Spring Arrivals on the Necklace

It was cooler this morning than yesterday but 15 birders turned out for a walk around Leveret Pond and on to Olmsted Park and Ward’s Pond and back.  The walk was promoted by the Brookline GreenSpace Alliance which works tirelessly to maintain the natural beauty of this section of the Emerald Necklace.  As we gathered near the parking area off Pond Street we watched two species of swallow cruise over the pond:

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Northern Rough-winged Swallows uncharacteristically at rest. Note the smaller brown body with white breast and the lengthy folded wings.

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Male Tree Swallow, showing the iridescent blue head, back and wings and white breast.

We noted the steadier flight of the Tree Swallows versus the more active wing beats of the less common  rough-wings.

As we circled around to the Boston side of this boundary pond we looked across to one of the small islands and located a Black-crowned Night-Heron sitting stock still in a brush tangle; what a stunning bird!

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Black-crowned Night-Heron

At the end of the walk someone in the group located it again, this time from the Brookline side- and much closer- allowing for great looks.  We also had a Great Blue Heron that flew past us at Leverett; we later caught up with it on the edge of tiny Willow Pond.

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The Great Blue Heron is larger and taller, and much more common on this stretch of the Necklace. Notice the showy black feather plume off the head of this adult bird compared to the white plume on the Night-Heron

This area is usually good for woodpeckers but we saw none and heard only one Northern Flicker. I wish we had seen it:

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There are two “races” of the Northern Flicker, Red and Yellow Shafted, referring to the color of the wing feather shafts. Can you tell which one this is?

Warblers were equally hard to find; we had several Yellow-rumped and one lovely Black and White Warbler that we saw in the thickets on the way up to Ward’s Pond and again on the path as we returned:

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Black and White Warblers are usually found on the trunk or main branches of a tree rather than out in the foliage as they search for little creatures hiding in the bark.

Throughout the walk we enjoyed the calls of Baltimore Orioles and Warbling Vireos.  The latter bird does not match it’s singing brilliance:

when finally visualized:

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Drab is an unkind but nonetheless accurate description of this little bird.

No bird walk in this locale would be complete without sighting a Wood Duck,  and we watched a pair from a distance and later very close up:

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A pair of Wood Ducks, female in front

Leverett has become a true mecca for this most beautiful duck, especially in winter.  In the last several years they have breed on these ponds; let’s hope that will happen again this year!

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A female Wood Duck and two of her ducklings on Leverett Pond in 2016.

Here is the complete list of birds from the walk:

Olmsted Park–Leverett Pond, Suffolk, Massachusetts

Apr 30, 2017 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM

Comments:     48-52, sunny

29 species

  • Canada Goose  6
  • Wood Duck  2 
  • Mallard  12
  • Double-crested Cormorant  1
  • Great Blue Heron  1
  • Black-crowned Night-Heron  1
  • Red-tailed Hawk  1
  • Ring-billed Gull  2
  • Mourning Dove  1
  • Northern Flicker  1
  • Warbling Vireo  6
  • Blue Jay  3
  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow  4
  • Tree Swallow  6
  • Black-capped Chickadee  2
  • White-breasted Nuthatch  1
  • American Robin  35
  • Gray Catbird  2
  • European Starling  7
  • Black-and-white Warbler  1
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler  2
  • Chipping Sparrow  1
  • White-throated Sparrow  2
  • Song Sparrow  1
  • Northern Cardinal  5
  • Red-winged Blackbird  10
  • Common Grackle  25
  • Baltimore Oriole  5
  • House Sparrow  6

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36418547

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

Next weekend I will be leading two more walks in the Arboretum.  I hope you can join me.

Good Birding!

Spring Kickoff!

This morning 37 birders of all stripes joined me for a two hour early spring walk in the Arnold Arboretum.  It was cloudy but otherwise perfect and we had some good birds and a lot of fun.  The highlight of the walk was watching the newly arrived Baltimore Orioles jockeying for territory.  At one point three males were standing off against one another, giving memorable looks.

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Baltimore Oriole, male

Early on someone spotted a couple of Cedar Waxwings but they flew off before others could get on them.  A bit later a large flock came by and then everyone got to see these formally attired  birds:

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Cedar Waxwings always look dressed to kill!

Migrating warblers were few and far between and we didn’t get good looks at any.  The Yellow-rumped Warblers were high up; too bad as they can be so pretty:

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Male Yellow-rumped Warbler

It was nice to get both species of nuthatch:

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White-breasted Nuthatch in characteristic location on a tree trunk

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Red-breasted Nuthatch is much less common in the Arboretum than its cousin above

There were two of each together; hopefully that is a sign of breeding to come.

We had three sparrow species on the walk; least well seen was the Savannah:

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Savannah Sparrow showing its streaked breast and yellow eyebrow.

Red-winged Blackbirds were everywhere, the males showing off their red and yellow epaulettes.  Many in the group were surprised at the strongly dimorphic (gender different) coloration of the recently arrived females:

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This drably colored and streaked female red-wing will be hard to see on nest.

We were hoping that the Arnold’s well-known and frequently seen Eastern Screech-owl would be visible in it’s hole when we reached the ponds, but were disappointed.  One of the group had seen her on their way to the walk, and as it turned out several in the group got to see her after the walk ended.  I took this image the day before:

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Red-phased Eastern Screech-owl in her (nest?) hole

Since my last post about this owl there has been some interesting new information. Two competent birders witnessed the owl mating near the hole on several different days in late February, confirming it was a female.  Then there were several weeks where the bird was not reported; I theorized that she had left the hole and gone elsewhere to make a nest.  But now the owl, nicknamed “Screechy” by visitor staff, is being seen regularly.  In past years a red morph screech frequented the hole in the winter but was never seen this far into spring.  Could she be on eggs; now owlets?   Or was it not a successful mating, and she is just hanging around in the roost hole feeling sorry for herself?  Perhaps we will learn more as fledging time arrives, in mid to late May or early June.

Here is today’s complete list:

Arnold Arboretum, Suffolk, Massachusetts

Apr 29, 2017 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM

Comments:     70, cloudy

33 species

  • Canada Goose  2
  • Mallard  2
  • Herring Gull  1
  • Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  2 
  • Mourning Dove  2
  • Eastern Screech-Owl  1 not seen by all
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker  1 heard
  • Downy Woodpecker  2
  • Northern Flicker  3
  • Warbling Vireo  1 heard
  • Blue Jay  2
  • American Crow  1
  • Tree Swallow  2
  • Black-capped Chickadee  2
  • Tufted Titmouse  2
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch  2
  • White-breasted Nuthatch  2
  • American Robin  25
  • Gray Catbird  5
  • European Starling  1
  • Cedar Waxwing  15
  • Yellow Warbler  5
  • Pine Warbler  1 heard
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler  3
  • Chipping Sparrow  4
  • Savannah Sparrow  1
  • Song Sparrow  4
  • Northern Cardinal  3
  • Red-winged Blackbird  12
  • Common Grackle  9
  • Baltimore Oriole  6
  • American Goldfinch  3
  • House Sparrow  5

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36386906

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

Good Birding!

Spring Bird Walks Begin!

The spring birding season is starting up and early migrants are arriving.  Here is one I saw yesterday:

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Eastern Phoebe is one of the earliest migrants to arrive and is easily identified by its drab appearance and its “tail bobbing” habit.

I will be leading walks for the Arnold Arboretum, the Brookline Bird Club and other organizations in the Emerald Necklace on several dates in April and May. Here is the current list:

Saturday, April 29

Arnold Arboretum, Boston. 

A 90-minute walk suitable for beginners as well as more experienced birders. See the arboretum website for directions or to download a checklist of birds.

Meeting Location: Main Gate off the Arborway, park along Arborway 8:00 AM to 9:30 AM. 

Sunday, April 30

Leverett Pond/ Olmsted Park.

This walk is sponsored by the Brookline GreenSpace Alliance and is geared toward beginning birders as well as those more experienced.  In addition to migrant and resident land birds we will be looking for waterfowl that have lingered from winter or may be nesting near the ponds.

Meeting location: Parking lot on the Brookline side of Leverett Pond near the Brook House and Route 9.  8:00 AM to 9:30 AM

Saturday, May 6

Arnold Arboretum, Boston.  

A 90-minute walk suitable for beginners as well as more experienced birders.See the arboretum website for directions or to download a checklist of birds.

Meeting Location: Peters Hill Gate on Bussey Street 8:00 AM to 9:30 AM. 

Sunday, May 7

Bussey Brook Meadow, Arnold Arboretum, Boston. 

The Arboretum Park Conservancy and the BBC are sponsoring this 90-minute walk in the Bussey Brook area of the Arboretum. The walk is suitable for beginning birders as well as those more experienced.

Meeting Location: South Street gate to the Arboretum, on South Street, where there is limited parking. Also accessible from Forest Hills T Station path from Washington Street 8:00 AM to 9:30 AM. 

Saturday, May 20

Arnold Arboretum, Boston. A 90-minute walk suitable for beginners as well as more experienced birders.  See the arboretum website for directions or to download a checklist of birds.

Meeting Location: Main Gate off the Arborway, park along Arborway 8:00 AM to 9:30 AM.

Bob Mayer, (617) 983-3330

rgmayer@comcast.net

I hope you will be able to attend some of these free walks.

Good Birding!