Sunday, December 17, 2017

Foxes and Crowns

Saturday morning at the Park, with some nice birds. I found the Carolina Wrens that have been sounding off there for a couple of months, in the trees along the golf course.
There were at least two Golden-crowned Kinglets around. This seems to be a banner year for these little guys.
Hardest to find were the Fox Sparrows. They were in their usual location -- the far end of Woodcock Meadow (= Upper Field) -- but made themselves very diffiicult to observe!

Strangely, no Juncos and no American Tree Sparrows.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Wind and sun

Bright windy day in Nahanton Park, with Suzette. We found the first Tree Sparrows of the season and a Fox Sparrow (probably one of several) in the copse near the upper parking lot. Also Juncos, Song Sparrows, and White-throated Sparrows. From the upper garden, we saw this hawk soar by --

-- which the picture shows to be a Coopers Hawk, looking short-tailed on account of the wind. In the margin between pond and soccer field, along with some Chickadees, we found this Golden-crowned Kinglet --

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Beautiful Orange-crowned Warbler!

Cardinal Foraging
Clocks turned back and an extra hour of sleep!

Got to the park at 7:15. It was cloudy and gray and about 50 degrees.

Didn't post last week because it was so quiet, but the highlight was a black-throated green in the upper gardens which totally made my day.

Today, the usual seagulls were flying overhead. It was family time in the lower gardens. Along the scrub on the beginning of the path loop were families of house finches and gold finches enjoying tiny little orange berries. The chickadees were in on it too. At least 10 mourning doves paraded along the path. 

Some robins and blue jays, but not in the huge numbers seen previously. Song sparrows were singing and in the distance I could hear a white-throated sparrow and a carolina wren. Several juncos twittered and flew about.

I ran into Mary Lou and we were surprised at how very quiet it was. We walked to the upper gardens which was equally quiet save for a cardinal, some house sparrows and gold finches when suddenly, an orange-crowned warbler appeared in the attractive honeysuckle vine which the hummingbirds love. We got a great view and it was very distinctive with the black line through it's eye, yellow undertail and olive green/gray back. Since we had seen one on Haynes' walk early in Oct., we had to surmise that it was most likely a second one, but who knows... 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Signs of fall despite the balmy weather!

White-throated sparrow
It was a cool 48 degrees at 7:30 a.m. this morning. It was slightly overcast, but burning off.

The lower gardens were actually quite active this morning, even without the sun fully out.

Seagulls appeared overhead and blue jays squawked and flew about. Robins were in great abundance.

Last weekend, we saw one junco in Woodcock meadow, but today there were several in the lower gardens as well as white-throated sparrows - all leading to the conclusion that fall is really here, even though it feels like Indian summer.

Molting Goldfinch
Several house finches were busy nabbing berries from a crabapple tree. Song sparrows were everywhere as well as some swamp sparrows and chipping sparrows. Thanks to Haynes' great picture from yesterday, I believe I saw the field sparrow as well. A female cardinal was perched on a garden post. A couple of yellow rumps appeared and then disappeared just as quickly. Which reminds me - where are the palm warblers? Is it too late or are they still to come?

The upper garden has many of the same, but with several molting goldfinches still working on what looked like dead sunflowers - withered and drooping, but they seemed quite happy. The goldfinch in the picture at right was interested in this cosmos in the lower gardens.

Bill's Morning Glories
Bill, one of our gardeners, had this spectacular display of morning glories in his garden. I can see where this flower got it's name from. What could be more cheerful in the morning than to see this vine, covered with the most spectacular azure blue/purple flowers. It makes you smile and feel happy and appreciate the incredible beauty that nature has to offer.

Every time I go to the park, I leave feeling so lucky that we have such a special slice of nature right here in Newton. I can't wait until our Conservation Restriction materializes. We really need to protect  this park.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Is this Indian Summer?

Beautiful morning at Nahanton Park ... I found this bright Field Sparrow at the upper garden, 
and this Painted Lady in the lower garden.

Also, at the foot of the lower garden, there was this bird. Quiz time! What is it?

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Where did all the birds go?

Monarch Butterfly
7:15 a.m. 71 degrees and overcast.

It was eerily quiet at the park this morning. Was there a mass exodus last night? Didn't hear any bird sounds at all.

Eventually, some song sparrows turned up and a few blue jays. There was a group of house sparrows too. Not one goldfinch, but a couple of robins.

One thing I will say, is this has been a really decent comeback year for the monarch butterfly. I'm not sure why, but I've been seeing more than I've seen in the last several years which is quite a pleasure. They're so beautiful.

I headed to the upper gardens hoping that maybe that was the spot where the birds were congregating and found it rather quiet up there too. Several seagulls and Canada geese flew overhead. I tried to be very patient and eventually, I believe I saw the clay-colored sparrow that Haynes saw a few days ago. I'm not sure enough to say 100%, but I'm pretty confident (because Haynes had such a great picture to look at on the blog), so that would have been my first viewing on my own. There seemed to be one swamp sparrow and then several song sparrows, some of them practicing singing for next spring and they really did need some practice. They must have been young ones. I ran into Mary Lou and she hadn't seen anything unusual either.

There were several robins, a few chippers, a female cardinal, several chickadees and a colorful Eastern phoebe.

Maybe there will be a new wave of migrants next weekend!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Thursday's bird of the day

A late morning walk today brought the following cryptic lbj: 

Chipping Sparrow? No, a Clay-colored Sparrow! I had not noticed the longer tail before. 

Wednesday's surprises

The last couple of days have brought some nice surprises at Nahanton Park. Wednesday morning wasn't as birdy as the weekend walk, but at the end of the upper garden the bird below flew up to me.

What is this bird? Surely a Magnolia Warbler? But what's with the white throat and handlebar mustache? And it didn't seem to show the flashy yellow rump and tail pattern of Magnolia. So not a Magnolia. Prairie Warbler, but a hybrid with something - Tennessee perhaps? Prairie has known hybrids with Yellow and Blue-winged Warblers, but as far as I can tell not with Tennessee.

Nearby there were these three birds: pop quiz, what are they?

Sunday, October 1, 2017

A photo to add to Suzette's post

I returned to Nahanton Park later, around noon, and managed to see the White-crowned Sparrow that David had reported, and to catch a (poor) shot of the Orange-crowned Warbler. It flew out of the upper garden and into some trees near the road. 

Also this Savannah Sparrow

and a Lincoln's Sparrow in the upper garden.

Fall Bird Walk with Haynes Miller

Fall Bird Walk Group
I always like to get to the park early on the day of Hayne's Fall Bird Walk and check out the lower gardens before meeting near the Nature Center down by the river.

It was 42 degrees, chilly, but clear and sunny. A great day for birdwatching. Haynes was also checking it out. It was pretty quiet - lots of robins, some goldfinches, song sparrows, blue jays, chickadees and house finches.

We headed to the meeting area at the Nahanton St. park entrance where a group of people were waiting.

Haynes spotted what was probably a pine warbler or possibly a blackpoll high up i n a tree. We saw a black & white warbler which then got into a chasing game with the pine.

As we headed down the path to the gardens, we saw some catbirds grouped together in a shrub.

The lower gardens had chipping sparrows, song sparrows, and a quick view of a Lincoln sparrow which some, but not all of us were able to see. Another black and white warbler was seen, and some goldfinches and eastern phoebes.

The highlight of the day was in the scrub at the base of the path to the upper gardens. Some movement was spotted and we were able to discern what Haynes identified as an Orange-crowned warbler. A rare sighting and thus quite exciting, even for experienced birders.

Bald Eagle Juvenile
The upper gardens turned out to be the hotspot of the day! In addition to song and house sparrows, we saw swamp sparrows, another Lincoln (which most of us missed), a savannah sparrow, white-throated sparrows and a beautiful view of a field sparrow. An indigo bunting was seen looking very brown save for a little bit of blue on his upper wings. Haynes caught a glimpse of a blue-gray gnatcatcher. A tufted titmouse was busy foraging in one of the gardens and a house wren scolded. Chickadees were flitting about in one of the trees near the edge of the woods. We saw begging cardinal babies and the male parent and more house finches. In the woods at the back there was suddenly a flurry of activity. Haynes spotted a black-throated blue and most of us saw some yellow rump warblers, and a male Parula. Also had some sightings of a ruby-crowned kinglet. A downy woodpecker was combing one of the tree trunks.

A dark raptor appeared in the sky and it was a young bald eagle which is quite exciting since we saw an adult a few weeks back. Wouldn't it be great if some day they end up nesting at Nahanton?

If you haven't been on one of these walks, I highly recommend it. You just never know what you are going to see!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

All quiet

Most of the activity this morning was in the lower gardens. A woodchuck scurried out from a plot. There was this bright Nashville Warbler

and a number of Yellow-shafted Flickers

In the woodcock meadow, I checked off another new-for-me Dragonfly, this attractive male Calico Pennant.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Fall warblers!

Lots of birds and lots of bird-watchers this morning! 10 spp of warblers, including Black-throated Green and Chestnut-sided ... if you look carefully you can see the black throat and the chestnut side, both much reduced in this fall plumage.

Also a new Dragonfly for me, a Black Saddelbags:

Monday, September 4, 2017

Golden-winged on a golden day

I met up with Suzette and Elaine at a bit after 8:00 this morning. A beautiful day, after yesterday's rain. Lots of activity! The high point was the famale Golden-winged Warbler in  a tree in the upper garden:

The lower garden had lots of Chipping Sparrows, and this immature male Rose-breasted Grosbeak. 

 And there were a lot of dragonflies in the air. Here's a Meadowhawk
... a Common Green Darner ...
... and a Halloween Pennant

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Red foxes, blue wings

A late morning walk today brought some surprises. First, this very calm Red Fox at the pond:

In the undergrowth along Florrie's Path there was a nice mixed flock: a silent Warbling Vireo, Common Yellowthroat, Black-and-white Warbler, a Chestnut-sided Warbler, and this Blue-winged Warbler. None of them cooperated very well with my camera!

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were also present in good numbers, as well as this Swallowtail and
this Twelve-spotted Skimmer.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Summer's Bounty

Donna's Zinnias
8:00, 63 degrees, clear and sunny. A perfect summer day.

I'm sure I take pictures of Donna's zinnias every year, but who can help it? They're so spectacular and colorful.

The lower gardens were surprisingly busy. I'd been feeling like I was a little late at 8:00, but everywhere I looked there was a bird singing, calling or flying from here to there.

The gardens look like they've had a great summer. They're at the height of their growth. The vegetables are starting to bear fruit and the flowers are spectacular. One gardener has some lilies that must be close to 7 feet tall!

A vocalizing red-tailed hawk flew overhead. There were several trees/shrubs with berries that are partially responsible for all the bird activity. Saw cedar waxwings, orioles, song sparrows, titmice, chickadees, a black poll (I think), blue-gray gnatcatchers, yellow warblers (most have moved on though), a flicker, house wrens, eastern phoebe, 2 hummers, blue jays, downy woodpeckers, goldfinches, catbirds, cardinals and house finches. The upper gardens had similar fare.

Down by the soccer field, the barn swallows were performing their aerial insect catching acrobatics. I
Native Raised Bed Garden
saw a vireo but it was so quick that I couldn't be sure which one. At first, I thought it was a red-eyed and then I thought it might be a warbling, but really didn't have time to properly identify. A nuthatch was combing the bark high up in an oak tree.

In the pond was a family of ducks - 10 of them to be exact and a sandpiper.

Interns from Newton Conservators have filled a neglected raised bed from a boyscout project a few years back with perennial natives and it is looking fantastic.

Thank you Beth and interns!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Perfect Summer Day

Queen Anne's lace
7:30 a.m., 60 degrees, clear and sunny. It is the kind of summer day when you feel like you are in heaven.

As you can see, Queen Anne's lace is in full bloom. The gardens are starting to bear fruit and the tree swallows have moved on.

There are still some yellow warblers and lots of robins and their young. The house wrens are busy feeding their babies which are now begging for food. A female or young cowbird ambles across the low grass. A nuthatch yaks from away from the oriole nest tree in the lower gardens while a female downy pecks away on the dead Tree of Heaven.

The upper gardens were much the same however, there were goldfinches, cardinals, catbirds and house finches. I was surprised to see blue gray gnatcatchers high up in the oaks. Because of the time of year, I hope that means that they bred at the park this summer. That would be so nice.

I was surprised to see this beautiful deer happily standing in the sunny soccer field during the day. It's been before, but it is definitely a rare appearance. Barn swallows were dipping and diving, robins and their babes were in great abundance as well as some yellow warblers. A peewee called from the JCC woods.

Titmice were in the pine tree in the parking circle making themselves known.

Solitary Sandpiper
I was curious to see what might be in the pond today and whether there was any water left as it can be all dried up by now.

With all the rain we've had this summer, there was indeed water, but it was low. There were two sandpipers that I could see. While there, I was certain they were two solitary sandpipers, which kind of negated the idea of "solitary", but now that I see the picture I took, perhaps they were spotted sandpipers? If anyone knows, I would love to be sure.

Black Swallowtail
Though the meadow near the Winchester St. entrance is mostly filled with that annoying artemisia, it's nice to see a few wildflowers like these cone flowers which a black swallowtail found very inviting. Some black-eyed Susans are blooming as well.

I had thrown in a bunch of wildflower seeds last year, but I don't see that any of them have come to fruition.

I talked to a gardener who said the woodchucks have been getting into all the gardens and devouring seedlings and plants right and left. Not only can they dig under fences, but she felt that they can also climb over fences. That must be very frustrating. Gardening can be a tough business!

Thanks Haynes for confirming that they were indeed Solitary Sandpipers.