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.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

First day back and it was GREAT!

Palm Warbler
This was my first day back at Nahanton after a very long stretch. It was 50 degrees at 7:00 a.m. and sunny.

I was greeted by tree swallows who were dipping and diving and who had already staked out their nest boxes for the season. Yellow warblers were singing everywhere and courting each other. It was such a cheerful scene and I must say I was really happy to be back!

Saw some black and white warblers and several palms. I don't think I ever saw so many at one time. They were all over the crabapple in the center of the lower gardens. Goldfinches were chasing each other. I had just seen a catbird in my yard the day before, but at the park, there were several. I had to take a picture of this one because it looked so very happy peering out from this crabapple near the path to the upper gardens.

There were titmice near the golf course side and red-winged blackbirds staking out their territories. Later, when I ran into Haynes and went back to the lower gardens, there were savannah sparrows, a female oriole, cardinals, chickadees and yellow rumps.

Red-breasted grosbeak
I headed to the upper gardens where there were more black & whites, mourning doves and robins but a certain song caught met attention. I looked up and there was a beautiful male red-breasted grosbeak. As he flew off, I saw he was chasing another male. Also saw a female. Chimney swifts flew overhead.

High in the oaks were some blue-gray gnatcatchers making their little buzzy noises and flitting about. I could hear an eastern phoebe calling from the woods. Chipping sparrows chipped away. A couple of house wrens were clearly back as evidenced by their bubbling babble!

House wren
Down by the soccer field we saw a parula, heard warbling vireo and ovenbird. The river yielded several eastern phoebes and I was glad to see that they are back to nesting on the nature center eaves. They didn't like it when it got repainted and stayed away for a season. We saw more blue-gray gnatcatchers, yellow rumps, a ruby-crowned kinglet and a blue jay.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

What's new at the park?

New Bat Boxes
At about 8:30 a.m., it was clear, sunny, 33 degrees and very quiet. The meadow has been mowed.

Last fall, Chris, a scout and student at Newton South, was interested in installing 3 bat houses at the park for his Eagle Scout project. There was much discussion, but we all liked the project and the Friends of Nahanton Park approved a donation to help offset some of the material expenses. FNP and the City both approved the project.

Due to some family situations, I haven't been able to get to the park in quite some time, so I was excited to get over there today. There is one box in the lower gardens facing the golf course, one in the upper gardens overlooking the meadow and one in Woodcock meadow.

Song sparrow
It will be most interesting to see if the bats find the boxes. We hope they will.

In the meantime, as I mentioned earlier, it was very quiet today. The lower gardens there were a few
blue jays and possibly a robin. Canada geese were rather vocal flying overhead as well as hanging out at the golf course. Seagulls were seen, bright white against a beautiful blue sky. Four mallards flew by. I couldn't see one bird in the upper gardens, so I ventured down the path into the woods near the swamp, where I finally saw some chickadees and a lone song sparrow.

Mourning Dove
The soccer field and pond were devoid of any bird life that I could see or hear, however there were a few squirrels here and there. I was hoping for a golden-crowned kinglet or an American Tree sparrow, but there was nothing. Down by the river were large flocks of robins and mourning doves and in Woodcock meadow there were a couple of blue jays.

One fun thing about this time of year are the nests. With no leaves on the trees, they become very obvious and every year I say the same thing. I can't believe I walked by these nests so many times and never knew they were there. Some of them are at eye level and right at the edge of a bush. It's amazing how the birds keep their nests a secret - hiding in plain sight!