashed dog a distance away near the far end of the meadow. On closer inspection, I discovered it was a young deer. I must have been heard because all of a sudden, three deer went leaping through the meadow, their white tails flashing, and entered the woods heading to the swamp. I'm always happy to see the deer.

I only  had a few minutes in the lower gardens before Haynes arrived. The only warblers I saw were two common yellow-throated females in a favorite brush pile. Haynes and I walked around a little and then headed to the Nahanton Street entrance.

Eventually, we had a group of 9 which is pretty good considering the gray day quickly turned to drizzle and then outright rain.

Near the river we saw a couple of titmice and an eastern phoebe. A mourning dove flew overhead. We looked for the solitary sandpiper in the pond and couldn't see it, but on a 2nd trip we finally saw it - very hard to see on a gray day. So, our friend is still satisfied with the pond pickin's! Five flickers were seen in Woodcock meadow and at some point three mallards were seen, but not in the pond, so they must have been flying overhead.

The lower gardens were the most productive area of a raw, rainy day. Some saw a red-eyed vireo near the compost piles. We saw song sparrows, white throated sparrows, lots of delightful chipping sparrows  dipping and diving and chasing each other and swamp sparrows. The goldfinches were out in full force, some of them feeding babies who were frantically flapping their wings and crying for food. Blue jays, cardinals, robins, catbirds and chickadees were out in decent numbers and a flock of approx. 300 grackles few overhead near the soccer field. A white-breasted nuthatch was heard. We were surprised to see two dark-eyed juncos so early in the season. They're probably passing through. Our overwintering flock should be arriving in the next month or so.

An indigo bunting female perched on some piping without a hint of blue on a feather. This is when it's great to be around expert birders who can identify fall birds with some of their strange colorations. Alison thought she saw a clay colored sparrow which Haynes had been told was there. I saw it too, but just for a fleeting glance. It was hard to confirm, but luckily, Haynes had to return to the park later in the afternoon and there it was! A definitive sighting! We don't see too many at Nahanton.

It was a fun walk. Check out other bird walks scheduled for October 8, 13, and 14th.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Red-headed Woodpecker!?

Pleasant morning at Nahanton. Mary Lou was already there when I arrived at 8:10. We found a Yellow-throated Vireo in the trees at the back of the upper garden. I had the Blue-headed Vireo above the raspberries at the lower garden, and while wewere there what could only have been a Red-headed Woodpecker flew over. I returned alone later to the lower garden and found the Lincoln's Sparrow.

Cooper's Hawk  1
Mourning Dove  6
Red-headed Woodpecker  1     
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Downy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  2
Eastern Phoebe  3
Yellow-throated Vireo  1    
Blue-headed Vireo  1
Red-eyed Vireo  1
Blue Jay  8
American Crow  3
Black-capped Chickadee  6
Tufted Titmouse  2
White-breasted Nuthatch  3
House Wren  2
American Robin  15
Nashville Warbler  1
Blackpoll Warbler  1
Palm Warbler  2
Pine Warbler  1
Chipping Sparrow  20
Song Sparrow  16
Lincoln's Sparrow  1
Swamp Sparrow  1
White-throated Sparrow  6
Northern Cardinal  6
Indigo Bunting  4
Common Grackle  3
Brown-headed Cowbird  3
House Finch  6
American Goldfinch  25

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fall's Here

Here is Haynes'  List:

45 deg and warming, still then variable breeze, sun.

30 species:

Mourning Dove  6
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1 nice view, upper garden.
Downy Woodpecker 2
Northern Flicker 1
Eastern Phoebe 1
Red-eyed Vireo 1
Blue Jay 6
American Crow 2
Black-capped Chickadee 5
House Wren 1
American Robin 20
Gray Catbird 2
Nashville Warbler 10 careful count
Blackburnian Warbler 1
Blackpoll Warbler 2
Palm Warbler 2 both gray
Yellow-rumped Warbler 2
Black-throated Green Warbler 1
Eastern Towhee 1 m; wheep-ing
Chipping Sparrow 12
Savannah Sparrow 3
Song Sparrow 20
Swamp Sparrow 1
White-throated Sparrow 5
Dark-eyed Junco 1
Scarlet Tanager 2
Northern Cardinal 5
Indigo Bunting 5
Red-winged Blackbird 15
American Goldfinch 6

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Hooded Warbler

Solitary Sandpiper
The big excitement this past Thursday was an email from Haynes. He and Mary Lou had a close encounter with a hooded warbler at the back of the upper gardens! I've never seen one myself except in books.

Today was about 61 degrees with a few clouds. I arrived at the park and shortly encountered Mary Lou, then Haynes, Ian and then Robin and friend from the BBC.

In the lower gardens, we saw our usual friends; robins, blue jays, song sparrows, chickadees, house finches, goldfinches, mourning doves etc. Was taken by surprise when a hummingbird zipped by. The hummers at my house have been gone for at least a week now. Then we caught a quick glimpse of a Western palm warbler. By the time the others had arrived, an American redstart male was spotted in a tree as well as some chipping sparrows. Robin saw a Philadelphia vireo!

In the upper gardens we were treated to a beautifully bright Nashville warbler which others had seen in the lower gardens as well. A downy and Eastern phoebe were seen.

On our way to the pond, we were able to see a pine warbler and a blackpoll and to compare the two as they are so similar looking in the fall (hard to tell from this spring picture)! Learned about the streaked back and the difference in tail length and shape from covert feathers to tip of tail.

Apparently the solitary sandpiper has been quite pleased with the quality of food in our pond! It has been hanging out here fairly regularly now.

We couldn't resist one more turn around the lower gardens as the clouds cleared out and it turned into a gorgeous day. We saw a ruby crowned kinglet, although it's crown wasn't showing. As we were about to leave, Mary Lou saw a black-throated green and Haynes saw a blue headed vireo.

Can't wait to see what turns up next Sunday, September 30th at 8:00 a.m., Nahanton Street Entrance on the bird walk with Haynes Miller and Alison Leary. Check out the website for more details:

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Weekend Update

During the week, I was contacted by Mary Lou. Between her and Bev (two excellent birdwatchers), the following birds were seen: Dickcissel, Nashvilles, redstarts, Prairie warblers, black-throated greens,  a black-throated blue, black & white warblers, palms (Eastern and Western)!

Saturday, when I first arrived in the lower gardens, the birds were quite active which surprised me because it wasn't all that pleasant out. I saw a young male yellowthroat and a couple of female yellowthroats. Then I saw two redstarts, one was a male and one a female. I think I had a brief sighting of a black- throated green and a lone pine warbler. A very small bird flew right by me and landed on a post. When I got my binoculars on it, I thought it might be a least flycatcher, but not being certain, I thought it could also possibly be a peewee. However, after sighting the same bird on Sunday, it's been positively identified as a "least". Our regulars were there as well: catbirds, a house wren, robins, goldfinches, song sparrows, cardinals, a downy, titmice and what I thought might be a red eyed vireo youngster. Ian turned up, but as we walked around we saw a bright lightning bolt came down from the sky and there was a huge clap of thunder, then it started raining in earnest. After reading "A Match to the Heart: One Woman's Story of Being Struck by Lightning" by Gretel Erlich, I decided it was time to high tail it out of there.
Jonathan, Ian and Haynes

Today was much cooler - 48 degrees and clear at 6:40 a.m. I've been trying to get to the park early because 7:00 a.m. seems to be prime time as far as the birds are concerned. As I headed down the path to the lower gardens, I was greeted by a very friendly, sociable group of chickadees. One of them stood on a branch just inches from me but wouldn't stay long enough for a photo.

I heard the chip chip of a cardinal, some song sparrows and a surprisingly silent little house wren. Two yellowthroat females were flitting here and there in a little shrub near the golf course making their little scolding sounds. A titmouse perched on a branch in an oak tree and a blue jay called. The goldfinches were really enjoying the flower seeds in the gardens. Saw a couple of white-throated sparrows. At around 7:00, the sun came out and as I rounded the corner near the golf course side that heads back to the main path to the upper gardens there was a flurry of activity. I almost didn't know which way to look. Birds were flying back and forth across the path and from tree to ground to shrub. First I saw 2 female redstarts with their fanned out tails. Then I saw a couple of very colorful birds and suddenly realized they were parulas! Two Nashvilles appeared. They seemed to enjoy the goldenrod that was just a few feet off the ground.

Then Ian appeared, and Haynes and then Jonathan. We enjoyed a nice walk around the lower gardens. A beautiful red eyed vireo was spotted as well as house finches, a pine warbler or black poll. Haynes saw a chestnut-sided warbler with it's fall yellow cap and the flycatcher I had seen yesterday was there again and it was determined to be a least flycatcher.

The upper gardens had a black poll high up in a tree top and we saw an Eastern phoebe. Otherwise, it was unusally quiet up there. Not like the excitement down in the lower gardens.

The solitary sandpiper was down by the pond which is now in its vernal pool state - almost all dried up. No sign of any herons or egrets today.

The Friends of Nahanton Park and the Newton Conservators have some great fall bird walks coming up as well as the Brookline Bird Club bird walks.

Please check out the FNP website for more information:

Saturday, September 8, 2012

September Lull...

Dahlia with bumble bee
At 7:15 a.m. it was overcast and about 72 degrees. The park was extremely quiet.

I heard a few titmice and some blue jays calling from the JCC woods, but when I got to the lower gardens, all I saw was a catbird, a few goldfinches and a young house wren who was clearly learning how to sing and still needed quite a bit of practice to sound like dad. A dark gray vole ran in front of me and dove into a hole before I could really get a good look.

I didn't even see a song sparrow. Now, that is quiet! Suddenly, I heard a strange noise and couldn't figure out where it was coming from. At first, I thought it was some strange equipment at the golf course. I happened to look up and there were three swans flying overhead. They must have been fairly low for me to hear them flying. It was quite an amazing sound.

Shortly after I arrived, Mary Lou turned up. She had seen some kind of warbler in the lower gardens but couldn't quite confirm what it was. The upper gardens were dead, but we did end up having a beautiful sighting of a red eyed vireo.