Sunday, June 26, 2016

Family Day & Eastern Kingbird!

Mourning Dove and two babies
It was 66 degrees at 7:30 a.m. A few wispy clouds and the moon still out, but a nice sunny, summer day.

It was definitely bird family day at the park. A few birds are still in the nest, but mostly the young are out with their parents, learning the ropes.

Yellow Warbler baby
In the lower gardens, there were still a few tree swallows, but their numbers are vastly reduced. As I may have mentioned in a previous post, the house wrens have taken over most of the boxes and are feeding their nestlings, scolding mightily if you get too close to the box. There were plenty of robins to go around and song sparrows. Catbirds are in pretty good numbers too. An oriole family was in evidence - the young ones just gaining color. I saw a young peewee looking like it only left the nest recently, but it was singing it's song already! 

Day Lily
In the upper gardens, I came across a mourning dove. I know their nests are casually placed, but this one seemed to take the cake (pictured above, left). At first, I thought the dove was just resting on the ground. It wasn't until I took the picture, that I realized it's nest was on a compost heap and it was surrounded by two adoring and camouflaged young. 

The yellow warbler baby (pictured above, right), was perched in someone's garden looking very much in transition. A very bad feather day from the looks of it and quite comical, but soon it will be beautiful. Talk about "look what the cat dragged in"...

Song Sparrow with Caterpillar
The bright orange day lilies were in bloom - right on schedule (at least this is when they bloom in my garden). Also foraging around in the gardens were cardinals, house wrens, goldfinches and song sparrows. Unfortunately, several house sparrows are now in evidence at our park. Several in the upper gardens and a few in the lower gardens. It looks like they have taken up residence here over the last few years. What a shame.

Eastern Kingbird
As I headed towards the soccer field and river, I was surprised to see an Eastern Kingbird (pictured at left) hanging out on a rock near the parking lot.

The pond is still in the process of drying up, but the red-winged blackbirds seem to be having a blast in there. In addition to checking things out at ground level, they were also dive bombing insects from above. It was entertaining to watch. It's funny how fast the time goes by. Seems like the birds were just arriving and now their young are leaving the nests and growing up.

We're headed for the dog days of July soon. It's been so pleasant with the cool sleeping nights and comfortable days. Please don't let the summer go too quickly.  I want to savor it and enjoy it but life these days seems to be going at a whirlwind pace. That's one of the things I love about Nahanton. It forces me to slow down and enjoy the moment and put aside all the requirements of our society for an hour or two.

Thank you Nahanton!!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Close Encounters of the Reptile/Insect Kind

8:00 a.m. Sunny and clear. A beautiful day at 63 degrees.

I'm happy to report that I saw several milkweed plants in the lower gardens and that will be a good thing for the Monarch butterflies.

The lower gardens had our usual tree swallows which are still there but many seem done breeding. The house wrens have moved in and are tending their broods. It was fairly quiet. Mostly catbirds, robins, song sparrows and yellow warblers today.

Red-eared Slider
The same was true of the upper gardens. A gardener has hung some suet and bird food and our dreaded house sparrows are happily partaking. In addition to the species seen in the lower gardens, I can add goldfinches, a pee wee calling from the woods at the back, chickadees, a flicker and titmice. A yellow warbler couple was dutifully feeding it's young which were out of the nest at this point. Paul contacted me yesterday. He had seen a blue-headed vireo, but I was unable to locate it.

Their are several wildflowers blooming now in the meadow as well as two different beautiful native roses - a dark pink variety in the lower gardens and a mid-tone clear pink in the upper gardens. The sumac is starting to flower and Queen Anne's lace is developing buds.

A female mallard stood by the side of the pond (which is almost dried up) while several red-winged blackbird couples foraged in the mud and grasses. I went to the river to check out the rare daisy-leafed moonwort ferns. They were still there, but on the wane. A warbling vireo was singing.

On the way back, I saw a dark mass in the soccer field grass. I was dreading the discovery. I was certain it was a dead bird or animal and I wasn't looking forward to seeing it. However, as I got closer, it was a turtle!!!! A red-eared slider to be exact (you can see a tiny bit of red to the side of his eye. I have just read that although it is native to the southeastern U.S., it has become an invasive up North, outcompeting our native turtles. Hmmmmm....

Garter Snake
Immediately after viewing the turtle, I saw a garter snake, who didn't seem to be the least bit bothered by me. He let me take his picture without any trouble!

It had seemed such a quiet morning. I love the way Nahanton Park is full of surprises. You just never know what you might see.

And by the way, the dreaded invasive swallow-wort is starting to bloom. If you have the energy, bring some snips with you - snip off the flowers and put all in a black plastic trash bag. DO NOT put it in with yard waste. We don't want to spread any more of it around. It's really taking over our park.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Beautiful morning!

House Wren
It was 70 degrees and sunny with a semi-cloudy day. It sure felt warmer than yesterday and that was nice for all of us, birds included.

I was greeted immediately by house wrens and tree swallows. The witchety witchety of the common yellowthroat rang out and I was bound and determined to find him - especially since I spent a week on Hog Island in Maine, only to hear him and never see him. I finally found him in an unusual spot, high up in a tree top. I'll apologize for the picture in advance, but he was quite far away!
Common Yellowthroat

Lots of yellow warblers. We saw one yesterday at the June Doin' event on the Pete Gilmore bird walk. We found a nest and watched as mom flew in to sit on it. That had the people on the walk quite excited. A couple of mourning doves paraded around the path. A baltimore oriole female dropped down into a garden and flew away, presumably with some bugs for her brood. Not sure where her nest is this year as they're not in the same spot they were last year. I think it might be in the oak trees at the back edge of the lower gardens. Of course there were catbirds and robins, a couple of grackles and song sparrows.

Yellow Warbler
A red-winged black bird couple seemed to be enjoying some seeds in the meadow. American crows called from the woods near the JCC. I wasn't sure if some mobbing action might be happening there as it sounded quite persistent. I was quite surprised to see what I believe was a male purple finch. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to see the female which would have helped confirm my id. Having seen purple finch couples every day for 5 days in Maine, I'm fairly certain, but not 100% sure. In addition to birds mentioned in the lower gardens were a pair of cowbirds and goldfinches. The robin pictured at left must have been building a new nest as it sat and posed with mud and nesting material in it's beak. It waited patiently for me to leave so I wouldn't know the location (unless these were bugs, but I don't think so).

The soccer field/pond area was fairly quiet. A red-winged blackbird male was feeding it's baby that
Robin with nesting material
was begging on a branch high up in an oak tree. The water in the pond is low and grasses are emerging. A bull frog sang like a low plucked string on a fellow and a warbling vireo sang out.

The river was quiet save for an oriole calling and a blue jay calling from the JCC woods.

We heard from Larry (Charles River Canoe and Kayak) yesterday at the June Doin' event that eagles have been seen nesting near the river in Waltham. That would be a fun canoe trip.

On my way back to the car, a great blue heron flew overhead. What a beautiful sight.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016