Sunday, August 31, 2014

Last day of August

Coopers Hawk
At 7:15 a.m., it was 70 degrees and overcast.

Let me begin by mentioning that I received an email from Ian who saw a Philadelphia vireo yesterday in the tallest oak between the soccer field and the pond. He also saw a first year Magnolia!

There was definitely an end of summer feel in the air as I headed to the lower gardens. It was pretty quiet. The flowers are beautiful with colorful zinnias, towering sunflowers, lilies, dahlias, goldenrod, morning glories and rudbeckia. There were a few catbirds and their young and some goldfinches. A group of six cormorants flew overhead. I saw a large bird in the area between the field and the gardens. There's always the question of a sharpie or a coopers, but I believe this was a Cooper's. If I'm wrong, please let me know. It seemed bigger than a sharpie, but I know they can be deceiving.

Mexican Sunflower
I ran into Mary Lou in the upper gardens. She had seen a young male common yellowthroat in the
lower gardens. There was a mockingbird, some song sparrows, several goldfinches, a jay, a hummingbird, chickadees and a couple of Eastern phoebes.

The pond was dried up with a few song sparrows foraging in the mud. As we stood at the dock by the river, the great blue heron flew by. I had to leave and hopefully Mary Lou will fill me in on any additional sightings she may have seen...

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Late Summer Sunday...

Young Common Yellowthroat Male
It was 60 degrees at 7:15 a.m. Clear and sunny. A beautiful day to go bird watching.

As soon as I get out of the car, I can hear a peewee calling from the woods behind the upper gardens as I did a few weeks ago.

The lower gardens were filled with robins. It seems like they're starting to group together. The late summer flowers look beautiful - towering yellow and mahogany sunflowers, pink, purple and orange zinnias, lilies and morning glories are all very festive. Saw a few blue jays, catbirds, goldfinches and a hummer feasting on garden goodies, starlings which seem to appear at this time of year, a young male cardinal that was not quite in full color yet and a baby song sparrow that hadn't really grown it's tail feathers, making it look a little silly. A house wren appeared, tsk, tsking and a few warbling vireos.

The upper gardens had pretty much the same but in addition, there were a few red-eyed vireos and this young male common yellowthroat (pictured above). I would have thought it a female, since I'm not very good at the fall plumage, but he opened his mouth and started singing and it was clear it was a male and he was young, because he certainly needed a lot of practice with his song, but you could hear the basic witchety, witchety somewhere in there! There was a hummer up here too and a mockingbird. Most of the birds were feasting on grapes and berries in the back of the gardens. A chimney swift flew overhead. I saw a young red-bellied woodpecker on a tree branch. I say it was young because it didn't have the red head we normally see on the adults.

The pond was dried up, but still filled with water lilies stuck to the mud and pickerel weed poking up and in bloom. No sign of any sandpipers. Saw another red-eyed vireo near the soccer field, some chickadees and a nuthatch. Otherwise, it was pretty quiet.

The river was very quiet save a kayaker and a few chickadees.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sue Avery Walk

Blue Dasher, ID by H. Miller
Sue Avery, who was very active in our Newton Conservators group, blew into town this week from Long Island where she and her family moved 5 years ago. Luckily, our schedules worked out and we were able to tour Nahanton Park before she left.

It's always fun to walk with her because she has such a vast knowledge of the plant life, in addition to birds and insects. Like Haynes, she is fascinated by dragonflies and damsel flies. We're not sure which kind this is, but hopefully Haynes will give us an i.d.

I was so hoping we might hear the bobwhite that Haynes heard a few days ago, as we walked around the gardens, but sadly, we didn't. On Long Island, there are programs to reintroduce bobwhite and quail to certain wildlife areas. I wish we had something like that going on here. We saw our regulars: goldfinches, robins, song sparrows, mockingbirds, blue jays and cardinals.

Green Heron
When we cut through the woods to the soccer field, we hit a little hot spot and were most excited to see a few blue gray gnatcatchers, an oriole couple, a warbling vireo,some titmice and a glimpse of some kind of warbler that had black, white and bright yellow, but it was so brief that I wouldn't dare identify  it. Sue saw a large clump of feathers in a tree. It looked rather odd, but turned out to be a baby flicker.

The pond was disappointing - no herons and no sandpipers or ducks. The pickerel weed is in bloom, but Sue was distressed to see we have some lythrum starting to take in the pond which is highly invasive. If anyone wants to or dares to tromp through the mud in their waders and pull it up, it would be appreciated!! She said now is the time to catch it before the pond is overwhelmed.

We continued on by the river path and shortly before we turned off to head to the upper gardens, we were delighted to spot one of the green herons preening on a log.

All in all, it was a beautiful, sunny day and every time I visit Nahanton,  I am so grateful that we have this park. It's such a wonderful antidote to life's pressures and a great opportunity to enjoy nature with good friends.

Sue is an ecologically oriented landscape designer.

Check out Sue's website and blog.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


On Friday morning, in the front of the upper garden, I heard "Bob White ... Bob White." Nothing more, and I didn't see the speaker. Mary Lou was not far away and didn't hear this .... Still, what else could it be. I spent some time there again this morning, with no luck.  Lots of hummingbirds, and the pond was active.

New odonts, both from the upper field:
Black-shouldered Spinyleg


Bird list:

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  1
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  3     river
Green Heron (Butorides virescens)  3     pond
Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria)  5     pond
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)  1
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  2
Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica)  5
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)  5 upper garden
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)  1
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  3
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  3
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) (Colaptes auratus auratus/luteus)  1
Eastern Wood-Pewee (Contopus virens)  3
Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe)  1
Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus)  1
Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus)  1
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)  5
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  1
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  4
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  4
House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)  6
Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus)  1 path betw pond and soccer field
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  45
Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)  10
Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)  7
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  10
Northern Waterthrush (Parkesia noveboracensis)  1     pond
Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)  2
Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)  2
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  5
Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea)  1     brief song
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)  4
Orchard Oriole (Icterus spurius)  2     females. belly entirely yellow. Path betw pond and soccer field
Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)  2
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  10
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  10

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Oh deer...

It was 63 degrees and overcast as I headed down Winchester Street to the Park. I hadn't gone far, when I saw a beautiful doe on someone's front lawn. I had to stop and take her picture. I've been seeing a lot of deer lately - maybe because the fawns are older now?

As I headed into the lower gardens I was greeted by several chickadees in an oak tree overhanging the path. I could hear some yellow warblers singing and I could hear a pee wee singing from way up in the woods behind the upper gardens! The gardens are in high gear and the flowers are beautiful. Huge, towering sunflowers and fragrant lilies, morning glories in blue and carmine, zinnias blasting bright pink, red and orange - a visual delight. There were robins and house wrens and a hummingbird buzzing around. The weeds made me think of the show "Oklahoma" because
Catbird with Dragonfly Treat
the weeds were definitely as high as an elephants eye! The catbird pictured at left was very excited to find a prize dragonfly to eat and had to pose and show it off. Goldfinches and a female common yellowthroat were very interested in the goodies in the garden closest to the path to the upper gardens.

The only time I see snakes is when they've been run over which is rather sad. There was a beautiful garter snake on the path, but it was flattened. The meadow is blooming and the purple liatris has now joined the white daisies, yellow St. Johns Wort, Queen Anne's lace and yellow coneflowers but there is far too much of the weedy artemesia. I miss the pink cosmos that was planted by the City after that awful snow dumping.

Queen Anne's Lace
House Wren Family
In the upper gardens were cardinals, song sparrows, an oriole and a wren
couple feeding their very noisy babies. They must be very close to leaving the nest box. The parents took turns finding bugs and feeding the hungry brood. Around the other side of the gardens, a blue-gray gnatcatcher was busy flitting here and there.

As I headed toward the path to go through the woods to the soccer field, a light rain started so I decided to head to the car instead and put my camera away. I was looking forward to checking out the herons that Hayne's has been seeing down by the river. The rain lasted longer than I thought, so I drove around to the other entrance hoping the rain would stop by
then. It didn't, but I found if I stayed under the trees, the rain was so light, I could stay dry. I didn't see any herons near the river, so I headed to the pond. Just I walked down the little path, the big blue heron must have been nearby and it flew off across the pond. They are amazingly large birds. And as I looked closer, I was pleased to see one of the green herons sitting on a log and unphased by my presence. And of course there was a sandpiper (spotted) mucking about in the mud!

Check out the website as some of the fall walks have been added and more to come!