Misty and Grey Fall Bird Walk

Six people showed up on Saturday October 4th for a walk on Peters Hill in cloudy and occasionally rainy weather.  Birds were sporadic and just like last week we had NO warblers!  We did find some fall arrivals here and there and the regular residents.  The strangest sighting was a Red-bellied Woodpecker on the gravel road to the stump dump; it seemed to be finding ants or some other critters on the ground.  Not often this bird is seen on the ground.  Here’s one in more typical pose:


Red-bellied Woodpecker Photo: Bob Mayer

Here is the eBird list for the walk today.

Arnold Arboretum, Suffolk, US-MA
Oct 4, 2014 8:00 AM – 9:30 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.5 mile(s)
Comments:     cloudy, misty, 58
19 species

Red-tailed Hawk  1
Mourning Dove  6
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Downy Woodpecker  3
Blue Jay  7
Black-capped Chickadee  5
Tufted Titmouse  2
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
American Robin  25
Northern Mockingbird  3
European Starling  3
Chipping Sparrow  6
Song Sparrow  3
White-throated Sparrow  4
Dark-eyed Junco  1
Northern Cardinal  4
Common Grackle  2
House Finch  1
House Sparrow  12

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20025290

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)

Good Birding!

Indian Summer Bird Walk in the Arboretum

On Saturday I led a group of 13 birders on a walk in the Meadow Road area of the Arboretum.  The walk started off at 8 AM with temperatures in the low 50′s but by 10AM the thermometer was reading 72 and headed upwards.  The fall migration has been very slow in Boston and today was no exception; we had no northern birds passing through. Overall the species diversity was low, but we did have good looks at several resident birds.

Two of the three man-made ponds at the end of Meadow Road are nearly dry, but there was a Great Blue Heron feasting on the concentration of fish in the dwindling pool.

Great Blue Heron Photo: Bob Mayer

Elsewhere we had good looks at several of the resident Red-tailed Hawks in the Arboretum.


Red-tailed Hawk Photo: Bob Mayer

All the rest of the sightings were pretty mundane, but the good weather and an enthusiastic group kept the walk upbeat to the end. Here is our list for the morning:

Arnold Arboretum, Suffolk, US-MA
Sep 27, 2014 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM
Protocol: Traveling
2.0 mile(s)
Comments:     sunny, 52-71
17 species

Great Blue Heron  1
Red-tailed Hawk  3
Herring Gull  2
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  1
Mourning Dove  6
Downy Woodpecker  2
Blue Jay  7
Black-capped Chickadee  2
American Robin  18
Gray Catbird  2
European Starling  6
Cedar Waxwing  1
Chipping Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  1
Common Grackle  20
American Goldfinch  25
House Sparrow  20

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S19958859

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)

I will conduct another Arnold Arboretum fall walk this Saturday, October 4th at 8AM, starting from the Peters Hill Gate. Hopefully the later date, and the abundance of fall fruit on the hill, will bring in some migrants!  Hope to see you there.

Good Birding!


Dragonflies are everywhere!

My last post on the Odonata insect family focused on those who like to hang out close to ponds or other open water.  If you missed that piece, go back and read about the interesting life cycle of these fast-flying carnivores.  Some species roam away from water and can be seen hovering or zipping around open fields in search of prey.  One of the commonest genera are the meadowhawks.


Meadowhawk species- probably Ruby Meadowhawk, male
Photo: Bob Mayer

Meadowhawks are small; only a little over an inch in body length.  They are often seen perched and some, like the one shown above, are brightly colored.  Another closely related species is the White-faced Meadowhawk:


Meadowhawk species, probably White-faced Meadowhawk, female.

All meadowhawk females are yellow or beige, and distinguishing the species is often impossible without capture and careful examination.

Another odontate, this time in the damselfly group, is the Ebony Jewelwing:


Ebony Jewelwing, male. They are most likely to be found at forest edges near streams.
Photo: Andrew Joslin

An early summer wanderer is the Painted Skimmer:


Painted Skimmer, male
Photo: Bob Mayer

These striking orange odes can be seen regularly along the stream bed adjacent to Hemlock Hill Road in the Arboretum. In this same area I found another dragonfly species, back in 2009:


Mocha Emerald, female.
Photo: Bob Mayer

While Mocha’s are often reported in other areas of Massachusetts, my sighting was a first for Suffolk County I think, and I have yet to see it again in the Arb.

Dragonflies show seasonal variation; one of the latest to fly is the Shadow Darner:

Male Shadow Darner Aeshna umbrosa. This genus of large odentata is hard to identify to species in the field.
Photo: Bob Mayer

When not in flight, they tend to perch hanging vertically, as in the image.  That, and their large size of nearly three inches, helps to identify Aeshna genera.

The last large dragonfly seen commonly in the Arboretum- also a late flyer- is the Common Green Darner:


Common Green Darner, female
Photo: Bob Mayer

I have seen these big fellows all over the Arboretum, as late as October.  So keep your eyes open for dragonflies anywhere in the landscape.

On Sunday August 17th I’ll be leading a walk around the ponds at the end of Meadow Road in the Arboretum, beginning at 1:00 PM.  We’ll be looking for all kinds of invertebrates and observing what plants they favor for food or just as a place to rest.  In addition we will look at the giant cicada killers that breed and nest in that area.  I hope you can join me.

Enjoy the summer!