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.


  1. What a fantastic morning!!!!!!!! That would be funny if it was the same chat and also great if there were two chats!!

    1. It was such an enjoyable morning, Nahanton really is a wonderful place to explore. And you are right, two chats would be very cool as well.

  2. We've never had a pic of the clay colored sparrow before or a Philadelphia Vireo on our blog. This is great!

    1. Those two and the Lincoln's were life birds while the chat is a county bird, and I managed a picture of each. I think luck was on my side. The vireo was off the next second so I was lucky the camera was already at a good enough setting.