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...

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Quiet Morning...

Common Yellowthroat Female
It was about 62 degrees and a little cloudy, but a nice morning for a walk.

I heard a peewee calling from the JCC woods the whole time I was in the lower gardens. An Eastern Kingbird was doing it's flycatcher thing when it wasn't perched atop a tall tree near the parking lot.

The flowers and fruit in the lower gardens are mature and colorful. Saw several goldfinches, song sparrows and catbirds. There were a couple of blue gray gnatcatchers in the crabapple tree in the center flitting here and there. A grackle and then seagull flew overhead and blue jays were screeching back and forth to each other. Was surprised I only saw a few robins, but then I got a great view of this common yellowthroat female. Thought the house wrens must be gone, but finally heard a scolding sound and there was a family of them in some scrub near the golf course. Chimney swifts were circling overhead and I saw some swallows, but they were too high up and couldn't identify them.

In the upper gardens, the Concord grapes have ripened to a nice purply blue. Saw catbirds, song sparrows, goldfinches and a cardinal. The bees seemed to be in good shape in all their various hives. No sign of any warblers yet.

Down by the soccer field I saw a mother female common yellowthroat, a band of chickadees, a downy woodpecker, a female hummingbird and a brief glimpse of what I thought was the young grosbeak. Our blue heron was wading in the pond hunting. Maybe that's why it comes later in the season. It knows the water level is down.

It is very Indian summerish with the cool nights and warm days. Looking forward to the warblers coming down to visit!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Another Baby Boom!

Baby Barn Swallow preening
62 degrees at 6:45 a.m. A few clouds, but a really nice morning!

As soon as I arrived I heard a yellow warbler singing and pee sees calling from the woods.

There were young ones everywhere!!!!!! Tons of robin juveniles everywhere! Two or three baby barn swallows were perched in the lower gardens. This particular one (to left) was preening when all of a sudden, mom or dad came by. It opened it's beak and the parent actually fed it on the fly! Dropped something in and kept on going! Never saw that before…

Fluffy catbird babies were huddled in trees figuring out their next move… Goldfinches were flitting
Giant Sunflower
about. A common yellowthroat female popped out from a low bush with a "tick, tick, tick". The gardens are a riot of color with ripening veggies, huge sunflowers, lilies, dahlias, morning glory and all kinds of beautiful flora. Bunnies bounded away, their white tails flashing behind them. House wrens were singing and the babies could be heard from the box near the parking lot. A young flicker landed on a garden fence. Song sparrows were very busy on the ground looking for food.

A baby rose breasted grosbeak male flashed his bright red chest in the sunlight from a tree branch above me. No sign of a parent. Baby chickadees were out and about, so young that their colors
Rose-breasted Grosbeak baby
were not all crisped up yet. In fact all the young looked a little rough around the edges!

Then I saw a mystery bird (to right). I thought it must be some kind of a flycatcher. It was sort of olive gray on the outside, but quite yellow on its belly. It's long tail had a slightly brownish red cast to it. Not quite as big as a robin, but not small like a warbler either. Is it possible that it's a young great crested flycatcher? At one point another one came along and I couldn't tell if it was another young one or a parent. However, there was no sign of a crest, which is why I'm a little confused.
Young Flycatcher?

If anyone can ID, please let me know!

The upper gardens had a downy woodpecker and was equally as colorful as the lower. Lots of goodies hanging out in a tree, song sparrows flying here and there and a house wren feeding noisy babies in a birch bark bird house in someone's garden. Pee wees seemed to be calling from all sides in the woods. A mocking bird appeared. Haven't seen a lot of them this summer. Two oriole young were chasing each other and making a racket. I thought I saw a kinglet, but couldn't be sure. Definitely saw a baby yellow- throat though. Think I saw a baby red-eyed vireo and what I thought might be a blue gray gnatcatcher actually turned out to be a young male parula! I was so excited. I wonder if they bred at the park this summer… That would be so cool!

Blue Heron
Down near the soccer field, I heard the red-bellied woodpecker and saw some strange looking young in the trees. I really couldn't identify them. They looked gray with white chests and bellies, but there was so much going on and so many birds around like nuthatches and chickadees, I just couldn't figure it out. I also saw a different grayish baby that fanned it's tail in such a way that I thought it might be a very young redstart which would be very exciting.

I was so excited to see that our friend is back! The great blue that arrives in late July - early August. It was in the pond looking for something good to eat.