Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Charles River Peninsula

Charles River Peninsula, originally uploaded by oehlkers.

Sometimes you want to explore new places. Sometimes you want to walk the same path over and over. The Charles River Peninsula is endlessly rewarding. Today: rabbits, a red squirrel, and a groundhog (hole).I also caught this titmouse duet (I think I'm responsible for scaring the close one off near the end)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Charles River Peninsula

Charles River Peninsula, originally uploaded by oehlkers.

A dark, overcast day with sudden flashes of yellow and blue. I was greeted by a large flock of yellow-rumps near the property entrance and saw the bluebirds again, flying away. (They remain very skittish). The catbirds are back. And I captured the song of something that sounded like a song sparrow with a sore throat [UPDATE: Savannah Sparrow, probably].

Saturday, April 26, 2008


A rare day South Shore side. I had a couple of hours between birthday party drop-off and pick-up to spend in Weymouth. First stop, Great Esker Park. A nice mix of hilly woodland trails and saltwater marsh. Egrets, cormorants, and surprisingly active horseshoe crabs in the marsh areas. It was low tide so I was able to make it across the "reverse waterfall" gap in the trail without much trouble. I advise sticking to the southern trail loop--the northern area functions as an apparent teen party hangout. After walking the eskers, I had little time left so I drove up to the coast and walked through the exceedingly well-groomed Webb Memorial Park.

Friday, April 25, 2008

I'm concerned about this titmouse

The battle for territorial rights to our neighborhood was pretty brutal this year for the titmice. This male emerged as the victor, but not without some apparent damage.

No giving up for this little guy. He just keeps coming back to the feeder, twisted neck and all.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Rocky Woods

Rocky Woods, originally uploaded by oehlkers.

An afternoon to saunter through the boulder-strewn forest of Rocky Woods. A hot afternoon (in the upper 80s). I hadn't realized how much climbing would be required and how many rewarding vistas there would be (some actually trail-labeled, "VISTA").

Wildlife was relatively scarce (hiding from the intense sun, no doubt), except for the little chipping sparrows, who were pleasant company--trilling from the treetops and hopping up the trails in front of me.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pegan Hill

Pegan Hill, originally uploaded by oehlkers.

Took a walk through Pegan Hill on the Natick-Dover line this afternoon. There is a path that runs up and down the hill through the woods but the real interest is on the edges of the property. Pegan Hill Lane, which is the western boundary of the property is, contrary to Google Maps, not a through street but a semi-private road to some rather nice estates.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Charles River Peninsula

I'm making it a Sunday habit to wander through the meadows of Charles River Peninsula. It has really turned green over the past week and the bugs are out (I'm dreading the mosquito season--the ticks are bad enough). Scared yet another wood duck. Spent some time listening to the Red-winged Blackbirds pinging to each other. And hung out for a little while with a Yellow-rumped Warbler. (Here's its song--taking turns with a cardinal).

People in the Boston area often complain about our nonexistent springs. We usually rush straight from winter to summer. I must say, though, that we are having a real spring this year, with some of the most gorgeous days I can remember. [And thanks to my Mom for guiding me to the home of her local Red-Bellied Woodpecker yesterday.]

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ridge Hill Reservation (Muir Trail)

Needham's Town Forest is nice but rather civilized (model train sets and cub scouts). Ridge Hill has a wonderful neglected feel. Dog walkers and joggers generally stay to the east, leaving the west for intrepid explorers. The obscure Muir Trail is not well maintained (many fallen trees block the way) and the narrow path means lots of contact with brush along the side (do a tick check!). But lack of humans means the animals have moved in. Especially deer (so many pellets you actually need to watch your step). And something ate a possum and left its teeth and fur on the path. Hidden within the woods, though, is a lovely little pond. And today in the pond, appropriately enough, wood ducks. [I also saw some yesterday at Broadmoor but it's cool to see them in the "real" wild].

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary (Glacial Hill Loop)

Broadmoor is a local treasure, a relatively small but rather varied nature sanctuary. Kid-sized (and kid-populated). The Glacial Hill Trail (towards the loop) and the Charles River Loop are generally less traveled than most of the area. Saw some lovely Palm Warblers (sound), some Wood Ducks and a Hermit Thrush on my walk today.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Ravenswood Park (Magnolia Swamp Trail)

I visited the very civilized Ravenswood Park in Gloucester this afternoon. Mostly wide, well-drained paths with a lot of use (particularly dog walkers). I preferred the Magnolia Swamp Trail, through the low land, strewn with interesting rock formations. Ravenswood reminds me of a garden. A large planting of mountain laurels here, ferns growing on top of boulders there. The wild life is varied. Instead of the common nuthatch, gray squirrel, robin experience--brown creeper, red squirrel, and something that looked like a vireo. And really loud woodpeckers.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Foggy Sunday morning at the Charles River Peninsula

Charles River Peninsula, originally uploaded by oehlkers.

Fog covered the river and meadow this morning. The swallows are back. Scared a pileated woodpecker and a great blue heron--at least I got to see them flying away! The robins are fighting--great displays of precision dogfighting. And I captured a taste of the morning bird concert (a chorus including white-throated and song sparrow, cardinal, red-wing blackbird, blue jay, robin and others).

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Millennium Park (Blue Heron Trail)

Took a walk on the eastern part of the Blue Heron Trail, starting in Millennium Park and ending at Wells St in Newton. A gorgeous day. Lots of song sparrows singing away. Chickadee fee-bee choruses.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pine Island (Blue Heron Trail)

Pine Island (Blue Heron Trail), originally uploaded by oehlkers.

On Wednesday, I decided to explore the Dedham side of the Blue Heron Trail, starting at the Great Plain parking lot. I can't recommend it. There is a huge mud puddle to start. Then the trail breaks at the "Long Ditch" and you have to walk on a heavily traveled road over a narrow bridge. Pine Island, along the way, sounds tranquil but is apparently a gang hangout. The trunks of trees on the trail are tagged with spray paint and there is a concrete structure at the tip of the island that is just covered with graffiti. An unusual thing to find in the woods. Pine Island (Blue Heron Trail)
But the birds were enjoying the good weather. Got my first real ear-full of song sparrows this spring and the goldfinches were singing like crazy.

Lower Cutler Park (Blue Heron Trail)

Cutler Park (Blue Heron Trail), originally uploaded by oehlkers.

Lily and I parked at the lower end of Cutler Park on Sunday evening and set out to look for "amimules" but we had to turn around when it started to rain hard. I convinced her to return the following evening. The spring peepers were out in full force.

Cutler Park (Blue Heron Trail)

Cutler Park (Blue Heron Trail), originally uploaded by oehlkers.

This week was Blue Heron Trail week. I'd never really explored much beyond Cutler Pond, so I took some time to hike through the woods in Cutler Park. I made it around Powell's Island and decided to turn back. Lots of joggers and mountain bikers--a very popular set of trails.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Birds at my house

Mourning Dove , originally uploaded by oehlkers.

This mourning dove's been hanging out recently on my window feeder. Content just to sit there. And tonight the neighborhood starling/grackle party came to my yard. Gotta love it. (Documented here).

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Charles River Peninsula

Charles River Peninsula, originally uploaded by oehlkers.

I'm being drawn back again and again to the Charles River Peninsula. It's a little more populated now--a father and son fishing, a group of guilty-looking teens. Maybe it's the prospect of hearing bobolinks later in the spring. Tonight I spotted a pair of skittish bluebirds. I brought my hand-held recorder to capture some of the ambiance. Here's a 3 minute long taste. You'll have to crank it, and the airplane/road sounds are loud, but I think it is a nice (if slightly subdued) sample of the usual grackle/redwing/blue jay (and in this case a scolding squirrel) cacophony that reigns down there. The song and white throated sparrows were out but I didn't hear them singing.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Chase Woodlands and Peters Reservation

Peters Reservation, originally uploaded by oehlkers.

If you are seeking isolation and the chance to see active wildlife, I recommend the paired Trustees of Reservations properties, Chase Woodlands and Peters Reservation in Dover. The trails are not that well marked and large chunks of the Chase property are closed for "restoration" but bird-life (spotted yet another Eastern Phoebe), frog-life, and snake-life (pictured) abounds. I scared a deer on my way out, its white tail flashing. And I found a deer tick crawling up my leg.
I also heard something delightful on my walk (recorded here, though you have to listen hard through the wind noise). A pair of chickadees fee-beeing, starting on different notes (as far as I can tell, A-G, C-Bflat)