Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Still warblers

Quick tour through the park on Sunday morning. Quite a few people around! Also, a formation of four Great Blue Herons -- I'd never seen such a line-up! --

-- and this male Common Yellowthroat in the upper garden. There were also several Northern Parulas, Blackpoll Warblers, and Red-eyed Vireos, but they were harder to photograph! Another birder saw and photographed a Cape May Warbler.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Fall on the way

Beautiful Sunday morning at the Park .... with some fall migrants coming through. The mulberry tree a along the path between the gardens held several vireos - a couple of Red-eyed Vireos and this somewhat elusive Philadelphia Vireo ...

and this beautiful male American Redstart. 

 The trees behind the upper garden held a Red-breasted Nuthatch -- my first there since the big invasion year 2012--2013.

Both gardens hosted a bunch of migrant Chipping Sparrows ...

and Savannah Sparrows.

The tree screen along the soccer field held some Ribbon Snakes. How many?

Monday, September 3, 2018

Heating up again (but not birdwise)...

Solitary Sandpiper
It was 74 degrees and cloudy at 7:30 a.m. when I arrived. I wanted to go early since it's been predicted to be a 90+ degree day. I quickly ran into Mary Lou who I haven't seen in ages and Jonathan briefly. Mary Lou and I actually started in the upper gardens.

We saw hummingbirds, song sparrows, gold finches, and house sparrows. Caught a glimpse of the ever-present groundhog, who upon the realization that he was not alone, hi-tailed it out of the garden he was in and disappeared quickly down one of the garden paths. They are very stealthy and can move surprisingly quickly.

As we headed through the woods to the soccer field, a small American toad crossed our path and disappeared into the woods with his amazing camouflage.

It was so quiet today that we didn't think we would see much and were finally surprised when the hotspot of the day was the soccer field area where we saw a lone yellow warbler, a juvenile oriole, a downy, a flicker and what I believe to be its young, a grackle and its young, nuthatches, robins, jays, catbirds and a pair of Eastern phoebes.

The water in the pond has receded quite a bit and that meant it was time for the Solitary sandpiper to move in and so it has! Apologies for the poor picture.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Birds and people alike are happy about a break from the heat

Common Yellowthroat
This post combines Friday and Saturday visits this week. Today it was 61 degrees and sunny. Yay! It was cool out. A beautiful morning at the park.

The lower gardens had lots going on - especially on my revisit with Haynes. When I first arrived there were robins, mourning doves and lots of song sparrows. A common yellowthroat pictured to left was seen on Friday. Clearly not the very yellow one that Haynes had seen a week ago. I thought I saw it again yesterday because I saw a bird with quite bit of yellow on it's breast, but on closer inspection it had some brown striations on it's side and an eye ring. After some thought, I believe it was a prairie warbler.

A humming bird was busy darting in and out of some red flowers while blue jays made themselves known. A few cedar waxwings were high up in a tree towards the golf course side. Friday, Carolina wrens were singing in their repeats of three. I know they were nearby, but couldn't locate them. House wrens are still present, including their tail-less offspring! Cardinals were busy foraging, and a catbird was busy plucking berries.

I know people aren't that excited about chipmunks, but really, how cutes is this little guy or gal? And so easy to photograph. That's the best part.

Great Blue Skimmer
A very exciting development in the lower gardens was Haynes discovering a bobolink high up in a treetop on the Winchester St. side. He captured a picture and maybe he will post it later. I haven't seen one there in ages, but he wasn't surprised to see it as fall approaches.

Morning Glory
The upper gardens had two hummingbirds, a flicker and several chickadees. Titmice were busy in the oak trees and the willow tree toward the bee hives was a very active site. I briefly saw a warbler that appeared gray with a possible eye ring. At first I thought it was a bluegrass gnatcatcher, but it didn't have the right tail. Then I thought a kinglet, but it wasn't acting like a kinglet. Haynes and I both saw a blue-winged warbler there, which was really nice. It was very visible which is always a treat. Saw a couple of Eastern phoebes and the tail-less baby house wren.

Donna's Zinnias
Goldfinches were in plentiful supply. I've noticed they love the seeds from the evening primrose and evening primroses have invaded many of the gardens. I now have some that found my gardens at home and it has kept the goldfinches around and visible for much more of the season and that's a good thing. Nuthatches called nasally from the woods at the back of the upper gardens.

The pond still has some water in it, but seems to be pretty quiet save for about four mallards paddling around. The path has become very difficult to get through, so hopefully, we can get it cleared out a little for better access.

The soccer field also had a couple of phoebes. Please join us for three great fall walks in October. Check out our website at: www.nahantonpark.org for details.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Another strange warbler ...

Beautiful quiet morning at Nahanton Park. This scruffy young House Wren, in the Upper Garden, is molting into first basic plumage.
A pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were the first indication of a big mixed flock at the circle near the soccer field. 

So much activity! Baltimore Orioles were singing, Black-capped Chickadees were bounding around, a couple of American Redstarts were flitting here and there. In the shady path I was surprised by an Ovenbird, a Black-and-white Warbler, a Canada Warbler, a Red-eyed Vireo, and this peculiarly colored Common Yellowthroat.
These birds don't usually show yellow legs and bill, nor this much yellow in the belly. This is a condition known as xanthochromism. The Common Yellowthroat I posted here on July 31 may have shown the same genetic aberration. 

At this point Suzette showed up. The flock had disbursed, so we went to the upper field, Woodcock Meadow, and found a lot of dragonflies, including this male Lance-tipped Darner, a first for me.

In the lower garden we found more dragonflies, as well as this attractive ichneumon wasp:

Friday, August 10, 2018

Let the migration begin!

Fall's here, believe it or not. The Park is already filling up with migrants: At least four American Redstarts for example. A family of Common Yellowthroats was training at the path along the pond, most likely resident. Here's a Field Sparrow from near the lower garden -- very early! The earliest fall record I have from Nahanton Park before today is September 24.

A Northern Watershrush strutted in the pond.

This Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was hanging out in the brush at the far end of the upper garden,

and this juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird was expectantly waiting to be fed. When I first saw it, it shared a branch with a juvenile American Robin. This was odd ... Robins are very rarely parasitized by Cowbirds. The juvenile flew before I saw anyone come to feed it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Midsummer lookalikes

Back to the Garden for the first time in several weeks. There were a lot (maybe 4) of Common Yellowthroats around, including this extensively yellow individual....

looking almost like a Yellow Warbler. One of them posed for me too.

A Chipping Sparrow was dutifully feeding a much larger Brown-headed Cowbird.

In the lower garden I encountered this Bobolink. They are almost annual spring and fall visitors. This very gray and poorly marked juvenile sure looks like the cowbird, doesn't it!

Several Hummingbirds were taking advantage of the tube flowers ...

Also in the lower garden I watched a Spicebush Swallowtail feasting on an Ecinacea.

and this Twelve-spotted Skimmer.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

A break from the dog days of summer

Hummingbird Moth
It's been quite some time since I've been at the park.  At 7:30 a.m., it was a beautiful 71 degrees, pleasant, clear and sunny.

I was surprised that the gardens were abuzz with activity as it was so quiet when I was last there. Several different bird species were out and about with their young/adolescents including robins, blue jays, cardinals and house wrens.

The gardens are looking great - filled with growing veggies and beautiful flowers. There were song sparrows, goldfinches, cedar waxwings, titmice and tree swallows.

Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird
I saw a beautiful male hummingbird. The light made him look really unusual. His head was black with a white chin and iridescent turquoise feathers. I was sure he was something other than a ruby-throated male, but he must be because there is nothing else he looks like either.

Female Ruby-throated hummingbird
In bloom in the meadow (besides that horrible monoculture of artemisia) was Queen Anne's Lace, goldenrod, purple cone flowers and black-eyed Susans.

The upper gardens had similar fare, with the addition of a yellow warbler, a female hummingbird and my favorite moth - the hummingbird moth.

The pond is low, but surprisingly for this time of year still has water in it. It's hard getting down to get a good look with all the dead trees blocking the path and also the brush has taken over and is blocking much of the view. However, I don't think there were any sandpipers or herons down there.

Down by the river, the barn swallows were flying under the bridge and chickadees were calling near the parking lot. A few tree swallows were in Woodcock meadow, but otherwise very quiet up there.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

A beautiful, but quiet day...

Lady slipper Orchid
7:30 a.m. 59 degrees and sunny. Surprisingly quiet, for such a beautiful day.

The first thing I did when I arrived was check out the lady slippers. (see Haynes' photo from previous post). They usually bloom slightly before Memorial day, but I wanted to see if they were still out and if there were any more than the one that I saw a few weeks ago. I'm happy to report that this time I was able to locate three of them which means a few were missing from what we saw last year, but at least we weren't down to only one. A pee wee called from the JCC area.

I also saw a few weeks ago these precious little white wildflowers which I'm having trouble identifying, but I will keep on looking. If anyone knows, please leave me a comment.

White wildflowers
It was a very quiet day considering how beautiful it was. The birds must be either nesting or taking care of their young or done! The lower gardens had what one would expect - robins, house wrens, yellow warblers, tree swallows, catbirds, song sparrows and cardinals.

The meadow is sporting a few wildflowers despite the overwhelming majority of artemisia. I saw white daisies, one yellow coreopsis and some white fleabane.

The upper gardens had mostly the same birds as the lower with the addition of some orioles, chimney swifts overhead and goldfinches.

Down by the soccer field and pond area I think I heard a Great crested flycatcher. Has anyone else heard it? I wasn't 100% sure. There were some bull frogs singing from the pond, a warbling vireo and some grackles.

House Wren
I tried to find the cuckoos that Haynes saw last week, but couldn't find them. However, there was a very vocal warbling vireo in a tree next to the dock and for 10 minutes I tried to find him. I never did see him, but in my search, I discovered its hanging nest, so that was nice. A couple of Canada geese cruised up river and a crow and jay were making a bit of a racket. A red-winged blackbird perched on a low branch nearby.

Woodcock meadow was quiet save for a house wren and some song sparrows.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018


Beautiful morning at Nahanton Park. The surprise was this pair of Yellow-billed Cuckoos, apparently nesting along Florrie's Path. Beyond the two trees fallen across the path (and not yet cleared by the city) there is a ten foot high snag on the river side of the path, with a hole near the top (maybe a chickadee nest). The birds were in the canopy just beyond.

The bloodroot by the pond is looking great, and the ladyslippers are blooming in the usual place!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mothers Day surprises

Every year Alison Leary and I lead a Mothers Day bird walk at Nahanton Park. This year we had quite a large and enthusiastic group, and found some interesting birds. We encountered about 35 species of which nine were warblers, including Black-throated Blue, Chestnut-sided, Canada, and Wilson's.  

I was too busy to take any photos till after the walk was over, when I found this second Canada Warbler along Florrie's Path.

At the end of the upper (Woodcock) field, a brown bird flushed out of a tree and into the tree screen in front of the parking lot. Black-billed Cuckoo!

Soon after, I relocated the Chestnut-sided Warbler ....

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Grim discovery, but happy goings ons too!

Dead Seagull found on outskirts of pond area
7:00 am, 60 degrees and partly sunny.

The yellow warblers are back and singing away!! They're such cheerful little birds.

Lower Gardens: I ran into a man named Bill, who had arrived earlier. He was taking pictures with a huge lens and tripod. He had seen some black & white warblers and an oven bird which unfortunately, I was not able to locate. However, I did see the following: a VERY colorful white-throated sparrow, house finches, tree swallows, robins, goldfinches, cowbirds, blue jays, (2) house wrens checking out the bird boxes that the tree swallows are staking out, an oriole male, catbirds, gulls overhead and cardinals.

The upper gardens had similar fare with the addition of several red-winged blackbird couples, chickadees and song sparrows. One of the gardeners has several feeders up and they were all having a field day.

The soccer field/pond area had some downies, a nuthatch, a blue heron flying overhead and a beautiful male towhee. So, I guess he's still here!

I saw signs of large gray wings back in the brush and worried it was a dead blue heron. I had to scramble through crabapple and cat briar thorns to get to the bird. It was a dead seagull. When you see them up close, you realize just how large they are. It was very sad and I have no idea what happened. It's head was in a strange position and I wondered if it had somehow broken its neck.

Down by the river, the barn swallows are back flying under the bridge where we usually see them. I found out an interesting fact last night at the Newton Conservators dinner. Peter Alden, the guest speaker informed us that there is a huge decline in barn swallows due to people painting their barns. Apparently, their type of nests do not stick well to painted wood - only to natural wood.

Make sure to come to Haynes and Alison's Mother's Day bird walk on Sunday, May 13th at 8:00 a.m. Meet at the Nahanton St. entrance. It's always a special treat.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

They sure are coming!!

Hermit Thrush
40  degrees and sunny at 8:30 a.m.

The lower gardens were actually a lot quieter than I expected. Some of our regulars were there - robins, tree swallows, blue jays, goldfinches, song sparrows, cardinals, chickadees, a junco and some grackles flying overhead. On my way back a red-winged blackbird couple were hanging out near the parking lot.

The upper gardens had much the same with the addition of a flicker, a white throated sparrow kicking up lots of leaf litter and this fabulous hermit thrush which Haynes saw last weekend. I haven't seen one in a couple of years so it was most exciting.

In the woods adjacent to the soccer field parking and on the same side as the upper gardens, the hermit thrush reappeared with some ruby-crowned kinglets, an eastern phoebe and what I thought was a black-throated green warbler if that's possible at this time of year. It certainly looked like one, but only had a second to look at it before it flew off.

How exciting that Haynes saw the palm warblers! I was half expecting to see a few since the day was so beautiful, but didn't.

Near the pond was another kinglet flitting around in  the low brush and a red-winged blackbird was singing. I think there may have been 3 or 4 today.

Woodcock meadow had several tree swallows and high up in a tree at the forest edge were cowbirds - 2 males and a female.

Yippee!!! Things are heating up in the bird world.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

First warblers

Comparatively warm and sunny day today at NP. Great to find two Palm Warblers along Florrie's Path. The hotspot today was the woods adjacent to the lower garden parking lot. There I found a pair of Hermit Thushes, an Eastern Phoebe, a Hairy Woodpecker, and a Brown Creeper. I've had Brown Creeper exactly here before; maybe they like this spot.