Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bluebirds! Season 4. Episode 1.

Eastern Bluebird on box, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Last season was a heart-breaker, with abandoned nests, murdered birds, and smashed boxes. Zero bluebirds fledged.
Eastern Bluebird couple, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
This season is starting strong. Three distinct bluebird pairs. Plus one apparently unpaired male, advertising loudly from the treetops.
Eastern Bluebird male, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Some are already claiming boxes.
Eastern Bluebird couple, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Others just hanging out.
House Sparrow, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
But all is not well in the land of the bluebirds... [melodramatic organ sounds]

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The soul comes rushing back in

Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
First, woodpeckers. Downies going at it, red-bellies noisily calling, even a hairy made a rare CRP appearance. And then the unmistakable holler of the pileated.
Pileated Woodpecker, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
I seem to be a pileated magnet this winter, with good luck last month at Ridge Hill. And this is the third time I've seen them at the CRP in the last year, so they are no longer an unexpected presence. Today there were two. Couldn't tell if they were courting or fighting. A large gang of blue jays were giving them a hard time.
Eastern Bluebird, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
I was actually down there for the bluebirds, who have just begun to gather. The Trustees have installed a few more boxes to replace those vandalized last summer. Time to put my nest box monitoring hat back on.
Eastern Bluebird, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Meanwhile, it is snow bluebird time. I hope there's a healthy stash of berries somewhere....
Common mergansers, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
The Charles River is opening up and ducks are passing through. Had ten or so common mergansers in one group. And I was delighted to see a pair of green-winged teals, a patch bird for me!
Green-winged Teal, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
On my way out, the first large group of blackbirds I'd seen this year. The CRP resounded with the songs of red-winged blackbirds. Spring is here.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Ice Ducks, or Access

Distant great blue heron, with common mergansers. Charles River from Cutler Park, Needham, MA
It takes extra motivation to go out and take a walk on a cold winter morning but usually half way through I'm glad I did. It wasn't happening for me at Cutler on Sunday. No birds, treacherous icy trails and cold gloomy weather. When I got to the end of the railroad track-side trail and saw a heron and a dozen mergansers far in the distance I figured that was as good as it would get.
Ditch-side Willow
Then I looked down along "the ditch" at my favorite winter-time Cutler scene--the gnarled old willow on the riverbank--and realized that there was actually a path in the ice and snow running along side it. Probably, I guessed, all the way to the Blue Heron Trail in Dedham. I was right.
The Ditch
After all these years, a new path through Cutler. The snow and ice had revealed it and made it possible to access a new area and see Cutler from a new perspective.
Hooded Mergansers, The Ditch
With closer views of mergansers, "ice ducks," I will call them in honor of an old folk name. 
Ditch-side swing, probably not authorized by the DCR
Apparently I was not the first to discover this route. Maybe I'll try it again in the summer....