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!