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.