Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wayside Inn Grist Mill

You had to be up early today if you wanted to see any amount of sunshine.  Luckily for me, I woke up at 5AM, so I enjoyed some extra time outdoors before work.

First stop:  Hopkinton State Park, Hopkinton, MA

Next stop:  Wayside Inn Grist Mill, Sudbury, MA

As I crossed the bridge to enter the property, I flushed a Great Blue Heron from the stream.  It really didn't seem happy with me at all and soon landed in a tree almost directly above me to squawk at me.  He also had an extremely itchy chin, so I tried to capture its incessant scratching on video.  I was impressed with its good balance doing a one-legged scratch while perched on a tree branch!


The pond was half covered with green duckweed or something like it.  I wasn't expecting to see much of anything in that muck and was pleasantly surprised to flush two wood ducks from quite near the path.  Three more flushed soon after from the noise of my camera.

They all flew to the far side of the pond, where the water was still open, and the sun was still shining.  It was much prettier looking over there!

In the woods I came across a pair of Northern Flickers who had already established their nest hole in a dead tree.

I like the above photo because it shows how the Flicker uses its tail to prop itself on the side of the tree.

The sunlight began fading....

 Turkey Vulture

And that was pretty much it for the sun for the day (until evening when it showed up again for a little while).  It started raining when I was on my way home....

Mid-morning back at home, I heard some squeaking outside my office window, and when I looked, one of the Broad-Winged Hawks was sitting on a branch.  I soon realized it was the female because as I watched, the male flew in and mated with her.  She must have been calling out an invitation.  There was little time to react.  I grabbed my camera, but the male was flying off by the time I was able to get it out of the bag and return to the window!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Return of the Broad-Winged Hawks

Happy Earth Day!  I like to think that the earth is worth celebrating every day.  I started the morning at Hopkinton State Park, where, unfortunately, the black flies are back in their glory.  Just opening my car door to leave, at least 50 of them came into the car!

Species seen:
Blue Jay
Canada Goose
Chipping Sparrow
Double-Crested Cormorant
Mourning Dove
Mute Swan
Northern Cardinal
Tree Swallow

 Tree Swallow

 Mute Swan

 Chipping Sparrows

Double-Crested Cormorant

Today  I saw the breeding Broad-Winged Hawks (first time this spring) that live in our neighborhood.  They didn't stay long but will no doubt set up a nest somewhere nearby.

Broad-winged Hawk

I took my lunchtime hike at Breakneck Hill Conservation Land.

Species seen:
American Crow
American Robin
Black-Capped Chickadee
Eastern Bluebird
European Starling
House Sparrow
Northern Flicker
Northern Mockingbird
Red-Winged Blackbird
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Tufted Titmouse

I've heard that the Conservation Commission has plans to remove this old farm "building" so I thought I'd take a photo before it's gone for good.

Savannah Sparrow (1 of 2)

and again, sitting nice and high on an old cow patty

 American Crow

 Mourning Cloak butterfly (1 of 2)


Monday, April 21, 2014

Patriots Day at Mt. Auburn Cemetery

Having made no firm commitment where I would walk today, I ended up at Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge in part due to bad traffic.  There was a huge truck fire on the Zakim bridge this morning, which ruined anyone's chance of using the Turnpike to get through the city and go north on Route 93.  As a result, the traffic leaving the Turnpike at the Route 128 exit was backed up for miles.  Actually, the exit I had to use to get to Mt. Auburn was backed up over a mile, and I just chalked that up to Boston traffic.  You really do just have to deal with horrible traffic around here.  It's is my least favorite thing about living in New England.

Now that that's out of my system, the cemetery did not disappoint.  Trees and flowers were in blossom.  The sky was blue, as were many of the flowers.  There were a few interesting birds, too.

 Blue Jay

 Coyote statue (used to deter Canada geese)

Common Grackle


Downy woodpecker

Eastern Phoebe

 Northern Flicker
(Isn't that heart-shaped black mark adorable?)

Common Grackle

 Northern Flicker (coming out of one of its nest holes).
A second nest hole also shows in the above photo about 18 inches below the bird on the front of the tree.  The flicker decided it needed to be just a little bit bigger, so I took a video of it expanding the opening.

Cabbage White