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.