Thursday, April 3, 2014

Wood Ducks at Farm Pond and Beals Preserve

I enjoyed an early morning walk at Farm Pond in Framingham.  It was another beautiful spring morning with blue sky, bright sun, and singing birds.  Just gorgeous.  It makes such a difference to my whole work day to be able to get out and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature beforehand.

As I walked down the hill toward the pond, my first bird sighting was a White-Breasted Nuthatch on the side of one of the trees.

White-Breasted Nuthatch

Then, I heard a Northern Flicker call and as I was moving closer to it, I flushed a Wood Duck out of a tree!  It flew in a big loop and then came back to land in the pond not too far from me.  Seconds later, eight more wood ducks flew in to the same area.   You might not expect to find a duck in a tree, but there are several species in North America that nest in trees, including Wood Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, Common Mergansers, Common Goldeneyes and Buffleheads.

Northern Flicker

Wood Duck

Wood Ducks

Unfortunately, the wood ducks took off before I could get into a location where the light would be better.

distant Ring-Necked Duck pair

 Still enjoying the beauty of reflections....after such a long, icy winter!

The trail to get to the causeway was flooded, and I had to carefully pick my way across.  I don't know if that's why I was alone out there.....most of the time.

Great Blue Heron

(wish the face was sharper)

Song Sparrow
(singing to mark his territory)

Song Sparrow

This was SO beautiful in person.  The photo doesn't really capture it, but I tried!

 Red-Winged Blackbird

Eastern Phoebe
(A good sign of spring because they eat only insects, so must wait to return.)

Red-winged Blackbird
(getting his morning drink)

 Blue Jay
(getting his morning drink)

European Starling

When I returned to the parking lot, two European Starlings were picking through the overflowing trash barrel.  This one came out with an edible orange treat of some sort.

For my lunch break, I walked at Beals Preserve in Southboro.

I wanted to check out a report of some ducks on the far side of the pond near where they placed a transect for surveying amphibians.  I found a pair of mallards and a beautiful male wood duck at that location.  While I watched, I heard a very agitated bird above me in the trees.  I actually thought it was one of the red squirrels, but after searching, I finally located it and was surprised to find it was a Red-Breasted Nuthatch.  They have been few and far between this year.  This was my first sighting (although I did hear one earlier this year)!  Unfortunately, I didn't get a photo because it flew off in a huff before I could.

Wood Duck (male)

I continued along the trail until I reached the main entrance, where the channel runs under the bridge.  Along the trailside near the WHIP area, I saw a pair of Eastern Bluebirds.  The male was actually sitting on the WHIP sign, but I didn't notice until he flew off.

Eastern Bluebird (male)

Song Sparrows were singing on both sides of the trail, as well as along the channel.   Mallards and Canada Geese were either in the channel or resting on the shore.  One pair of Buffleheads swam a little farther east in the channel.

A Red-Tailed Hawk flew over the meadow across from the WHIP.

I watched for Mourning Cloaks here, but didn't see any until I got home and found a small one flying in my backyard!  It was different than the one I saw on April 1st.  This one was about half the size and a lot more tattered around the edges.

Mourning Cloak

I also had a late afternoon Eastern Bluebird (male) appear briefly in the backyard.  I'm happy to know they are still somewhere nearby.  Maybe one day, they'll check out the new house George put up for them!

To cap off the day, I went back to Beals Preserve for an hour at dusk.  I wanted to see if they had American Woodcocks in the habitat designated for them.  There was a sign for American Woodcocks, but I didn't know if they actually had them.  I waited around, watched the sunset, spotted the crescent moon over the meadow and then, promptly at 7:25, the first American Woodcock began peenting.  Soon there were two, and they were both displaying.  One flew over the WHIP habitat area (and was actually right behind the woodcock sign).  The other crossed right over the trail and flew over the open meadow.  Its starting place was near the fallen tree closer to the water.  I wonder if there are more than two?  If I had a flashlight, I would have been able to stay longer and find out!  I heard my first spring peepers at the pond as I was leaving.

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