Saturday, December 29, 2012

Calm before the storm...

Though I love walking around Nahanton after a pretty snow, I wasn't sure what was in store, so I decided to go Saturday before the storm.

I got there much later than usual - around 8:30 a.m. It was 29 degrees and overcast.

I've been reading about Haynes' sightings of the red shouldered hawk and was wondering if I might encounter it, which sadly, I didn't.

The lower gardens had a thin layer of snow and was very quiet when I first arrived. Hanging around for awhile, a few birds started to reveal themselves. A song sparrow appeared, then some robins, and a few goldfinches. There was a tree covered with starlings which happened around this time last winter and three seagulls flew overhead.

I decided to take the path by the swamp to get to the upper gardens and immediately heard a Carolina wren calling. In search of it, I discovered a tufted titmouse, but never did see "Caroline". Still hoping to see an owl again but didn't, except that I suddenly noticed something large flying overhead, but it was so fast, I had no idea what type of bird it was. The gardens were deadly quiet - just a few chickadees and a downy hanging around the edges of the woods.

Down by the dock I saw a lovely hoodie couple parading down the river looking très elegant! A raucous blue jay screamed from a nearby tree. Half a dozen little white throated sparrows were searching for food, hopping along the ice that formed in the sometimes swampy area on the side of the river path. I even saw one slip a little and thought of them having little ice-skates with scarves wrapped around their necks, flapping in the wind, having a gay old time skating around the miniature pond!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Red-shouldered Hawk!

A Red-shouldered Hawk was perched, beautifully, in trees next to the upper garden. A photographer named John miraculously appeared for the event. I have been hearing a RSHA there since mid October, but this is the first time I've seen it. 

Otherwise, very quiet. The Song Sparrows were celebrating the sun by trying to sing a bit. A Carolina Wren issued a few notes in the lower garden.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Bird Count

Lianne and Dorothy
Today was the Christmas Bird Count. We were lucky that the lousy day predicted wasn't to start until noon, and even though it was chilly, at least it wasn't windy.

I was in a group with Lianne and Dorothy. Our territory was Hammond Pond, Houghton gardens, Newton South and Kennard Park.

I'm sorry to say that it was awfully quiet for us. I don't have my list in front of me, but a few of the highlights included 4-5 ring-necked ducks, a blue heron seen by Dorothy, a brown creeper as we entered the path at Hammond Pond and a Sharp-shinned hawk in a backyard near Houghton gardens.

Otherwise, we were lucky to see a few blue jays, chickadees, titmice, robins, downies, a red-breasted nuthatch, a white-breasted nuthatch, a song sparrow, a tree sparrow, house finches, goldfinches, juncos, mourning doves, sea gulls (we couldn't see well enough to identify), Canada geese, mallards and a red-tail hawk. We heard a Carolina wren at Newton South, but didnt see it. We didn't see the Northern Shovelers that Matt saw earlier at the reservoir and then were reported to have landed in Hammond Pond. That would have been quite nice!

Kinglet Saturday

A quiet 40 minutes at Nahanton Park on Saturday morning. Quite a bit of activity around the lower garden, and in the pines behind the nature center. (That's where the kinglet and the woodpeckers were.)

Canada Goose  1
Herring Gull  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Downy Woodpecker  1
Blue Jay  2
Tufted Titmouse  2     one with two-part song, dee-duhh, then the same but much higher pitched
White-breasted Nuthatch  2
Golden-crowned Kinglet  1
American Robin  22
European Starling  4
American Tree Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  12
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)  12
Northern Cardinal  1
American Goldfinch  12

Sunday, December 9, 2012


It was 38 degrees and sunny this morning at 8:00 a.m. The meadow is officially mowed and the chain link fence has been replaced with more large boulders. It looks really nice!

The birds were generally in a large, mixed flock, searching for seeds that fell to the ground after the mowing and in the area towards the golf course where it hadn't been mowed. There were large groups of goldfinches, house finches, a couple of song sparrows, juncos, and two tree sparrows.

Around the corner were a family of cardinals, a couple of titmice and some white throated sparrows. A mourning dove called.

I decided to take the path by the swamp in never-ending hopes of seeing a barred owl again. It's funny how you never forget something cool you saw and where you saw it and you always hope it will happen again - even though it's most unlikely.

It was a nice walk though and then I pinned my hopes on seeing the blue heron again. I was very careful this time not to make any noise, but I didn't see him along the river.

As I headed back towards the pond, I ran into Ian who showed me my first red-breasted nuthatch. It was quite beautiful. He also mentioned that there were red-headed ducks at Hammond Pond. As we were talking, the blue heron appeared overhead - flying towards the river. A nice way to end a beautiful walk.

Don't forget the Christmas Birdcount is next weekend - Sunday, December 16th at 7:00 a.m. If you would like to join the owl watchers, come at 5:00 a.m.! Alison Leary (cell: 617-821-5619) is heading the Newton count this year. We will be meeting at Cris Criscitiello's house again at 2 Raeburn Terrace in Newton Highlands.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Pretty quiet...

Though it was supposed to warm up later in the day, it was still a wintry 33 degrees at 8:00 a.m.

The meadow has now had it's fall hair cut, but there are plenty of  seeds on the ground for the birds. As I approached the lower gardens, I was greeted by quite a large group of house finches. I counted at least 5 males and 5 females in the group.

Several formations of canadian geese flew overhead at different times. Song sparrows, juncos, house finches and white throated sparrows seemed to travel around together foraging for seeds on the ground or weeds that were still standing tall. A family of goldfinches had picked an area near Bill's garden that they seemed quite partial to.

Which brought me to an unexpected sight. Opposite Bill's garden, a dumpster has been placed and filled with much brush, scrub and invasive multi-flora rose. Are they planning to add more gardens to this area?

Additional regulars around the park included cardinals, robins, nuthatches and mourning doves. I was hoping for some golden crowned kinglets, but no such luck.

It's funny that Matt is writing about barred owls, because that was very much on my mind today and therefore, the reason that I decided to take the path at the top of the upper gardens that leads down to the river.

Unfortunately, I didn't see any barred owls, but I did surprise some kind of creature. I was trying to take a picture of snow on the fallen tree branches, when I heard some kind of action in the water nearby. I was annoyed with myself for frightening this creature and not knowing what it was. Maybe it was a muskrat or a beaver. However, I then saw a flash of gray-blue and some large wings, leading me to the conclusion that it must be a blue heron - and so late in the season! I hoped that it hadn't gone too far and that this time I would be more careful, but sure enough, as I proceeded on my way, I spooked it again and it flew up and away. Though I didn't get a great look at it, I'm sure that's what it was, unless anyone has a better idea.