Sunday, May 25, 2014

Phoebe finally on nest!

Red-eyed Vireo
It was 55 degrees and overcast as I arrived at the park around 7:30 a.m.

For some reason, I started in the upper gardens where I saw a pair of house wrens. I know they're nesting in a certain box and soon we should be hearing the little calls for food from the babies.

There was a continual flute concert by a wood thrush in the woods nearby. Yellow warblers were singing and catbirds were flitting about. A pair of redstarts were chasing each other and there were three red-eyed vireos which captivated me as they were low and very visible. The overcast day made the lighting poor, so this was the best I could do as far as a photo.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak

There are three nests near the soccer field that I've been watching: two oriole nests and a yellow warbler nest. When the yellow warbler first built its nest it seemed like a very poor location as it was so obvious, but I was wrong. As the foliage has filled out it is completely hidden and even though I know where it is, I have the most difficult time locating it now. Saw more redstarts and heard a peewee calling.

Down by the river I was so pleased to see the phoebe finally in it's nest! I heard a warbling vireo and
saw a few Eastern kingbirds.

In Woodcock meadow was a beautiful grosbeak, nice and low and obvious - however the lighting doesn't do it justice.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

She’s on Fire: Mary Lou Finds a Prothonotary Warbler!

Prothonotary Warbler
 After a weekend away from email, I was stunned to see that Mary Lou reported a Prothonotary Warbler Sunday morning at Nahanton Park. This is the second time this spring that Mary Lou has found a new bird for Nahanton Park, previously it was the Yellow-throated Warbler. The Prothonotary Warbler typically inhabits more southern swamp lands, so to have one visit us wonderful.

Monday morning, I decided to try for the Prothonotary as it would be a life bird. When I arrived, I tallied birds as I walked from the Winchester St. entrance towards the river. But the Yellow Warblers, CommonYellowthroats, and American Redstarts couldn’t keep me long. I was on a mission.

Prothonotary Warbler
When I arrived the river, the first people I ran into were Haynes and Pete, fresh from their own sightings of the Prothonotary. Buoyed by the good news, I set off down Florrie’s Path straining my ears to try and catch the loud ringing “sweet sweet sweet” song repeated on one pitch. Another birder, and walked the path looking for motion and listening intently. I started to hear a two-parted song, with the first few notes at a lower pitch, before rising into a decisive “sweet sweet”.  It almost ended like a Prothonotary, but not having heard one sing before, I couldn’t be sure. But as it was the only song we couldn’t recognize we started scanning the far bank for this bright yellow bird.

Prothonotary Warbler
A long story short, a number of us birders banded together to examine the trail on the other side of the river where we were finally able to see that the singer was indeed a Prothonotary! After it returned to the Nahanton side of the river, I headed back over and was eventually rewarded with some better views, though a decent photograph was elusive. In all the excitement, a Canada Warbler was summarily dismissed after a few seconds by the birders present. The Prothonotary was singing so energetically he must have been trying to attract a female, but he is the only Prothonotary Warbler sighted for more than a hundred miles.

So while its fantastic for us that we get to experience him, I do wonder what happens to these wayward migrants. Do they eventually realize they aren’t in the right place and then fly back south? Is he going to hang out up north going bust on this year’s breeding season and hit the reset button when he migrates south for winter? Or is there another possibility that I haven’t thought of? If only his “sweet sweet sweet” song could tell us.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Apple blossoms fading...

Northern Parula
I was hoping it would be a nice day when I saw a deer meandering through the woods as I drove down to the parking lot. That always puts me in a good mood. They're such beautiful creatures.

It was 53 degrees and sunny at 7:00 a.m.

Sadly, the apple blossoms that the warbler wave was feasting on was on the wane, but still one parula was not to be put off. In the lower gardens were catbirds, yellow warblers, tree swallows, orioles, cowbirds and goldfinches. I could hear a red-bellied woodpecker calling from some nearby trees. Also heard
Scarlet Tanager
a red-eyed vireo's song, but couldn't locate it. Mourning doves, robins and a cardinal were there and surprisingly, I saw 3 rough-winged swallows in a puddle on the path!

I ran into Mary Lou and then Paul and later Barbara! In the upper gardens were house wrens, blue jays, songs sparrows and yellow warblers, nothing too earth shattering.

Down by the soccer field was a warbling vireo and more yellow warblers. Saw one oriole tending to it's nest. Saw one male wood duck in the pond. At the river, we saw a rose-breasted grosbeak. The meadow was quiet save for some grackles.

Peewee Singing
We walked through the woods by the JCC where towards the end of the path, we saw a Peewee, Scarlet tanager and heard the incessant calling of an ovenbird which for the life of us we couldn't locate. Also heard a great-crested flycatcher which was nice.

And a little stand of lady slippers was in bloom. They are so very spectacular!

As I returned to my car, there was a note from Mary Lou. She had seen a prothonotary warbler across the river!!!!!!! Too bad I missed it.

We are so lucky to have this park...

Monday, May 12, 2014

Worm-eating Warbler and 16 Other Warblers!

 After yesterday’s great report by Haynes of the Mother’s Day bird walk at Nahanton, I needed to swing by this morning before work. With an early start of 5:45am bird life was fantastic. I’m short on time so the highlights will follow and the full list is below. The lower garden had a Canada Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, and a Chestnut-sided Warbler. The upper garden then added a Worm-eating Warbler in the woods by the beehives, fortunately he was singing his insect like trill, or I wouldn’t have found him so high up in the oak. He is also a first eBird record for Nahanton. Down by the pond were Wilson’s Wabler, Northern Waterthrush, White-crowned Sparrow, and a thrush that I think is a Veery, any
Worm-eating Warbler
thoughts (picture below). Then the driveway by Nahanton St. added to the list above with a Prairie Warbler and Lincoln’s Sparrow. In the end I tallied 17 species of Warblers, by far my best ever. Not to mention Blackburnian and Worm-eating Warblers as lifers for me. The pictures weren’t as great as I would have liked, but I was at least able to document most of the birds to share here (click to enlarge).

Mallard  2     Pond
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  1
Mourning Dove  3
Red-bellied Woodpecker  3
Eastern Phoebe  1
Great Crested Flycatcher  1
Worm-eating Warbler

Blue-headed Vireo  1     In woods
Warbling Vireo  3
Red-eyed Vireo  1
Blue Jay  2
Tree Swallow  5
Barn Swallow  2
Tufted Titmouse  1
House Wren  2
Catharus sp.  1
Wood Thrush  1
American Robin  20
Gray Catbird  15
Brown Thrasher  1     Lower garden

Ovenbird  4
Worm-eating Warbler  1     Drab bird with buff breast and head with dark
Blackburnian Warbler
brown eye lines and central crown line. Singing rapid insect like trill.      Back of upper garden in oak behind beehives. Singing. Pictures, audio, video.

Northern Waterthrush  1     Singing by pond and seen by nature center. Audio recording
Black-and-white Warbler  3
Common Yellowthroat  4
American Redstart  2
Northern Parula  4
Magnolia Warbler  2
Blackburnian Warbler  1     Male! Singing in top of oaks, lower garden. Initial id by song with very high ending. Pics

Yellow Warbler  9
Chestnut-sided Warbler  1     Maybe 2? Seen in upper and lower gardens.
Canada Warbler
Singing. Initially I'd by song

Blackpoll Warbler  2     Auditory only
Black-throated Blue Warbler  3
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  8
Prairie Warbler  1     By nahanton st / nature center
Canada Warbler  1     Possible 2. Lower and upper gardens. Initial id from song. Pics
Wilson's Warbler  2     At least. Pond and nahanton at entrance. Singing. Pics
Savannah Sparrow  1     Nahanton st entrance
Song Sparrow  6

Lincoln's Sparrow  1     By nahanton st entrance. Pics
White-throated Sparrow  3
Lincoln's Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow (Eastern)  1     On trail between pond and soccer fields. Dark lores
Scarlet Tanager  1     Auditory only. Burry song. No call note, would have liked a visual. But my first for MA
Northern Cardinal  4     Pair on nest
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  4     Singing. Video, pictures
Red-winged Blackbird  3
Common Grackle (Bronzed)  5
Brown-headed Cowbird  3
Baltimore Oriole  8
American Goldfinch  6


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mothers' Day!

Common Yellowthroat
Best weather and best birding ever for the annual Newton Conservators/Friends of Nahanton Park Mothers' Day bird walk! 53 species including 14 warblers, and an enthusiastic and very observant group of 18 participants.

Here's a list ...  sorry about the latin.

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  4
Green Heron (Butorides virescens)  1     Flyby at river, 8:00
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) 2 Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) 6 Nest at eye level in juniper in Woodcock Field Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) 1 Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) 1 Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus) 1 Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) 2 Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) (Colaptes auratus auratus/luteus) 3 Willow Flycatcher (Eastern) (Empidonax traillii traillii) 1 Visual, and call. At pond. Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) 1 Great Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus) 2 Blue-headed Vireo (Vireo solitarius) 1 Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus) 2 Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus) 1 Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) 1
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) 12 Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) 4 Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) 5 Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) 2 House Wren (Troglodytes aedon) 5 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea) 1 Veery (Catharus fuscescens) 3 Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) 1 American Robin (Turdus migratorius) 20 Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) 10 Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) 1
Magnolia Warbler
Northern Waterthrush (Parkesia noveboracensis) 2 Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia) 4 Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) 6 American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla) 3 Northern Parula (Setophaga americana) 3 Magnolia Warbler (Setophaga magnolia) 3 Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia) 12 Chestnut-sided Warbler (Setophaga pensylvanica) 1 Black-throated Blue Warbler (Setophaga caerulescens) 1 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) (Setophaga coronata coronata) 2 Black-throated Green Warbler (Setophaga virens) 1 Canada Warbler (Cardellina canadensis) 1 Wilson's Warbler (Cardellina pusilla) 1
Wilsons Warbler
Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) 2 Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) 1 Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) 6 White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) 4 Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea) 1 Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) 8
Scarlet Tanager
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) 6 Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) 10 Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) 6 Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) 12 Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) 15 House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) 1 American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) 5
Mother's Day Birding Group

We hope you'll join us for more walks in the fall! We will be posting the dates on the Nahanton Park website soon.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Black & Whites arrived and more Parulas seen

Black & White
Today was our invasive pull so I wanted to get to the park early for a quick birding session.  I arrived around 6:30 a.m. It was a pleasant 51 degrees, clear and sunny.

I headed down to the soccer field area and found this black & white immediately (sorry for the poor quality of the photo). Later, Haynes and Jonathan saw several of them. We ran into Ryan who showed us some Parulas high up in the tree tops, buzz buzzing away. He had seen a Veery and heard the wood thrush singing while on the path by the JCC. Also saw several brightly colored yellow-rumped warblers and caught a glimpse of the Great Crested flycatcher that Ian had seen on Friday. The orioles and yellow warblers are very vocal - singing up a storm.

Hmmm.... what shall I have for breakfast?
I cut through the woods to the upper gardens and as I headed toward the back of the gardens, I saw something huge, sitting on a post. It was an enormous red tailed hawk! It ended up moving to several different locations but it didn't seem terribly fearful of me, so I was able to take lots of pictures. What a magnificent creature.

Then it was on to the invasive pull where Duane Hillis with his super human strength and special root removal tools, dug out more buckthorn in his quest for 100% removal of this pesty bush. Thanks Duane! Katherine, Jackie and I tackled a different type of formidable foe - the garlic mustard. We cleared out one whole section in between the upper and lower gardens which was most satisfying. Then we began a short stint in the overgrown path that goes to the brick house in the lower gardens. That will be an ongoing project for sure.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Warblers blowing in!!!!

Yellow Warbler
Got to the park around 6:45 a.m. It was 46 degrees and sunny. A beautiful morning to be out. Ian had reported a Great Crested Flycatcher yesterday and I was hoping to see it for myself!

I was immediately greeted by lots of bird song - especially yellow warblers singing from all over the park! The lower gardens were very busy. Apparently the catbirds had blown in as well and were busy singing their multi-note songs as well as meowing here and there. Tree swallows busy with their nest boxes - almost got dive bombed by one. Baltimore orioles have appeared looking absolutely brilliant. House wrens, goldfinches, jays and song sparrows also busy and titmice called from the woods.

Robin in nest
In the upper gardens were more of the same including cardinals. Saw two or three beautiful Savannah sparrows with bright yellow around their eyes. A single male yellow rumped warbler appeared briefly. A robin was already nesting and very nervous that I was trying to take her picture.

Baltimore Oriole Male
The soccer field was quite busy as well with a male and female Baltimore oriole couple quite intent on devouring whatever they could on an old, scruffy crabapple. At one point, a yellow warbler joined them, but they were oblivious.

Baltimore Oriole Female
I heard a very buzzy call and at first I was a little confused, but then I realized it was some kind of a warbler. It always takes me a while so I thought black & white or parula. I finally found the Northern parula high in a birch tree near the pond, flitting from one catkin to another. It was there for quite some time. It's always fun to see them with their bright yellow throat and blue back.

Aside from some daffodils and bulbs, the wild violets are blooming with their delicate lavender purple flowers as well as the bloodroot down near the pond. Spring is really here - dare I say?