Sunday, August 28, 2016

Quiet, but beautiful...

Ruby-throated hummer
I got to the park around 7:00. It was 66 degrees, promising to be a beautiful morning with a few clouds in the sky. The sun was just starting to light up the gardens.

I was struck by how very quiet it was in the lower gardens save for the insects of late summer, but as I walked around, little sounds started to make themselves known and the birds started to appear. First, a female cardinal landed on a fence not far away. Then a hummingbird appeared. Song sparrows were busy foraging in the high weeds and sadly several house sparrows were in a huge flock devouring seeds on the tall stems of overgrown grass. Seagulls and then a lone mallard flew overhead.

A seemingly lone house wren scolded from the back of the gardens near where they had nested after the tree swallows. Two eastern phoebes seemed bent on chasing each other from tree to tree. A catbird called from the path. The gardens are so full of bounty. I wish I had a garden there myself.

Morning Glories
The upper gardens were bathed in sunlight - more so than the lower gardens so there was a little bit more activity. A few gardeners were already hard at work. A young robin stood out on a fence while several others flew in. Chickadees and downy woodpeckers were enamored of the sunflower seeds and couldn't get enough. One downy was busy enlarging a hole in one of the bird boxes last used by tree swallows. It was also removing some of the nesting material. Is it looking for a place to roost during winter? Song sparrows were busy exploring food sources.  A couple of tree swallows flew high overhead - dipping and diving. A bluejay called out several times. A hummingbird was feeding in the honeysuckle.

I had to check on the artichokes again. It's so fascinating to see them growing. I didn't realize last week that there are four plants, only two of which have bloomed, but they each have about three flowers on them! I will have to keep an eye on them to see how they develop into the full artichoke. Although I've failed miserably in the past in my own garden, maybe this will give me the impetus to try again.

As I headed to my car, I was so happy to hear a peewee calling from one of it's favorite areas - the woods behind the JCC.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Migration season starting...

Blue-gray gnatcatcher
I got to the park early today - 6:45 a.m. It was 62 degrees, slightly hazy, but clear and pleasant. However, the change of seasons is in the air already. Cooler evenings, shorter days and crickets etc.

The lower gardens had lots of robins. No more tree swallows or yellow warblers, at least this morning. The gardens are bursting with flowers and ripe vegetables and it was a beautiful sight.

There were hummingbirds whizzing about, goldfinches, downy woodpeckers, cardinals, catbirds, and song sparrows. Of special note, I was surprised to see a few blue-gray gnatcatchers out and about as well as a black & white warbler. Saw a few yellowthroat females as well. Ran into Mary Lou who saw a Northern parula.

The upper gardens were very much the same with the addition of chickadees and a flicker. I ran into a
father/daughter team who were out searching for the tanager that had been reported on e-bird, but they couldn't find it. In one of the gardens, I was amazed to find an artichoke growing. It was quite splendid with it's bright purple hairs sticking up and the leaves of the choke starting to form. I don't think I've ever seen one at this stage.

The soccer field had a swallow that was dipping and diving so quickly, I wasn't sure if it was a tree or barn swallow. There were more common yellowthroats and robins, but otherwise fairly quiet. The pond is now dried up, with bright green grass coming up through the mud. I was hoping to see a sandpiper or two, but it wasn't to be.

The river was very quiet and as I headed up to Woodcock meadow, I was greeted by a very thin doe and her fawn. They weren't sure what to make of me. Mom was cautious, but baby got scared and ran in the other direction flashing her white tail as she fled.