Friday, November 30, 2012

1-2-3 Hawks

Lunchtime birds.  Today's theme seemed to be hawks, with a couple new ducks thrown in for good measure!

Hawk #1
Red-Tailed Hawk (buteo)
Route 85, Southboro

I decided to make a quick stop at the Fay School ballfields after I saw a bunch of Canada geese in Strong Field.

Canada geese
(Oh, don't you want your kids playing on this field after the geese have been there?)

Hawk #2
Red-Tailed Hawk 
overlooking Strong Field

Northern Cardinal
(You have to love that brilliant red during this grey season!)

Ruddy Duck (female)
Life bird!

Ruddy Duck (male)
During the summer the male duck's bill is blue.  Hope I get to see that in 2013!

Hawk #3
Coopers Hawk (Accipiter)
Route 85, Southboro

I'm trying to learn how to identify hawks.  I have to admit, though, that on the first two I could clearly see they were red-tailed when they flew off!  I consider that cheating.  I want to be able to identify them when they are in the tree and I can't necessarily see the red of the tail.  For Hawk #3, I noticed that it was quite a bit smaller than #1 and #2, more like the size of a crow.  Also, its tail was so much longer than a red-tailed, its tail is striped (did you notice?) and its tail is rounded at the bottom.  Hope I got it right, because they say it is nearly impossible to tell it apart from a Sharp-Shinned Hawk.

It is not always easy for me to pay attention to the details because I am more focused on trying to get a clear photo!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Beautiful Morning at Farm Pond

It looked like a promising sunrise today, and I thought I'd go for a different setting from Hopkinton State Park, so I drove over to Farm Pond in Framingham.  Gorgeous!  I love the broad expanse of sky without disrupting power lines or buildings.....and the birding wasn't bad either!


 Brown Creeper

Red-Breasted Nuthatch

Downy Woodpecker

 Black-Capped Chickadee

 White-Throated Sparrow

 Mute Swans

Canada Geese

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Wildwood Cemetery

I took a ride through the cemetery this morning.  At the back corner, there were 5 mourning doves sitting on the ground with a ground squirrel close by.  The mourning doves took off quickly, squeaking as they flew off.  The squirrel took refuge on this little branch and waited for me to move along.

The crabapple (?) trees were still enticing flocks of robins.  A flock of starlings was making a big ruckus in a nearby maple tree, and occasionally one would come over to the fruit tree and fight off a robin or two for its chance at a piece of fruit.  Wish I had a recording of all the bird sounds taking place in these two trees.

 European Starling

American Robin

I love it when I catch them with the fruit in their beaks!   Otherwise, not a very fascinating bird day.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mixed Bag

Northern Mockingbird
What a funny face!

Breakneck Hill Road - Southboro, MA

Mute Swans
Farm Pond, Framingham, MA

This past spring, I counted 44 mute swans at Farm Pond.  Now that there are offspring from those 44, I need to record a new population count.  Stay tuned.  It appears as if the mute swans have taken over the water on the north side of the causeway and the other waterfowl (ring-necked ducks, Canada geese and Hooded Mergansers) are using the water on the south side. 

 Ring-necked Ducks

Hooded Mergansers (excluding top left)

The gulls were holding a town meeting on the causeway.


I received an email from Alan M., president of The Forbush Bird Club with details identifying the above gulls.  I want to add it here, since I find gulls very confusing.  It definitely helps clear things up!  Thanks, Alan!

Alan wrote:  While the vast majority of gulls in that picture are Ring-billed Gulls, the large brownish gull near the center front and the other brownish (a little lighter) one further back are sub-adult Herring Gulls. 
It takes Herring gulls 4 years to attain their familiar gray coloration. They start out kind of darkish brown and get lighter each year.
The two large gulls way back, with the black backs are Great Black-backed Gulls.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Birding without Photographic Evidence

I decided to avoid post-Thanksgiving weekend traffic and stay local, so I took a walk at Mass Audubon's Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary in Natick.  There were quite a few mallards in the marsh and I also saw one female wood duck among them.  I walked on Old Orchard Trail without seeing much bird activity, although I heard one American Goldfinch flying off in the distance.  It was a very windy day, so that was probably keeping most of the birds in hiding.  As I neared Wildlife Pond, I saw American Crows flying east to west over the pond in groups of about twenty.  Overall, I think there were 120+ crows in flight.  I didn't see any birds in the pond at all.  I decided to take the trail on the other side of the pond back to the nature center.  Once I passed the houses and got back into the woodsy area, there was an area of thicket where I decided to stop and see what showed up, if anything.  I waited as a few other hikers passed through.

This area seemed to be protected from the winds.  It was like I had found the "zone".  Immediately, I saw several Tufted Titmice and Black-capped Chickadees, about a dozen Red-Breasted Nuthatches, and two or three White Breasted Nuthatches.  I wish you could have heard the nuthatches.  Their sound is so cute, and it was repeating all around me.  There was also a small wren.  The best thing was a Fox Sparrow, rummaging in the leaves next to the trail.  A Golden-Crowned Kinglet and a Red-Bellied Woodpecker topped it all off.  I snapped wonderful photos of all of these birds, many from very close up, and couldn't wait to look at them and select from them for my blog.

I turned on the camera, connected it to the computer, and found nothing but my photos from this morning's walk at Tower Hill Botanic Garden.  I am crushed.  The Fox Sparrow was a life bird, and I so wanted the proof!

So, here are my two photos from Tower Hill.

I need to find out why my camera isn't reliably saving photos.  This has now happened three times.  I think at the very least I am able to save only if I completely clear the card before taking any new photos.  I was able to look through all of the above photos while I was on the trail.  So how and when do they disappear?  So sad....

 Red-Tailed Hawk

White-Throated Sparrow

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Jane's Backyard Birds

We spent Thanksgiving with my sister-in-law in Pennsylvania.  Here are some of her backyard birds.

White-throated Sparrow

Turkey Vulture

Turkey vulture eating the turkey carcass

 Red-Breasted Nuthatch

 Carolina Wren

American Crow

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Birding at Farm Pond

I decided the temps were sufficiently cold enough (50 degrees) to brave going back to Farm Pond with no fear of seeing public displays of (ahem) affection in the park like I witnessed last time.  I love Farm Pond, with all its wildlife right smack dab in the middle of downtown Framingham.  For a stop so close to home, it offers a wonderful nature walk within my lunch hour.

It was a wonderful stop, filled with bright sunshine, blue waters, sparkly reflections, and a nice variety of birds.

Hooded Merganser

Right away, I spotted one of my favorite birds, the hooded merganser.  There are actually two in this picture - one at the top center, and the other which I have circled.  They were pretty far out on the water.  I decided to walk out on the causeway to see whether I might get a closer look.

Song Sparrow (I think - my confidence in sparrows is low)

 Ring-Necked Ducks
(just a few -- and this wasn't even all of them!)

Great Blue Heron

Once I spotted all those Ring-Necked Ducks, I hurried across the causeway to get closer before they all swam across the water.  As I neared them, I noticed a wonderful Great Blue Heron fishing right at the edge of the causeway.  He actually let me get quite close before he finally lost patience and flew off.

Cleared for Take Off

When I turned around to head back, I loved the sun shining through the plants on the sides of the causeway with the water sparkling behind them.

I included this last photo because it shows the ring-necked ducks pretty well.  The female is to the left of the Canada goose, with a male behind her and another male to the right of the goose.

Sunrise at Hopkinton State Park

The sky looked promising this morning, so instead of going to the cemetery, I headed over to Hopkinton State Park, my favorite place to catch a sunrise.  It was 32 degrees.

Canada geese

Dark-eyed Junco