Monday, June 9, 2014

Barn Swallows at Hopkinton State Park

I was in the mood for a change of scenery, so I spent my lunch at Hopkinton State Park.  I was very impressed by the variety of nature I saw in such a short period of time, so I am jokingly referring to it as my "Big Biodiversity Lunch Hour".

The building by the lower beach is very popular with nesting Barn Swallows.  There were at least 10 nests.  A pair of Barn Swallows also looked to be building a nest in yet another somewhat less horizontal spot.  It's a very busy location, and beach-goers had better be prepared to be strafed by birds when visiting the bathroom!  A pair of Tree Swallows were attempting to nest there as well, and the Barn Swallows joined together in an effort to run them off.

Barn Swallow on nest

I believe these two are building.  Might be a tricky spot!

Silver-Spotted Skipper
diving in!

 Common Ringlet

Beach rose
(Rosa rugosa)

 Blue-Eyed Grass

 Peck's Skipper


Although it never got too excited, I had the distinct impression that this Killdeer was intentionally leading me down the beach.  It played hide-n-seek with me a few times, dropping low into the sand.  I watched for eggs but never saw any.

again - settling into a depression in the sand


Tadpoles were all along the shore.  I didn't walk the actual "beach", but I now wonder if the swimmers were having to pass through them to get in the water.

 Canada geese
(These are the same goslings I had photographed earlier this spring, teenagers already!

 Common Grackle
in the spillway

 Baltimore Oriole
another spillway bird

 Spotted Sandpiper
ditto in the spillway

Double-Crested Cormorant

I did make my way over to Breakneck Hill Conservation Land before work (wouldn't you miss it otherwise?), albeit for a shortened walk because I had to water my newly planted vegetable garden first!  The sun wasn't out, there was little breeze to speak of, and the black flies were absolutely at their worst, swarming in a cloud around my head the entire time.  The birds were nice, though, and I saw my first juvenile Eastern Bluebirds of the year.  The light was awful for bird photos, but it was pretty enough for landscape views.

 #82 didn't like the swarming flies either

 American Goldfinch

 juvenile Eastern Bluebird

 European Starling

 White Campion

Eastern Kingbird

This Eastern Kingbird was busy chasing all the Eastern Bluebirds and American Goldfinches off of any tree he considered part of his territory.  

 juvenile Eastern Bluebird

 Eastern Bluebird

Tree Swallow birdhouse

I wanted to include this last photo so I could tell you about the poor Tree Swallows that set up housekeeping in this box (2nd one in from parking lot on the hill).  They were doing fine until the shrub grew up so tall right in front of the opening.  I have watched the poor swallows fly towards the house 2-3 times in a row, only to have to back away and try again.  They just can't make it in and they don't seem to want to stop on a branch first.  They seem to need to make a direct entrance.  Interesting to watch them struggle.  Should humans intervene under these circumstances to cut the offending branches away?  In addition to making the box more accessible to the parents, it would also be safer from predators not to have the branches growing so close to the box.  So far, though, they are making it in spite of this additional headache!


  1. Some of those views remind me of the South Downs Way. And I've always loved those beach roses.

    1. It really is pretty at BHCL. If you could just erase the sounds of the Mass Pike, it's easy enough to imagine you're in Europe.