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. Perhaps a hybrid - but Magnolia and what? Answer (thanks to Lisa Standley): not Magnolia, but rather a very white-chinned Prairie Warbler.

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.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Turtles, Turtles...

Painted Turtle
It was going to be a hot day today, so tried to get to the park at a decent hour. 7:45 a.m and it was already 71 degrees and sunny.

The gardens have been fairly quiet. I'm happy to see that we have several milkweed plants coming up and hopefully that will help the monarch butterflies.

I heard a few yellow warblers, and saw robins, song sparrows, orioles, blue jays, catbirds and house wrens - nothing terribly unusual. The multi-flora invasive roses are in bloom. They actually have a wonderful fragrance and the bees were loving it.

There was a warbling vireo down near the soccer field and a female mallard in the pond. A mourning dove flew by.

Turtles on a log in the river
My big excitement was finding the moonwort that Don L. showed us on a walk a few years ago for the June Doin' event. I've been looking for it the last few weeks and it finally appeared. It's not up for long!

Red-winged blackbird
Down by the river were two turtles on a log and then surprisingly in Woodcock meadow was the painted turtle pictured above, left just sitting in the dry grass. I was a little worried about it's location and if it was alright, but I'm hoping it knows what it's doing and I left it alone.

A young red-winged blackbird sang from a tree in the meadow. The meadow is looking really good with all the work that's been done, but there is lots more to do. We appreciate all that Katherine Howard and the Newton Conservators and Friends of Nahanton Park volunteers have done!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Settling in...

Donna's poppies
7:00 a.m. - 40 degrees, clear and sunny.

I arrived at the park and a few minutes later Ian came, so we walked around together.

It was pretty quiet considering it was such a beautiful day. The yellow warblers must be in nesting mode. Yes, there was some singing, but not nearly as much. The robin babies have fledged and there were several robin families out and about. It seems that some tree swallows have left their nest boxes and others are still caring for their young.

There was a pair of house wrens either working on their accommodations or already sitting on eggs.
A few catbirds were singing. We saw song sparrows, house finches and cardinals. The orioles that built a nest in the tree in the lower gardens were attending to their young which involved one or two just out of the nest all puffed up and fluffy on a nearby branch and some clearly still in the nest.

The upper gardens were quiet as well. A chipping sparrow and some titmice were in evidence along with the same sightings as in the lower gardens.

Down by the soccer field we heard and finally saw a Warbling vireo, a common yellowthroat, the wood peewee, a red-bellied woodpecker and more orioles. A pair of mallards appear to have nested on the side of the pond but we didn't see any babies. Red-winged blackbirds made there presence known.

Little Wood Satyr
Also, saw this beautiful butterfly in the soccer field. I'm not sure I've seen this one before. It's called "Little Wood Satyr" or "Megisto cymela".

We saw several barn swallows while standing on the canoe dock. I looked for the moonwort ferns that Don L. had discovered but they don't seem to be out yet. No heron sightings either. Woodcock meadow was pretty quiet except for a house wren singing it's heart out and a common yellowthroat.

The JCC woods were quiet too. I was contacted by Paul about one of the lady slippers blooming, but between Ian and myself, we couldn't find one that was in bloom. We did see the lady slipper foliage and for some reason, they look like the winter conditions did not agree with them. They don't look very happy.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day

Song sparrow
It was 53 degrees, and cloudy at 7:00 a.m. It was raw and damp, but I wanted to catch up on my birding. Haynes and Chris H. had seen the gray-cheeked thrush and I was hoping I might get to see it, but alas, it was not to be...

In the lower gardens, I was greeted by our usual nesting tree swallows and numerous yellow warblers. The male and female oriole were about as well as chipping sparrows, robins, song sparrows, house wrens, seagulls overhead and a flicker foraging on the ground.

I could have sworn I heard the faint call of the cuckoo, but without someone else there, I didn't trust my sound perception in the case of something more unusual like a cuckoo.

Upper gardens: In addition to similar sightings from the lower gardens, there were some goldfinches, and a cardinal, In general, the park was pretty quiet today and who could blame the birds. It was a bit nasty out today.

Down by the soccer field, I heard my first wood thrush singing it's hauntingly beautiful flute-like song from the JCC woods. A warbling vireo was singing near the pond. I startled a female red-winged blackbird and a common yellow-throat sang from the brushy edge. Near the nature center, a pair of robins were busy feeding their young on the ground.

Woodcock meadow had some blue jays, house wrens, common yellow-throats, mourning doves and a turkey exploring the forest edge. An eastern phoebe called from some nearby shrubs, but never saw it.

No sign of flower stalks on the lady slippers. Is there a chance they might not bloom this year or are they just extraordinarily late?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Cuckoos and other great birds!

Common Yellow-throat male
At 7:00 a.m., it was 49 degrees, clear and sunny.

I drove up around the same time as Haynes, so we walked around together and later connected with Ian down by the river.

It was a beautiful day and what could be better than starting off with the call of a cuckoo, which Haynes identified as the black-billed cuckoo. Later we saw the yellow-billed cuckoo high up in a tree by the river.

We've been keeping an eye on the lady slippers which seem far behind last years schedule. Where many plants have been unusually floriferous this spring, the lady slippers seem like they missed the snow cover and are unhappy and not as plentiful.

We also had a scheduled invasive pull organized by Katherine from Newton Conservators, which took place at the edge of Woodcock meadow. A good number of people showed up and pulled an amazing amount of garlic mustard.

Haynes' list:
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  1
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  10
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  1
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus)  1     at river
Black-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus erythropthalmus)  1     heard
Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica)  3
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)  1
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  1
Eastern Wood-Pewee (Contopus virens)  1
Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus)  4
Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus)  3
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)  3
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  12
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  3
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  5
Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)  1
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  1
House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)  3
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  16
Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)  8
Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia)  1
Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)  2
Magnolia Warbler (Setophaga magnolia)  1
Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)  12
Blackpoll Warbler (Setophaga striata)  1
Canada Warbler (Cardellina canadensis)  1
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  6
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)  4
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus)  3
Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)  1     f
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  4
Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)  2
Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)  1
Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)  10
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  2
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  3
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  1

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

One day of spring

Well, finally some nice weather. Tomorrow it'll be summer, but today it felt like spring at Nahanton Park. I got an early start and was rewarded with seven warbler species, including this pretty Magnolia

and a Chestnut-sided Warbler

But the real surprise was a Yellow-billed Cuckoo!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Where's that Worm-eating warbler?

In search of the worm-eating warbler that I've been hearing about, I got to the park at 7:30 a.m. It was 54 degrees and sunny.

This was my second attempt to view it since Haynes and others had seen it earlier in the week, and also Saturday morning. The newly cleared out area at the Winchester St. entrance makes for a new place to bird watch which is fun. I saw this flicker across the road prepping a hole for a nest, but no sign of the warbler.
Baltimore Oriole

Apparently Ian and Mary Lou and several other people I met at the park today were looking for it as well, but did see a
scarlet tanager in the area. Sadly, I missed that too!

The lower gardens of course had our summer resident tree swallows. They're always the first birds you see and the yellow warblers were in great abundance.

Yellow warbler
Yellow-rumped warbler
A baltimore oriole couple has already built a nest in a tree in the lower gardens that has been used by orioles in the past. Before I forget, I will mention that I saw a couple of male hummingbirds in the gardens on Thursday, but no sightings today.

Saw goldfinches, catbirds and a rose-breasted grosbeak
male. A female cowbird was perched on a garden fence. I suppose she is waiting for the yellow warblers to build their nests so she can lay her eggs. There were some song sparrows as well. It's funny how they seem a little sparse at the beginning of the season, but later it will seem like they are everywhere.

In the upper gardens, a wren has picked out his nest box and keeps an eye on it constantly. I'm not sure if his lady has arrived yet, but he's ready when she does! Saw more palms and some yellow rumps in the area near the birch and beehives. Have been seeing several female red-winged blackbirds this spring as well as their beautiful male counterparts.  Canada geese and a hawk flew overhead. More orioles and a nuthatch...

Down by the soccer field were several grackles and lots of yellow rumps. I finally spotted a warbling vireo high up in an oak tree. There was another red-breasted grosbeak, several red-winged blackbirds and chickadees.
Blue Jay

Barn swallows were flying back and forth over the river and a couple of
blue jays perched in a nearby tree looking like they were surveying their territory.  In woodcock meadow there were song sparrows, eastern phoebes doing amazing acrobatics to capture yummy insects and surprisingly a couple of savannah sparrows in a pine tree. Titmice called out from theJCC woods. I believe I have seen the first signs of  lady slipper foliage poking up out of the leaves. They should be blooming in the next week or two.