Sunday, December 29, 2013

Very quiet….

It was 33 degrees and cloudy today at 8:15. Mary Lou had arrived just before me, so we ended up walking around together. I was hoping to see the field sparrow and hermit thrush that Haynes saw on Friday.

It was one of the quietest days I can remember. The lower gardens were dead quiet. Eventually, we heard some goldfinches flying overhead and managed to see two groups of crows flying, some blue jays, and a mockingbird. Finally saw a robin, a couple of mourning doves, a seagull flying and a chickadee. At the end of our walk, we went around the lower gardens again and saw several robins and about eight house finches, but that was about it. Mary Lou managed to see a lone song sparrow, but I missed it.

The upper gardens were even more sparse. All we saw was a lone cardinal although I suspect his mate was nearby.

The soccer field yielded one robin and Woodcock meadow seemed devoid of any life. We walked the path through the woods near the JCC. As we rounded the bend, there was a small flurry of activity yielding some chickadees, titmice, white-breasted nuthatches, a red-bellied woodpecker and a cute little brown creeper.

Where were all the juncos, song sparrows, white-throated sparrows and tree sparrows? We wondered if they were hunkered down waiting for the impending rain storm...

Friday, December 27, 2013

Late December surprises

A quiet and pretty morning in the park. The surprise was a Field Sparrow. 

Red-tailed Hawk  1
Ring-billed Gull  1
Herring Gull  1
Downy Woodpecker  2
Blue Jay  10
American Crow  1
Black-capped Chickadee  4
Carolina Wren  1     with WTSP and HETH
Hermit Thrush  1     with CAWR and WTSP, west edge of soccer field. Photos
American Robin  12
Field Sparrow  1     Weeds and path edge at meeting of path and lower garden. Pink bill and legs, complete eyering, blank look, brown cap, gray wrapping around auricular, flanks grayish, tan bib ending rather sharply at pale underparts, indistinct wingbars. Face pattern less bold than in summer bird. Quiet. In company of Song Sparrows and Juncos.
Song Sparrow  8
White-throated Sparrow  1     with CAWR and HETH, west edge of soccer field
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)  8
House Finch  12
American Goldfinch  20

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Surprise raptor

Not having time to participate in the CBC this year, I decided to make a quick pass through Nahanton Park, which lies outside the Greater Boston circle. Very soon after I arrived, a juvenile Northern Harrier  coursed across the Wildflower Meadow, then up over the tree margin at the river and out of sight. I have seen this species here once before, a long time ago, but very high. This bird was IN the park, not just over it.

In other news, the Towhees seem to have moved on. I think I heard a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker near the circle at the soccer field, but I couldn't find the bird.

Here's a list....

Canada Goose  8
Northern Harrier  1     
gull sp.  1
Mourning Dove  2
Downy Woodpecker  3
Hairy Woodpecker  1     flyover
Blue Jay  10
American Crow  2
Black-capped Chickadee  4
Tufted Titmouse  8
White-breasted Nuthatch  3
American Robin  30
Northern Mockingbird  1     lower garden
American Tree Sparrow  4     corner of lower garden
Song Sparrow  5
White-throated Sparrow  3
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)  15
Northern Cardinal  6
House Finch  6
American Goldfinch  15

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas Bird Count

Due to predicted storm, the Bird Count has been rescheduled to Saturday, December 21st. 
Please Join Us!

P.S. Ian reported hearing and seeing a towhee in the lower gardens on Saturday, December 14th in the a.m. It was 11 degrees! It will be interesting to see if it stays the whole winter...

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Thrushes, Finches, and Towhees

Cedar Waxwing
This morning I spent some time around the nature center end of Nahanton Park today: the dock, the driveway, and Woodcock Field. Most of the activity seemed to be centered there: a male Belted Kingfisher perched quietly on a branch under the bridge; a large flock of Cedar Waxwings was overhead; and in the thickets at the road end of Woodcock Meadow there were a pair of Hermit Thrushes and an Eastern Towhee. A white pine in Woodcock Field hosted a pair of Golden-crowned Kinglets, and, briefly, a beautiful female Purple Finch. Here's a complete list of what I saw. Suzette and Ian encountered a couple more Towhees in the gardens and some strange footprints on the dock!

Canada Goose 1
Mallard 5
Belted Kingfisher 1 m, low under bridge
Mystery footprints?
Red-bellied Woodpecker 2
Downy Woodpecker 2
Blue Jay 10
American Crow 1
Black-capped Chickadee 10
Tufted Titmouse 4
White-breasted Nuthatch 2
Carolina Wren 2
Golden-crowned Kinglet 2 Woodcock field
Hermit Thrush 2 thicket at far end of woodcock field
American Robin 25
Cedar Waxwing 30 large flock at nature center, smaller flyover at gardens
Eastern Towhee 1 F, in thickets at far end of woodcock field. Continuing.
American Tree Sparrow 2 Nature Center
Song Sparrow 12
White-throated Sparrow 4
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) 12
Northern Cardinal 2
House Finch 15
Purple Finch 1 F, pine, associating with GCKI
American Goldfinch 15

On my way over there I took the path past the bee hives down to the river. Beavers have been busy! 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Late Sparrows and Winter Sparrows

American Tree Sparrow
 I stopped by the park this morning thinking of trying to find the Dark-eyed Junco that could be from the Pink-sided subtypes. While the rain was holding off, the sky was gray and heavy. When I arrived at the lower gardens, Dark Eyed Juncos (Slate-colored), Robins, House Finches, and a Cedar Waxwing were all quickly found. I kept looking at the Junco’s hoping to find one with a contrasting gray hood, dark lores, and pinkish sides, but so far everyone seemed like the usual Slate-colored, though a few females were overall browner. I was excited to find this American Tree Sparrow, I completely missed them last winter. The low light made taking pictures much more challenging. I also found a pair of Eastern Towhees that have been hanging on despite the advancing seasons.

Dark-eyed Junco
The Juncos seemed to all be keeping in the brush and only cam out occasionally, they weren’t hanging out in the open to allow easy inspections. I did manage to find a bird that could be a Pink-sided, but I’m not sure that this is the bird that Haynes and Ryan referred to.  In one picture it looks more like a possible Pink-sided and others it just looks more like a brown female of the Slate-colored type, at least I think it is the same bird (see pictures and click to enlarge). Though crosses between all the types make identification really challenging and probably one of the reasons they are all just considered a single species.

Dark-eyed Junco
I then went through the upper gardens and down the path to the river and mostly saw the usual residents. Up in the meadow I picked up another flock of Juncos and then a rusty red sparrow popped out of the Juncos, it was a Fox Sparrow! I had thought they might have moved on by now. While I only have a brief view, it was refreshing to finally find a Fox Sparrow in MA.

I was then hoping to go back to the Juncos in the lower garden, but ran out of time. While the birds seemed to be pretty skittish today and the views were brief, it was still a great morning at the park. (Full list here) 

Monday, December 2, 2013

December Towhees

Very still this morning. The Towhees are still present (at least two of them; as many as 5 have been reported recently). I am also pretty sure I heard a Baltimore Oriole song, three bursts, at the base of the path cutting through the woods to the drive way from the upper garden. But I couldn't locate the bird. Mainly, the woods near the lower garden were full of Cedar Waxwings.

Canada Goose  1
Mallard  2
Red-bellied Woodpecker  3
Blue Jay  10
Black-capped Chickadee  5
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
American Robin  40
European Starling  30
Cedar Waxwing  25     Conservative. Trees at base of lower garden, and above mulch area
Eastern Towhee  2     F seen, another heard, both at lower garden. Continuing birds.
American Tree Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  10
White-throated Sparrow  4
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)  25     
Northern Cardinal  4
House Finch  6

Ryan Merrill reported a possible pink-sided junko, a female, among the slate-colored ones. Here's a very poor photo of a candidate for this bird. Note the black lores and gray (not brown) hood, contrasting with the brown back. The bird stood out in the crowd. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Towhees love Nahanton!

Eastern Towhee
It was 41 degrees and sunny at 8:00 a.m. It was dead quiet, save for some City workers who were removing a few of the large rocks that now border the parking lot and the meadow and transferring them to another park…

The lower gardens were so still, I didn't even hear or see any of our winter regulars - not even a robin at that point. I finally saw a shape on a shrub and when I looked through my binoculars, I was staring at the male towhee!!! Still here! Now, it really is getting late. He was a beautiful specimen and I scrambled into the brush near the center crabapple tree to get a better look. I think the female was foraging in the leaf litter, but I really didn't see her. He then flew off, and as I emerged from the scrub, there was Haynes! He had seen the towhee fly off across the path.

Ian showed up a few minutes later and then the towhee started calling from where I had first seen him. He posed right out in the open and gave me a chance to capture him for posterity! Isn't he elegant? We could hear goldfinches overhead and some blue jays. Eventually we saw robins, a few song sparrows, house finches, juncos and a Coopers hawk, but it was unusually quiet.

Double-crested Cormorant
The upper gardens were a little more active. We saw several juncos, a white throated sparrow sunning itself while perched in the fork of a tree branch as well as several goldfinches, some song sparrows and several American tree sparrows, many of which were in the oak trees behind the gardens as well as some shrubs near us. A white breasted nuthatch was combing the bark of one of the old oaks. Ian saw a swamp sparrow.

The soccer field was quiet and the pond had a tiny little bit of water in it from the rain this week, but no signs of life. As we headed to the river, Ian spotted a Double- crested cormorant gliding down the river. I was amazed, as in my four years of coming to the park, I have never seen one in this area. Seems pretty late. Doesn't it want to be in Florida?

We walked through Woodcock meadow and the woods behind the JCC but didn't see anything of note.

How long will the towhees be with us?

Haynes' Official List
Canada Goose  2
Double-crested Cormorant  1     swimming on the river
Cooper's Hawk  1
Blue Jay  6
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
American Robin  20
European Starling  2
Eastern Towhee  1     Continuing. Male, calling and visible, SW corner of lower garden. Possibly a second EATO there too. Photo.
American Tree Sparrow  10
Song Sparrow  8
White-throated Sparrow  1
Dark-eyed Junco  12
House Finch  4
American Goldfinch  20

Click to view online.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Our bluebird friends appeared - finally!

8:00 a.m., it was 43 degrees and cloudy.

I toured around the lower gardens seeing chickadees, juncos, cardinals, white-throated sparrows, song sparrows, blue jays and robins. A carolina wren called from the golf course side.

Several house finches gathered together on a shrub. A mourning dove flew off from it's perch near the sumac. A towhee male appeared in that little triangle of scrub near the meadow where the seeds were attracting goldfinches and song sparrows in large numbers and American tree sparrows foraged nearby on the ground.

Ian appeared and I went around again with him. The large flock of cedar waxwings that Haynes saw yesterday flew from tree to tree and then back again. It's so nice to see birds in larger numbers than one or two. Ian spotted a bluebird in one of the trees of heaven and then we saw a second one on another branch. We were just saying a few weeks ago how no one has seen a bluebird this fall at the park and it was so strange, so better late than never! One bird was clearly a male, but we had some discussion as to whether the second bird was a young male or a female as it was grayish in color, but with more blue on it's back then I think the female normally has, but hard to say…

It seems at this time of year, the upper gardens are much quieter than the lower gardens and why that is, I have no idea. We did manage to see a white-throated sparrow, a flicker and a pair of cardinals.

The soccer field yielded some titmice and later a female towhee munching on some bright red, yummy looking berries. The pond has been waterless for some time now, thus living up to its reputation as an official vernal pool.

Looks like the kids from the Nature Center programs have filled up some of the bird feeders! The cardinal couldn't wait to get in there.

Still haven't seen the fox sparrows...

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Eastern Towhees and Fox Sparrows

I finally had a chance to catch up with the late Towhees and the Fox Sparrows at the Park this morning. Very birdy, especially the lower garden. Here's what I found: 

Canada Goose  75     flock of 60 flying off golf course
Mallard  3     river
Red-tailed Hawk  1     im., nature center
Ring-billed Gull  1
Downy Woodpecker  2
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  2
Blue Jay  10
Black-capped Chickadee  8
Tufted Titmouse  4
White-breasted Nuthatch  2
Carolina Wren  3     lower garden, pond, Woodcock Field
American Robin  75
Northern Mockingbird  1     nature center, harassing RTHA with BLJAs
Cedar Waxwing  15     incl flock mixed with AMRO at nature center
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  2     Woodcock Field
Eastern Towhee  2     Continuing; first observed by Suzette Nov 10. Both F, one lower garden, one upper garden.
American Tree Sparrow  6
Savannah Sparrow  1     above lower garden
Fox Sparrow  2     Woodcock Field, continuing
Song Sparrow  20
Swamp Sparrow  1     upper garden
White-throated Sparrow  4
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)  55     mainly lower garden
Northern Cardinal  3
House Finch  12
American Goldfinch  15

Friday, November 15, 2013

Towhee Obsessed!

I had an email from Donna today. She had found a nest in her asparagus when she was cleaning her garden and she was hoping I could take a look at it so I headed to the park after I dropped my daughter off at school.

Took me a while, but I finally found the little nest on the ground in the ferny remains of the asparagus. Funny, but Haynes had thought there were song sparrows building a nest in the asparagus in the spring as he had seen song sparrows flying in and out, but try as we might, we were never able to see the nest. Aren't they amazing?

As I quickly walked around a bird caught my eye in the crabapple in the center of the lower gardens. It was a female towhee and I was most excited. Then I realized there were two more towhees near her - both males! And darn, I didn't have my camera.

Ran back home, got the camera and rushed back!

This time, I found them foraging in the leaf litter in the scrubby little area between the meadow and the lower gardens.

They got wise to me and flew off to another area where I followed them. They travelled around the gardens in their little group. It's very exciting that they've been so visible.

You never know what you are going to see. There was also a red-tailed hawk that was making some of the birds nervous. It clearly has been hunting as there were several feathers of a bird on the ground that had definitely been eaten. I couldn't identify what type of bird it had been, but it did have fairly long feathers so it was a larger sized bird, possibly a blue jay.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A very late Eastern Towhee migrant!

Tufted titmouse
It was 8:15, 44 degrees and cloudy when I arrived at the park.

The path near the meadow and parking lot was loaded with titmice, nuthatches and chickadees. The nuthatches surprised me because they were foraging on the ground instead of on tree trunks but as soon as they saw me, they flew up to safer locations. The titmice seemed quite tame as they paraded around while I watched. Chickadees were busy flitting from branch to branch in search of berries and other good things to eat.

The lower gardens had dozens of robins and some jays. Families of goldfinches scoured one of their favorite gardens where the weeds have been cut down this week, but the birds seem undeterred as they searched the ground instead of perching and eating. Our usual song sparrows, juncos, house finches, cardinals and white throated sparrows were busy as well. I was still hoping for a fox sparrow, but it wasn't to be. Several cedar waxwing families were gathered atop various trees, very busy for themselves.

Surprisingly, I didn't see or hear one bird in the upper gardens. I couldn't believe it. However, with the leaves starting to fall, I've been finding nests all over the park that I had no idea were there in the breeding months. Despite the nests we did find this summer, it's amazing how many more nests were hiding in plain view. You have to admire these little guys and gals.

Eastern Towhee
The soccer field path and pond were quiet as well, save for lots of robins on the field and the odd downy woodpecker. Woodcock meadow had a few jays, robins, cardinals and juncos. A seagull flew overhead. Finally, I saw a couple of yellow-rumped warblers in a cypress tree which was a nice treat.

As I headed back to the car, I decided to take one more look around the lower gardens. Saw what I think were a couple of chippers on the ground (although I was thinking possibly tree sparrows, but didn't see the spot on the chest). Once inside the lower gardens, I caught a glimpse of what looked like a very weird robin, but as soon as I got my binoculars on it, I realized it was an Eastern towhee! It had a beautiful black head and back, the rufous sides and smaller than a robin. I had a really good look at it in two different locations. Although it's not the most flattering view from the backside, I was glad to have some evidence of its presence, since it is quite late, but not unheard of, for a towhee to be seen. Is the same one we saw a few weeks ago?

Monday, November 4, 2013

This just in from Mary Lou….

5 Fox sparrows together in field behind boat rental. Seen at 8 AM in the fruit trees on narrow path that parallels and is closest to river.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Finally, the Red Shouldered Hawk reveals itself!

Red-shouldered Hawk
7:30 a.m. 43 degrees and cloudy, but skies clearing. A beautiful morning.

When I first arrived, I could hear the distinctive call of a Carolina wren coming from the golf course side of the lower gardens. There were several robins, a pair of cardinals, goldfinches, many many juncos, house finches, jays, white-throated sparrows, chipping, song, and swamp sparrows. A pair of flickers on the ground were doing a strange dance around each other, kind of like the lobster quadrille in Alice & Wonderland.

Haynes arrived and after a quick review of the lower gardens, we decided to check out the sunnier upper gardens in hopes of seeing the grasshopper sparrow that Mary Lou had seen yesterday. Ian and then Jonathan arrived shortly thereafter.

In the upper gardens, were chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, a downy woodpecker and goldfinches. Several sparrows were satisfying their curiosity about the brush and compost piles convinced that lots of good things to eat must be in there. Of course there were song sparrows, but we also spotted a Lincoln sparrow, and some swamp sparrows. Mourning doves flew overhead. A thrush which we assumed to be a hermit thrush appeared briefly in a bush in the back of the gardens. A lone yellow rump was high in an oak tree. We heard an Eastern towhee calling and it was so close, we decided we had to try and find it. We heard it right near the path on the swamp side of the woods. Finally, someone spotted it and we all had a chance to see it and then of course if flew off to another tree and disappeared.

Yellow-Rumped Warbler
Down near the soccer field, we heard a scolding sound and Ian saw a house wren, which is awfully late in the season. Ian also caught a glimpse of a red-breasted nuthatch and a bright, red-bellied woodpecker called from high up in a tree. The pond is dried up illustrating how it is truly a vernal pool. One of today's highlights was the red-shouldered hawk that was sitting proudly, high up in a tree across the river. On Florrie's path were two colorful yellow rumps and three young Cedar waxwings.

Rump View!
A sociable yellow rump appeared in Woodcock meadow and flitted from tree to tree as we looked around, turning like a model, to give us a good front and back view!

Our walk through the woods was relatively quiet, but as we rounded the bend near the JCC we saw a couple of golden-crowned kinglets flitting all about. What a nice way to end a great morning!

Here's is Haynes' Complete List:

Northern Flicker  1
Blue Jay  6
American Crow  3
Black-capped Chickadee  4
Tufted Titmouse  4
Red-breasted Nuthatch  2
White-breasted Nuthatch  6
House Wren  1     heard rattling and then seen. circle.
Carolina Wren  2
Golden-crowned Kinglet  1
Hermit Thrush  1     back of upper garden
American Robin  30
Cedar Waxwing  3
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  6     various places
Eastern Towhee  2     Once m seen clearly, the other fleeting.  Both calling. One in upper garder, a second near pond.
Chipping Sparrow  8
Field Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  25
Lincoln's Sparrow  1     brush pile at upper garden
Swamp Sparrow  2
White-throated Sparrow  20
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)  32     throughout
Northern Cardinal  6
Common Grackle  10
House Finch  1
American Goldfinch  12

View this checklist online

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Grasshopper Sparrow!

I just read an email from Mary Lou saying that she found a Grasshopper Sparrow at Nahanton this morning! She said the bird was in the upper gardens by the bee hives.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Full Moon Morning

I had a busy Sunday, but didn't want to miss out on Nahanton, so I got there kind of early - 6:30 a.m. It was 51 degrees. I was hoping if I was that early, that maybe I'd see some deer, coyote or owls, but it was very, very quiet. The moon was out. I always love seeing the moon during the day.

I spent a lot of time in the lower gardens where I saw our usuals: robins, jays, song sparrows and cardinals. There were several white throated sparrows and then I noticed an unusual sparrow. It's beak was quite bright and orange and it's breast clear. Finally decided it must be a field sparrow and having now seen Hayne's list from yesterday, hopefully I was right (see picture below, left). Turned out there were several - some in the lower and more in the upper gardens. An elegant Lincoln sparrow was busy in the crab apple in the center of the lower gardens. I believe I also caught a glimpse of the black-throated green that Ian had seen on the BBC walk yesterday, but not 100 percent sure. Briefly saw some yellow and black and slight streaking on the sides, so I couldn't be sure.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Field Sparrow
There were several kinglets in the lower gardens, very busy for themselves as usual. I was desperately trying to photograph one of them but they just won't sit still. I caught this one preening and was amazed to see it's shock of red on the top of it's head!

By the time I got to the upper gardens, the sun was finally out and things were heating up! There were more kinglets! Chickadees and titmice were going crazy over the sunflower seeds.

Young  Phoebe

A new sign has appeared with information on the bee keeper David R. Chipping, song and field sparrows were foraging in the compost pile as well as scouring the ground and flitting in and out of the bent birch tree. A nuthatch appeared marching up and down a tree trunk. A young phoebe was preening in the sun. It was hard to pull myself away to my commitments, but luckily, at the back of the gardens, I spotted a lone, female yellow-rumped warbler. That made it a little easier to leave.

The season seems to pass so quickly. Hopefully, we will have a few more weeks of interesting sightings and then, alas we will have to wait for spring...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Linda's walk

Linda Ferraresso led a BBC walk through Nahanton Park this morning. Not a huge number of sparrows, and the hoped-for Clay-colored Sparrow was a no-show, but it was a beautiful morning in good company.  Here's my unofficial list. The Red-eyed Vireo didn't show for the group, and the White-crowned Sparrow seen by others didn't show for me. A five-woodpecker morning!

Double-crested Cormorant  1
Osprey  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  4
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  1     woods
Downy Woodpecker  4
Hairy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  4
Red-eyed Vireo  1
Blue Jay  12
Black-capped Chickadee  8
Tufted Titmouse  15
White-breasted Nuthatch  7
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  2
American Robin  40
Northern Mockingbird  1
European Starling  12
Blackpoll Warbler  1     woods
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  4
Black-throated Green Warbler  1
Chipping Sparrow  3
Field Sparrow  1     Woodcock field
Song Sparrow  10
Swamp Sparrow  2
White-throated Sparrow  4
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)  2
Northern Cardinal  6
Red-winged Blackbird  3
Common Grackle  450     250 counted; and another large flock
Brown-headed Cowbird  2
House Finch  12
American Goldfinch  18

Monday, October 14, 2013

All quiet

A quiet morning, sunny and still. I got there a little before 8:00 and soon was joined by several other birders. The highlight was a Wilson's Warbler in the Alanthus in the lower garden, perhaps the same bird as was reported recently. The Red-shouldered Hawk seems to be back. I recorded it pretty consistently between October 17 and December 23 last year.

Mallard  4
Cooper's Hawk  1     first a flyover, then low strafe over lower garden
Red-shouldered Hawk  1     heard along the river
Herring Gull  4     tight formation
Mourning Dove  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  2
Downy Woodpecker  1
Hairy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  2
Eastern Phoebe  1
Blue-headed Vireo  1     edge of upper garden
Blue Jay  8
American Crow  3
Black-capped Chickadee  12
Tufted Titmouse  8
White-breasted Nuthatch  4
Brown Creeper  1     woods above pond
Golden-crowned Kinglet  1     woods above pond
American Robin  25
Gray Catbird  1
Cedar Waxwing  4
Blackpoll Warbler  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  6
Wilson's Warbler  1     In Alanthus in lower garden. olive back and crown, bright yellow underparts. Seen by others
Chipping Sparrow  8
Savannah Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  10
Swamp Sparrow  2
White-throated Sparrow  6
Northern Cardinal  4
Red-winged Blackbird  1
Common Grackle  20
House Finch  20
American Goldfinch  18
House Sparrow  3

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Exciting sighting by Brian C.

Saw the 13 turkeys foraging a front yard on Winchester St. before I arrived at the park at about 7:45 a.m. It started off a little chilly at 46 degrees, but it was clear and the sun was coming out.

I ran into David T. in the lower gardens as he was leaving. He was excited to have seen a clay colored sparrow which sadly, I never did see. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of all the great birds that had been seen by Matt, Haynes and Mary Lou this week, but it wasn't to be. Did have fun watching the titmice, chickadees and nuthatches going crazy with the sunflower seed heads. This one is getting ready to chow down.

Nuthatch acrobatics
Saw many of our regulars; robins, blue jays, gold finches, song sparrows, catbird, and mourning doves. Then, as I rounded the bend of the path on the golf course side, I saw a bright yellow warbler. Couldn't quite identify it at first. The two closest birds in Sibley's were the prothonotary or a Wilson's. Then I saw a very colorful female or juvenile common yellowthroat. Thankfully, Jonathan turned up and we actually saw the bright yellow warbler again. We got a pretty good look at it and determined it was a female or juvenile Wilson's. The prothonotary would have been a long shot really.

By then, Mary Lou had arrived. We saw a couple of juncos house finches and chippers. A large "V" formation of Canada geese flew overhead. Several grackles appeared, some cardinals and a swamp sparrow.

Young Deer
As we headed to the upper gardens Mary Lou spotted a young deer who was heading that way as well! It was pretty quiet up there. Saw some chickadees, more chipping sparrows, several goldfinches, cardinals and a white throated sparrow.

As we were leaving, we met a guy named Will, who was from Concord. It was his first time at our park and he was there because he had seen a posting from Brian C. on Massbird. Brian, who had been at the park very early in the morning Saturday, saw a blue grosbeak!!!, and a rose breasted grosbeak in the lower gardens. He also found an American woodcock and three Eastern screech owls.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Nahanton Park Delivers

Clay-colored Sparrow
 This morning I walked to the T, only to find all the commuters milling about. Apparently the T wasn’t running and there was a rumor going around of a fire on the tracks. At this point in time I learned that it would be a very long wait for a bus, so I turned around and got the car. I figured if I was driving, I might as well stop by Nahanton Park. And that was one of my best birding decisions in a while. As I drove up to the park a flock of a dozen Turkeys were crossing Winchest St. and blocking traffic. I took it as a good sign.

When I got out of the car and headed into the lower gardens the 3rd or 4th species that I found was a Yellow-breasted Chat. It was in the tree with berries mingling with House Finches immediately on the right after entering the gardens. I saw him long enough to make out the bright yellow under-parts, white spectacles and heavy beak. I raised my camera just in time to get a backside shot before he vanished. Just like a chat (You can see a better picture I took last winter in Boston here). I sent off an email about the Chat to Haynes and Suzette, then starting looking for Mary Lou. We searched in vain for the Chat, but we did see a Blackpoll Warbler and hummingbird flitting around the lower gardens, we assumed that it was the continuing Ruby-throated Hummingbird reported by Haynes 2 days ago.  

Philadelphia Vireo
After May Lou left, I started through the gardens checking out the sparrows and found a Clay-colored Sparrow! I have had them on the brain since talking with Ryan about the possibility that they might show up at the park. I kept my eyes on the sparrows (mostly Song and Chipping) trying to sort through them, when who should appear but Haynes! Apparently my email had done the trick. We quickly found a Lincoln’s Sparrow in with the other sparrows while a Philadelphia Vireo appeared up in a tree. We worked our way back over to where the Chat had shown and only found the Blackpoll Warblers.

As we started towards the upper gardens the Clay-colored Sparrow appeared again and it was very nice to have Haynes confirm the identification.  In the upper gardens we picked up a Yellow-rumped Warbler, a Red-eyed Vireo, and another Lincoln’s. Additionally Haynes found a Savannah Sparrow, and I had a Swamp Sparrow. In the end, the Chat never did turn up again, but I wonder if it could be the same Chat found last month by Mary Lou and Suzette? If so, will we see it again?

Yellow-breasted Chat
Full List:

Wild Turkey  12     Winchester St.
hawk sp.  1
Mourning Dove  2
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1     seen at a distance.
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  1
Philadelphia Vireo  1    Lower Gardens
Red-eyed Vireo  1
Blue Jay  3
Black-capped Chickadee  2
Tufted Titmouse  4
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
Carolina Wren  1
Catharus sp.  1  Lower Gardens
American Robin  15
Gray Catbird  2
European Starling  3
Cedar Waxwing  3
Blackpoll Warbler  2
Yellow-rumped Warbler  1
Yellow-breasted Chat  1     lower gardens.
Chipping Sparrow  15
Clay-colored Sparrow  1     Lower garden.
Clay-colored Sparrow 
Song Sparrow  15
Lincoln's Sparrow  2  Upper and lower gardens
Swamp Sparrow  1
White-throated Sparrow  3
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)  3
Northern Cardinal  3
Common Grackle  30
Brown-headed Cowbird  1
House Finch  8
American Goldfinch  4
House Sparrow  2

10/11 Friday Update:
I was just checking out eBird this morning and see that 3 more people have caught up with the Clay-colored on Thursday and Friday, while the Philadelphia Vireo was seen again yesterday afternoon. This almost makes me wonder if I really did see a Clay-colored last week. But no sign of the hummer or chat. It will be exciting to see what else birders might turn up this weekend.

I also found there is a little article by David Sibley about identification of Clay-colored vs. Chipping Sparrows.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Late summer, late hummer

Nice walk though the gardens this morning, 8:00 - 9:30. The highpoint was a hummingbird in the lower garden. This is very late for Ruby-throated, but I think that's what it was. 

Also the beautiful adult White-Crowned Sparrow in the upper garden, a new arrival.

Great Blue Heron  1     flyover
Ring-billed Gull  3
Mourning Dove  4
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1     F type. green irridescence on back, whitish under throughout. Short tail. Long straight bill, white behind eye. In tree in lower garden. Seen separately by another birder.
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  3
Eastern Phoebe  1
Blue-headed Vireo  1
Blue Jay  12
American Crow  1
Black-capped Chickadee  8
Tufted Titmouse  8
House Wren  3
Carolina Wren  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
American Robin  25
Gray Catbird  3
European Starling  10
Nashville Warbler  1
Common Yellowthroat  4
Eastern Towhee  1     m. upper garden
Chipping Sparrow  12
Savannah Sparrow  6
Song Sparrow  15
Lincoln's Sparrow  2
Swamp Sparrow  8
White-throated Sparrow  5
White-crowned Sparrow  1     ad, upper garden
Northern Cardinal  1
Indigo Bunting  2
Common Grackle  15
House Finch  16
American Goldfinch  12
House Sparrow  4

Clouded Sulpher butterfly

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Sparrows on a warm morning

Savannah Sparrow
 I stopped by Nahanton this morning hoping for a mix of sparrows and warblers migrating through, and I only found one unidentified warbler before a Cooper's hawk bombed into the tree. Mary Lou and I tried our best  to track down more. There were plenty of sparrows in the gardens though and I wished that I was better with identifying them! The sparrow in the top picture I just can't figure out, I'm leaning towards Savannah sparrow, but that doesn't seem to sit well either. If you have any thought please let me know!

There were lots of easier Song, Savannah, Swamp, and Chipping Sparrows though. I almost wondered if I'd had a candidate Clay Colored. But it was only the briefest of glimpses.

Beyond the usual suspects I was very happy to find the Solitary Sandpiper by the vernal pool. I've had them at City Hall and Hammond Pond, but this was my first time seeing a Solitary Sandpiper at Nahanton.

Here is the full list:
Solitary Sandpiper

1 Cooper's Hawk
1 Red-tailed Hawk
1 Solitary Sandpiper
1 gull sp.
3 Mourning Dove
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
1 Northern Flicker
1 Eastern Phoebe
5 Blue Jay
3 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Tufted Titmouse
2 White-breasted Nuthatch
1 Carolina Wren
Swamp Sparrow
1 House Wren
10 American Robin
1 Gray Catbird
1 Warbler sp.
4 Savannah Sparrow
15 Song Sparrow
3 Swamp Sparrow
2 White-throated Sparrow
2 sparrow sp.
1 Northern Cardinal
2 Common Grackle
5 House Finch
2 American Goldfinch

P.S. The consensus is that the sparrow at the top is indeed at Savannah Sparrow. The face just had much for buff and less contrast than I am used to seeing.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Bird Walk with Haynes Miller

At 8:00, it was 50 degrees and so foggy at first that you couldn't see a few feet in front of you. Eventually however, the fog cleared and towards the end, the sun even came out. At least it wasn't raining like the last few years!

We started down by the river, where it was relatively quiet. The pond turned out to have some of our best birds: at least one solitary sandpiper, an ovenbird!, and a ruby crowned kinglet.

In the upper gardens, some fall sparrows had shown up including swamp and savannah sparrows. On our second pass in the upper gardens we ended up seeing the indigo bunting which I thought I had seen when we were down in the lower gardens, but then thought I must have misidentified.

Here's is Haynes' complete list:

Canada Goose  X
Solitary Sandpiper  2
Ring-billed Gull  1
Herring Gull  1
Mourning Dove  4
Red-bellied Woodpecker  2
Downy Woodpecker  3
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  4
Eastern Phoebe  2
Blue Jay  8
American Crow  1
Black-capped Chickadee  8
Tufted Titmouse  4
White-breasted Nuthatch  4
House Wren  2
Carolina Wren  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1     pond
American Robin  50
Gray Catbird  6
Ovenbird  1     mud at pond
Blackpoll Warbler  1
Eastern Towhee  1
Chipping Sparrow  8
Savannah Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  20
Swamp Sparrow  2
White-throated Sparrow  3
Northern Cardinal  4
Indigo Bunting  1
Common Grackle  300     in groups of 30 flying west
House Finch  12
American Goldfinch  12
House Sparrow  2

Sunday, September 22, 2013

BBC Bird Walk with Sabrina Hepburn

Blue Dasher Dragonfly
57 degrees and foggy to start. It was a great turnout for the BBC bird walk led by Sabrina Hepburn who is amazingly knowledgeable about birds and nature.

We started in the lower gardens where most of us had the pleasure of viewing a Lincoln sparrow, a loner amongst the large number of song sparrows. Saw a common yellowthroat, and a phoebe, but oat of what we saw were our regulars.

In the upper gardens, the most productive area was at the back. With all those eyes focused on the oak trees, we started seeing all kinds of warblers, from the black-throated green, to a couple of redstarts, to a parula and magnolia warbler. We saw a couple of warblers we couldn't quite identify. Some of us caught a glimpse of a thrush and it was speculated that it was a Swainson's Thrush. Some saw a hummer whiz by and we accidentally woke up a sleepy raccoon who was comfortably napping atop a large shrub. Hayne's found this unusual mushroom in the woods as we walked the trail from upper gardens to soccer field area. The closest I could come is a parasol mushroom. If anyone knows what this is for certain, please let us know.

Mystery Mushroom
As I had to leave early, here is Hayne's official list:

Mallard  3
Solitary Sandpiper  1
Mourning Dove  3
Chimney Swift  3
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Downy Woodpecker  3
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  5
Empidonax sp.  1     lower garden. Buffy wingbars, no eyering visible
Eastern Phoebe  2
Blue Jay  6
Black-capped Chickadee  4
Tufted Titmouse  4
White-breasted Nuthatch  4
House Wren  2
Carolina Wren  1
American Robin  1
Gray Catbird  6
European Starling  2
Cedar Waxwing  8
American Redstart  3
Magnolia Warbler  2
Blackpoll Warbler  1
Pine Warbler  1
Black-throated Green Warbler  1
Chipping Sparrow  15
Song Sparrow  25
Lincoln's Sparrow  1     lower gardenj
Northern Cardinal  X
Common Grackle  6
House Finch  3
American Goldfinch  15
House Sparrow  2

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Northern Parula
A beautiful and eventful morning at Nahanton Park! Suzette, Jonathan, and I found some great birds: My very first Connecticut Warbler flew into the isolated tree in the southwest corner of the lower garden. A Winter Wren was sounding off. There were lots of other warblers about, too. At the upper garden, we were amazed to hear a Rose-breasted Grosbeak singing, and presently a young male allowed us to see him. At the back of the upper garden there was a classic dense mixed flock including several warblers and vireos (including a singing Warbling Vireo), and a Brown Thrasher. Later, in Woodcock Meadow, Jonathan and I heard what I have to think was an Acadian Flycatcher sing twice. Sadly we couldn't see didn't see this bird.

Young Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Here's a full list…

Mallard  5
Osprey  1
Mourning Dove  6
Downy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  4
Acadian Flycatcher  1     Heard only. Clear pit-za. Near the phoebes in Woodcock field; but to my knowledge they do not make such a call. 
Eastern Phoebe  2
Warbling Vireo  1     song
Red-eyed Vireo  1
Blue Jay  8
Black-capped Chickadee  6
Tufted Titmouse  5
White-breasted Nuthatch  6
House Wren  4
Winter Wren  1     heard, lower garden
American Robin  15
Gray Catbird  6
Brown Thrasher  1     Trees at back of upper garden
Cedar Waxwing  15
Connecticut Warbler  1     Flew from bushes into a tree in lower garden. Clear view: bold full eyering, bright yellow underparts, grayish throat area not darkening near bottom.
Common Yellowthroat  1
American Redstart  1     m
Northern Parula  5
Blackpoll Warbler  2
Pine Warbler  2
Black-throated Green Warbler  1
Chipping Sparrow  30
Song Sparrow  30     many tailless
Northern Cardinal  2
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  2     one im m in song
Common Grackle  12
American Goldfinch  30

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Patience is a virtue

I met up with Suzette this morning and walked through the lower and upper gardens. After she left I went back to the lower garden to see what else I could find there. I located the Red-eyed Vireo she had found, and a little while later an Indigo Bunting decided to show itself. The most interesting bird was a good candidate for a Clay-colored Sparrow: dark moustachial and malar stripes, tan wash over the breast. What was missing was a clear pale crown stripe. But perhaps they can hide that. Maybe I'll get a better look tomorrow morning.

Friday, September 13, 2013

This just in from Mary Lou...

Wilson's, Nashville, and Common yellowthroat warblers in lower garden at 10:30 AM today.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Trading a Chat for a Bay-breasted

Black-and-white Warbler
Just a brief update:

This morning I decided to swing by Nahanton, as I was inspired by the Yellow-breasted Chat found yesterday. I met Mary Lou, Haynes, and Ryan and they all talked about the warblers this morning, including a Bay-breasted! Other warblers spotted were Nashville, Black-and-white, Redstart, Parula, and a Black-throated Green. But the chat was not to be found this morning. 

Indigo Bunting
I was quite excited for the warblers, but I was apparently too late and missed the show. My only warbler of the morning was this Black-and-white, who I did get to see very well. Flickers, Blue Jays, and Cedar Waxwings seemed to be every where in the gardens and a surprise Osprey flew over as well. Fortunately Ryan pointed out an indigo bunting in her warm brown plumage. Otherwise it was mostly the usual park birds. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Yellow breasted chat!

Yellow Breasted Chat
At 7:30 a.m., it was 64 degrees and cloudy, but it looked like the sun might come out.

I would like to mention that in the last week or so, Mary Lou has seen a yellow throated vireo, black throated blues &  black-throated greens.

When I first arrived, the lower gardens were dead quiet until some blue jays started squawking. I heard a catbird and then saw several cedar waxwings eating berries from one of the crabapple trees. There were several youngsters in tow.

Cedar Waxwing young
It turned out to be a beautiful morning. Mary Lou turned up about twenty minutes after I did, but in the meantime I saw several black & white warblers (one that was still developing its adult coloration), a phoebe, flickers, house wrens, chimney swifts, cardinals, chippers, mourning doves and a common yellowthroat. We combed the gardens in hopes of seeing the indigo bunting she and Haynes had seen yesterday. Sadly, we never saw it, but did see two hummers, some barn swallows, ducks flying overhead and some downies. Mary Lou caught sight of two baby waxwings being fed bright red berries by their mom. I missed the mom, but caught the babies impatiently waiting for more!

Robins and their young were massing together flying from tree to tree. A nuthatch was scouring the bark of a nearby tree trunk. The gardens are especially attractive at this time of year with all the yummy seeds attracting goldfinches, chickadees and song sparrows in great numbers. We saw another black & white nearby. As we rounded the corner towards the back of the gardens, Mary Lou was helped up! She saw a bright yellow-breasted chat sitting right out in the open. Thank god it sat there for a moment and let me take its picture!! Shortly after it flew off and poor Jonathan who had joined us just missed it.

Young Tanager?
We all headed down to the soccer field and pond, but saw only a catbird. Mary Lou left to go a certain route but Jonathan wanted to see if he could see the chat and I was only too happy to see if I could see it again. We arrived and found this very strange looking bird sitting on a branch. It was olive yellow with a yellow belly and bright yellow under the tail, blackish gray wings, and a very slight eye ring around a black eye. It's beak was not delicate. It was very confusing because it looked a little like a winter goldfinch, but no wing bars, no orange beak and larger in size. As I looked through Sibley to look at immature goldfinches, I came across the scarlet tanager page where I saw a picture of a young tanager and it looked just like the bird we had seen. I guess it shouldn't be that surprising considering we see or mostly hear them in the spring near the JCC and hopefully this is one that was born at Nahanton!

Then we saw the chat - not for long but we saw it! Jonathan was so happy!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Some nice sightings for a rainy day!

Young Magnolia Warbler?? Prairie!
It was 71 degrees and very cloudy - looked like rain was imminent. The peewees called from the JCC woods. I was only there for a few minutes when it started pouring. Jonathan pulled up beside me as I sat in the car waiting it out and he took off with raincoat etc., undeterred.

I ended up leaving three times because the rain would start and then stop and finally at about 8:30, it finally stopped for good. I stuck it out because I kept seeing glimpses of the most interesting looking birds and luckily for me, Ian showed up about an hour later and confirmed most of my sightings.

I saw the bird pictured above in the lower and upper gardens, but the one in the lower had more yellow on top. After looking at the Sibley book several times and going over it with Ian, we decided it must be a young magnolia warbler but if anyone has other ideas, please let me know.

Donna's fabulous zinnias!
The lower gardens had other semi-mystery birds that turned out to be 1. a pine warbler, and 2. a young
yellow warbler. There seemed to be several American redstarts in various stages of age and coloration. A few common yellowthroats were out and about as well as soggy mourning doves, lots of song sparrows, catbirds, cardinals, goldfinches, a flicker, cedar waxwings, robins, blue jays and a Carolina wren calling in the distance.

There were lots of titmice and chickadees in a tree heading up to the upper gardens. Saw many of our regulars, a couple of house wrens, an eastern phoebe, several more redstarts, a common yellowthroat and the warbler pictured above. At this point, I was joined by Ian who pointed out a female hummer whizzing by. Saw a strange looking sparrow that was very pale. Ian had seen some young chipping sparrows, so we thought that may be what I had seen as well.

The pond yielded nothing but a lone female mallard and the river was dead quiet. A walk through the woods behind the JCC was equally quiet save for a couple of peewees and a white breasted nuthatch crawling up and down a tree trunk.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Not so solitary!

A walk through the park this morning under gray skies ... There was a Vireo sp and a Catharus sp at the Nature Center, both vanishing before I could id them. Also, a large and conspicuous paper wasp nest nearby. The pond is mostly mudflat, and patient staring revealed SEVEN Solitary Sandpipers. 

Mallard  4
Double-crested Cormorant  4
Great Blue Heron  1
Spotted Sandpiper  1     Flyover
Solitary Sandpiper  7     The pond is mostly mudflat.
Rock Pigeon  1     flyover
Mourning Dove  6
Chimney Swift  1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1 F , trumpet flowers in upper garden
Downy Woodpecker  2
Eastern Wood-Pewee  1     singing persistently
Blue Jay  10
Black-capped Chickadee  1
Tufted Titmouse  2
White-breasted Nuthatch  6
House Wren  3
Catharus sp.  1     warm brown back, flying off
American Robin  24
Gray Catbird  5
European Starling  3     flyover
Common Yellowthroat  2     F
Song Sparrow  8
Northern Cardinal  2
Baltimore Oriole  1
American Goldfinch  4

Sunday, August 25, 2013

They're coming…

It was 58 degrees and sunny. A beautiful day for birdwatching. The moon was out in the west looking lovely and ghostly in a clear blue sky.

When I first arrived, it was unusually quiet. All I heard were the calls of several blue jays. I wasn't there long when Mary Lou appeared, so we walked around together. Goldfinches were very intent eating seeds from the tall weeds that I haven't yet identified in the lower gardens. There were several robins and their spotted young - probably 2nd broods at this point. Cardinals and their young were there too along with catbirds, song sparrows, downy woodpeckers and a chipping sparrow.
Fishing Buddies!

The upper gardens were fairly quiet at first as well. We saw a house wren family, song sparrows, goldfinches, catbirds and finally a common yellowthroat female. As we stood for a long time gazing into the woods and the tall oak trees from the back of the gardens, the action started to improve. First we saw some titmice, then some chickadees and finally caught a glimpse of a blue gray gnatcatcher. Then a red eyed vireo appeared and Mary Lou saw a different vireo that was quite yellow on the belly, but we couldn't positively identify it. She was thinking it may have been a Philadelphia vireo. A line of 6-8 cormorants flew overhead.

Green Heron
The real excitement came down near the soccer field. Something caught Mary Lou's eye and I saw it too, but the light was not in our favor and all we could see was the bird's white underbelly and some wingbars. It flew off and we gave up. In the meantime, we saw a white breasted nuthatch, titmice, a yellow warbler and a group of chickadees. Then, surprisingly, we caught a glimpse of our mystery bird! It had a yellowish green head and the wing bars. It was a  female chestnut sided warbler (or young male?) - my first! It was beautiful. While continuing to follow her as she flew from branch to branch, we got a very quick look at a male American redstart. The warblers are starting to filter in! Saw a couple of phoebes as well.

Solitary Sandpiper
The pond turned out to be quite the hangout. A great blue heron was hunting side by side with a great white egret! A green heron was right in the middle of the pond, almost completely camoflouged save for Mary Lou's keen eye. A solitary sandpiper waded through the mud looking for goodies.

Apologies for the poor quality of some of the pictures - but I felt lucky to have gotten anything at all given the distance I was from the birds...