Sunday, March 13, 2016

Signs of Spring!! Fox Sparrows and Tree Swallow

Song Sparrow
Daylights Savings Time in effect today, so arrived at the park at a seemingly late 8:00 a.m. It was a little cloudy, but the sun was trying to come out and a very tolerable 51 degrees.

Song sparrows could be heard as I headed down the path to the lower gardens. I was greeted by this song sparrow (to left) singing it's heart out. As I stood by watching, I saw a white-throated sparrow on the ground under the large crabapple tree in the center but also noticed a reddish looking bird. It was busy hopping back and forth in the leaf litter. As I got a closer look, I was delighted to see it was a fox sparrow.

Tree Swallow
There were several crows flying about and a seagull passed by. Chickadees appeared looking very dapper. There were a few juncos, and I wasn't quite sure if I saw a few chipping sparrows. I could hear a red-bellied woodpecker calling from the woods. High up in the sky, there appeared to be a swallow. YES, it was
my first tree swallow of the year and it seemed to be the first and only to arrive so far.

The upper gardens had pretty much the same group of birds, but it seemed the tree swallow had finally alighted near a bird house it had it's eye on. Bet it can't wait until all its fellow swallows arrive and it can find a mate.

Fox Sparrow
The soccer field was filled with at least 19 robins. Heard my first red-winged blackbird of the season calling and saw 2 male cowbirds high up in a tree. Another red-bellied woodpecker was purring, some jays were squawking and I caught a quick glimpse of a beautiful pair of wood ducks. Too bad they're always hanging out at the far side of the pond. It's almost impossible to get a good picture. A mallard couple flew in to enjoy the pond as well.

I heard a pretty song and saw a flash of reddish brown. I finally discovered another fox sparrow right above me perched on a branch resting and enjoying the sun. All told, I think there were  between 2-4 fox sparrows in this area and maybe two in the lower gardens.

As I approached the river, there was a noisy thrum of bird song. It turned out to be a huge cloud of grackles that finally settled on several trees across the river.

If you haven't been to Woodcock meadow recently, you really must come. The woodcocks have been out displaying at dusk for at least a few weeks. The Newton Conservators and Friends of Nahanton Park's joint effort to restore the meadow is going great! The City has removed several of the largest invasive white pines (one of the many Audubon recommendations). Thank yous to Marc and his staff. A small group has removed some of the large cedars and smaller white pines and it seems as if the woodcocks are loving it there. They have so much more room to take off and land.