Friday, November 30, 2012

Breaking News: Barred Owl and Redheads

I was just reading Massbird and several sightings caught my eye that I wanted to share. A barred owl has been seen at Millenium Park over the last few days (I believe it was originally found my Marry Lou) and is reliably located near the foot bridge over the Saw Mill Brook. Click here for a picture. Then at Hammond Pond several individuals have seen redheads (pictures here) Quite exciting finds around Newton.

I would really like to go find both of these, as I have never actually seen a barred owl (I've only heard them) and this would also be my first for MA. And the readheads would be a lifer for me. Maybe I'll have to see if a can't spare a few minutes this weekend to track down one or the other.

This just serves to remind me of all the great birders around Newton and I would like to make it easier for more people to contribute. So I'm creating a new email address that you can use if you want to share your own sightings.  Please use: wildnewtonblog(at)gmail(dot)com

Dec. 15, 2012 Update. I recently got over to Hammond Pond and was able to see and photograph the redheads in this post.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Mergansers Retern to Hammond Pond

Hooded Mergansers
  I birded around Hammond Pond today a little bit after noon. Definitely not prime birding time, but I was mostly interested in the waterfowl especially as the weather has been getting chillier. I was not disappointed. The hooded mergansers are back and I had fun watching them dive for fish between the mudflats. I think that these have to be one of the most visually striking birds in the states. Another surprise was a young double-crested cormorant sleeping on a mud flat. Also present were a single Canada goose and several mallard pairs. In the back corner I thought I could just make out a common merganser too. More to the woods there were blue jays, chickadees, titmice, juncos, robins and a white-breasted nuthatch. I also got a great close-up view of a gorgeous male downy and his red patch. I also thought I might have heard the three noted "tsee-tsee-tsee" of a golden-crowned kinglet. I am certainly going to enjoy seeing what this winter might bring to our ponds and lakes!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Changing of the guard

At Matt's invitation, I'm posting  a Newton bird sighting list. This is what was around my feeder this morning. No photos, sorry! I was admiring the differences in flight style between the two nuthatches, when a Red-bellied Woodpecker appeared on the tree. After a while it flew off, and was immediately replaced with a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker! I haven't see one of these birds in quite a while. 

Mourning Dove  2
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1     m
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  1     m
Downy Woodpecker  1
Blue Jay  2
Black-capped Chickadee  4
Tufted Titmouse  4
Red-breasted Nuthatch  2
White-breasted Nuthatch  2
Carolina Wren  1
American Robin  2
Song Sparrow  1
White-throated Sparrow  1
Dark-eyed Junco  4
Northern Cardinal  2
House Finch  1
American Goldfinch  6
House Sparrow  9

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Post-Sandy Yard Birds

As hurricane Sandy approached, many birders were thinking about searching for sea birds blown north by the storm. I on the other hand was just busy battening down the hatches. I spent most the day inside and peeked out a few times. Early on, before the winds got too strong, there was an intrepid mockingbird guarding the locust tree and chasing off the few sparrows that ventured out. Later on, I was looking out of the windows and startled a few robins, who were hunkering down in the bushes under the window.

White-throated Sparrow
 The morning after Sandy, I slept in a little before venturing out to check out the damage. We were fortunate enough (this time anyway) not to have a single branch down or shingle out of place. But I was mostly amazed at the tremendous amount of bird activity. They all must have been blown off course or were starving after riding out the storm. I could hear song fragments of white-throated and song sparrows, so I wonder if these were males born this spring practicing their craft. I even caught a glimpse of a beautiful white-throated sparrow specimen with very clean white, crisp black, and a bright yellow lore spot (unfortunately not the one I got a picture of). A family of chickadees and a white-breasted nuthatch worked the cedar trees, while the white pines sported some starlings, and to my surprise, two male red-winged blackbirds, a first in the yard. I was at first skeptical, as they were so high up, but I caught glimpses of colored patches on the wing, so who else could it have been? In the shrubs I found a cardinal, blue jay, and house sparrows, while down in the grass there were a few robins and juncos. Just as I was heading off to work, a mockingbird flew overhead, so I knew that she at least made it safely through the storm.