Sunday, May 19, 2013

Nesting Begins!

American Toad
52 degrees and sunny around 7:30 a.m.

As I got out of the car, I was greeted by three cowbirds strutting and courting a female.

I headed to the lower gardens where the house wren just can't seem to stop singing! He really loves his house. There were several catbirds, robins and song sparrows. Was surprised when I saw a male house sparrow. We really don't want them to move in to the park. Yellow warblers were singing from all over and are busy building their nests. I happened upon one near the golf course side. The nests are actually a lot larger then I would have thought and they look very cozy. Apparently the nest is mainly made of grasses but then on the outside she will use soft plant fibers, feathers, spiderwebs and dandelion down. Saw some barn swallows - seems they might be nesting somewhere nearby? I got a nice view of a warbling vireo, high up in an oak tree and some goldfinches.

Eventually, I ran into Mary Lou. In the upper gardens we had a nice view of a striking magnolia warbler and the male rose-breasted grosbeak singing from a very high branch in a huge oak tree at the back of the gardens. He was out in the open and his breast was almost glowing in the sun. Also saw some cute titmice.

We cut through the woods where we heard the ovenbird calling. I think Mary Lou saw it, but I missed it. The wood thrush was singing through the woods near the JCC, but we could hear him from across the soccer field. Mrs. Phoebe is sitting in her nest. I'll bet by next weekend, she'll be feeding her babies.

At this point Mary Lou and I split up. I really wanted to back to the upper gardens and she wanted walk
Incognito Woodchuck
through the woods. As I headed back to the soccer field area, I was thrilled to hear the pee o wee of the peewee. They're back! Raspberries starting to bloom. Can't wait to eat some if I can get to them before the birds! The upper gardens were rather uneventful, save for a flicker and this creature that thought I couldn't see him!

Found a note on my car from Mary Lou. She saw a scarlet tanager, a Swainson's thrush and also heard the peewees!

Postscript: Got an email from Donna Cohen. She had a great-crested flycatcher on a post right near her garden!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day Bird Walk!

Early arrivals to Mother's Day Bird Walk
It promised to be a rainy day, but it looked like it was holding off as we gathered at the Nahanton Street entrance for a walk with Alison Leary and Haynes Miller.

Considering the dreariness and threat of rain, everyone was a bit surprised when over 18 people showed up!

Female Cowbird
We started down by the river, where we saw a black and white warbler, cardinals, catbirds, a white breasted nuthatch, orioles, mourning doves, downy woodpeckers. We may have seen and definitely heard a warbling vireo, and red-bellied woodpecker. I also saw this female cowbird which I am now noticing in my neighborhood. Have they always been here or are they becoming more urbanized?

The rain came in fits and starts. When it was heavy, we watched from under a large tree. Eventually we headed toward the pond and soccer field. Once down there, we saw red-winged blackbirds, more catbirds, canada geese overhead, grackles, tree swallows, yellow warblers and some goldfinches. Someone saw the female red-breasted grosbeak. Haynes spotted a Northern waterthrush but unfortunately, the rest of us were too late! However, we had a great view of a male common yellowthroat in a nearby shrub. Their black mask could make you think of the lone ranger or Halloween! I love their coloring. We saw one Savannah sparrow and song sparrows. In the lower
House Wren
gardens were several pairs of tree swallows all guarding their houses. I noticed one pair had gotten kicked out and was replaced by one of our bubbly, but aggressive house wrens who was happily singing! Of course there were, orioles, song sparrows, a red-tail hawk, goldfinches, and a wood thrush which I missed.

Sadly, the mulberry tree has been taken down. The city was worried it was getting too dangerous. At least we got an extra year out of it. Our big thrill in the upper gardens was a black-throated blue warbler which we got a really good look at. Saw another common yellow throat and a blue-gray gnatcatcher which is always nice. Seagulls occasionally flew over head. All in all, despite the rain, it was a great walk.

Thanks Alison and Haynes!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Nothing like a few birds to shake off the rainy blues

Despite the gloomy morning weather, Mary Lou Kaufman, Suzette Barbier and I had a nice morning at Nahanton Park today. Here's a list. Lots of summer residents are back. We also found a bee swarm, like this one, which I found there on May 3 --

Canada Goose 2
Double-crested Cormorant 1
Ring-billed Gull 8
Mourning Dove 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) 3
Eastern Phoebe 2
Great Crested Flycatcher 1
Warbling Vireo 3
Red-eyed Vireo 3
Blue Jay 2
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 1
Tree Swallow 12
Barn Swallow 4
Black-capped Chickadee 6
Tufted Titmouse 6
House Wren 6
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1 dull female
Wood Thrush 1
American Robin X
Gray Catbird 12
Ovenbird 2
Black-and-white Warbler 6
Common Yellowthroat 5
American Redstart 1 f
Northern Parula 1
Yellow Warbler 15
Black-throated Blue Warbler 2
Chipping Sparrow 5
Song Sparrow 12
White-throated Sparrow 3
Northern Cardinal 8
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 2
Common Grackle 12
Brown-headed Cowbird 8
Baltimore Oriole 15
House Finch 3
American Goldfinch 8