Monday, July 23, 2012

Spotted Sandpipers at Hammond Pond

I have not found great opportunity recently to get out birding recently. But fortunately I decided to make up for it this morning by spending half and hour at Hammond Pond.

Spotted Sandpiper
When I first stepped out of the car I couldn't help but feel a little disappointment at the lack of obvious avian activity at the pond. I couldn't see any herons or ducks, but I then started to scan the lily pads and was very excited to find a sandpiper with a tell-tale tail bobbing of a spotted sandpiper! In the past I have gotten the spotted and the solitary sandpipers confused as they generally have similar structure and coloring (at least when the spotted sandpiper is in its un-spotted winter molt), but no solitary has ever teetered like the spotted sandpiper. I was just reading about the spotted sandpiper and apparently they have a little gender role reversal with the females defending territory and the males raising the chicks.

A Wood Duck Family
With that sighting buoying my spirits, I headed towards the next overlook and heard a downy and a warbling vireo up in the trees. At the overlook two catbirds and a robin flushed from the brush while several noisy kingbirds flitted through the trees tops. Their electric song was quite thick as they chased each other around, making me think they must be a youngster and parents. I found another spotted sandpiper in quick order and noted a green heron in his silent vigil waiting for prey to pass while red-winged black birds moved around him searching the water lilies for food. Further towards the back of the pond a great blue heron took to wing with her heavy slow wing beats. Just as I was turning away, a family of wood ducks appeared as they were working their way towards open water. Mom moved along serenely while seven little ducklings sputtered around her obviously having much more trouble navigating the aquatic plants.
Hammond Pond

Just as I was reaching for the car door, I heard the high thin "see see see" of a cedar waxwing and a goldfinch calling from the lamp-post. While I may have only found 15 species (Canada geese, grackles, and house sparrows rounding out the count), I was quite contented with my morning.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Night-Heron at Boston Public Gardens

Black-crowned Night-Heron
  I was enjoying the cooler weather this afternoon while walking around Boston and the Public Gardens. Initially, a fenced off section of the shore drew in my attention. As it turns out the mute swans had made a nest of twigs and sticks on the banks, but in addition to a preening swan, many mallards were making use of the undisturbed location. I turned to go when a little movement on the island in the pond caught my attention. When I was finally able to get a good look it turned out to be a black-crowned night-heron! I was pleasantly surprised by this accidental find in the middle of the city. So far, I have only had luck finding them in Boston, with this being my third sighting. I know that Haynes and Suzette have seen black-crowned night-herons at the vernal pool in Nahanton (you can see Suzette's picture here) and eBird shows sightings at Hammond Pond, Chestnut Hill Reservoir, and Auburndale Park.  Before too long I'll have to run into a night heron in Newton between the Charles and all our ponds.