Sunday, October 28, 2012

Waiting for the storm...

Wild grasses
The groceries stores are packed and the gas stations busier than usual as people await hurricane Sandy! Not sure it's really supposed to be that bad here, but I guess we'll find out.

White throated sparrow
I headed to the park as a last opportunity before a lot of rain to get a nice walk in and see who was around.

It was 53 degrees at about 8:00 a.m. and the sky did like a bit ominous. When a wind picked up, a huge quantity of leaves would fly up in the air and look like a flock of birds heading off.

Chickadee acrobat
It was pretty quiet today, save for a few brave souls, feasting as much as possible before they have to hunker down.  Many of our regulars were there, including; robins, goldfinches, cardinals, bluejays, song sparrows, house finches and chickadees. There were several white throated sparrows and even more juncos. At one point, as I walked down a path (seeing nothing around me), they flew up from every direction, having blended in with the surroundings. I had no idea there were so many just feet from where I was. A large group of Cedar waxwings adorned a tall tree in the lower gardens. I heard Caroline the Carolina wren call from the woods behind the little house near the Winchester St. entrance.

Some geese flew overhead and two pairs of mallards and a lone male were in the pond. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Join us as we implement one of the Audubon Report recommendations to remove invasives from Woodcock Meadow. We want to ensure that the woodcocks will continue to come and perform their amazing aerial mating flight.

Bring your hand tools (saws, loppers, clippers, etc.) and volunteer for a day, part of a day or two days, so that we can remove as many invasives as possible this fall, in order to preserve this valuable habitat.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Beautiful and birdy

A beautiful morning at Nahanton. I got there at 8:15 or so and met Suzette. There were a lot of birds, especially in the lower garden. Later Ian appeared, and we walked through Woodcock Meadow and back through the woods (which were very quiet).

Canada Goose  X
Double-crested Cormorant  3
Cooper's Hawk  1
Red-shouldered Hawk  1     calling loudly from somewhere along the river
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Mourning Dove  3
Downy Woodpecker  1
Eastern Phoebe  1
Blue Jay  5
Black-capped Chickadee  10
Tufted Titmouse  5
White-breasted Nuthatch  4
Golden-crowned Kinglet  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
American Robin  30
Cedar Waxwing  24     large group in lower garden, another smaller one at woodcock field
Savannah Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  18
Lincoln's Sparrow  3
Swamp Sparrow  8
White-throated Sparrow  12
Dark-eyed Junco  12
Northern Cardinal  6
Brown-headed Cowbird  3
Purple Finch  1
House Finch  20
American Goldfinch  15
House Sparrow  2

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Red-shouldered at the park

Quick tour around the gardens on Wednesday morning, Oct 17. After a very slow start, things picked up a bit .....

Canada Goose  4
Accipiter sp.  1     Sharpie?
Red-shouldered Hawk  1     calling loudly
Downy Woodpecker  1
Eastern Phoebe  2
Blue Jay  1
Black-capped Chickadee  5
Tufted Titmouse  2
White-breasted Nuthatch  4
American Robin  2
Yellow-rumped Warbler  8
Chipping Sparrow  1
Field Sparrow  4     two pairs
Savannah Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  20
Swamp Sparrow  12
White-throated Sparrow  12
White-crowned Sparrow  1
Dark-eyed Junco  10
Northern Cardinal  10
House Finch  12
American Goldfinch  10

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Bird Walk with Alison Leary

Well, unfortunately, it rained for the bird walk today, just as it had two weeks ago, but we ended up having a great time, despite the weather.

It was 47 degrees and rainy at 8:00 a.m. Haynes and Alison were ready to lead, but it was a small crew today - just me. As Haynes had been there yesterday, he decided to head home, so Alison and I combed the gardens together. Apparently Haynes had seen a kingfisher when he first arrived which is nice.

For our regulars we saw: cardinals, robins, mourning doves, white breasted nuthatches, house finches, chickadees and goldfinches. Alison has been seeing a lot of red breasted nuthatches and reading that it's a banner year for them, so we were hoping for a sighting, but unfortunately, there it didn't happen.

Some phoebes haven't left yet, but some juncos have arrived. Whether they're passing through or staying on for a while, we don't know. Cedar waxwings with their young were amassed atop a tree in the lower gardens. The young looked like they were getting ready for Halloween - they still had their baby feathers with the brown streaks on their breasts, but their masks were coming in all nice and black.

Saw a couple of indigo buntings in the upper gardens - one with a plain dark tail, and one with more blue in it. A Cooper's Hawk flew across the lower gardens and disappeared into the woods near the JCC. One strange sighting was that of a female grosbeak. Alison thought it might be a female purple house finch but when we got back to the cars and looked in the Sibley book, we were pretty certain it was indeed a grosbeak.

Warblers were in short supply, but we did see a common yellowthroat female and a couple of palms (couldn't quite determine if they were western palms or drab, first year females). Caught a quick glimpse of a black throated green female. Saw a couple of ruby crowned kinglets, one near the soccer field and one in the lower gardens.

Sparrows included songs, swamps, 2 Lincoln sparrows, a savannah, several white-throated sparrows, a few chipper and two white crowned sparrows—one young one and one mature.

Interestingly, we saw two leucisistic birds! One was a female house finch with quite a large white patch on the top of her head and the other was one of the palm warblers, whose tail looked like the end had been dipped in white paint, making it very distinctive. What are the chances of two of them within 15 feet of each other?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hopping with sparrows

I only visited the gardens, but lots of activity! Sun, cool, increasing breeze. 7:45 - 9:00.

Canada Goose 24 V overhead
Herring Gull 1
Mourning Dove 6
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Eastern Phoebe 1
Blue-headed Vireo 1
Blue Jay 5
Black-capped Chickadee 6
House Wren 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Swainson's Thrush 1 behind lower garden
Gray Catbird 3
Common Yellowthroat 4
Northern Parula 1 Flagged by ebird: wood margin at lower garden, with other warblers, Kinglet, BHVI
Palm Warbler 4 1 gray
Yellow-rumped Warbler 8 centered on juniper berries
Chipping Sparrow 6
Field Sparrow 1
Savannah Sparrow 2
Song Sparrow 40
Lincoln's Sparrow 1 lower garden
Swamp Sparrow 15
White-throated Sparrow 8
White-crowned Sparrow 2 juv
Northern Cardinal 8
Indigo Bunting 3
House Finch 8
American Goldfinch 12
House Sparrow 5 upper garden

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A great day for birds!

Yellow Rump Indeed!
It was 46 degrees and clear this morning. A great day for birding.

I was only at the park for a few minutes when Mary Lou turned up. Where last week we were seeing a few white throated sparrows, we are now seeing several. A few catbirds are still hanging on. The goldfinch families are still dealing with young and the house finch and cardinal families are as well, although they seem to be a little further along.

We saw a nuthatch and a couple of phoebes, mourning doves, chickadees, song sparrows and a common yellow throat. The big excitement came when we saw a northern parula and then a pine/blackpoll. At this point, Ian had joined us. The sun was warming things up a bit and suddenly there was a frenzy of birds. At first, I saw one yellow rump and then several appeared. When I went to shoot a picture, as I looked through the viewfinder, the yellow rump was gone and there was a Nashville in its place! We saw a kinglet and Ian and Mary Lou saw several palm warblers and a juvenile white crowned sparrow. I love these bird flurries, but then just as quickly as they appeared, they disappear and all is quiet...

Incognito Chipmunk!
The upper gardens appeared quiet at first, but as we worked our way through to the back of the gardens, we saw more phoebes, lots of song sparrows, a savannah sparrow, another pine/blackpoll. Ian spotted something yellow high in an oak tree near the bee hives and as we zoomed in on it, it was a bright, black-throated green! More kinglets flitted in the oak trees, a black and white warbler combed through the bark for insects and then we saw what Mary Lou had seen - the blue headed vireo! We had quite a nice view of it with it's blue head, white spectacles and beautiful yellow body. A red-eyed vireo flew from branch to branch, a titmouse appeared and a red-bellied woodpecker which was nice as I haven't seen or heard one at the park for quite a while. A few juncos were making their clicking noises from a nearby shrub. Ian and I thought we saw at least one, possibly two Lincoln sparrows. The streaking looked right, but if the buffy color on the breast was there, it was very, very pale.

Wooly Bear Caterpillar
An indigo bunting was feeding on some seeds and though the body was a tawny color, the tail definitely showed blue. I saw a wood thrush with it's dark brown spots for a split second on a tree and then it flew off towards the woods. Saw a couple of blue jays and a few robins. A flicker was squawking and flew to a nearby branch.

Don't forget, there's a Brookline Bird Club Bird Walk with Sylvia Martin, October 8th (Columbus Day) at the park. Meet at 8:00 a.m. at the Winchester Street entrance.