Friday, July 15, 2016

Bluebirds! Season 6. Episode 10. Season Finale

Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA after July mow.
Suddenly summer is almost over. By next week all the boxes at CRP will be empty of nestlings. Then it will be the clean-up and long wait for next year.
Eastern Bluebird nestlings, Charles River Peninsula, July 9
The second bluebird nest is moving along quickly.
Eastern Bluebird nestlings, Charles River Peninsula, July 15
Today my first legitimate bluebird dive bomb. It was so bluebird--an elegant swoop from an upper tree branch towards my head. I get it, bluebird. It has been a lot of work to keep these chicks alive. 
Tree Swallow fledgling, Box 19
Meanwhile the tree swallows are all fledged or on the verge of fledging. 
Tree Swallows, Box 11
I imagine the parents will be mighty relieved when these hungry mouths can fend for themselves. 
Tree Swallow, Box 19
Some of the tree swallow families can be seen zooming around the peninsula. Some seem to have already moved on to staging areas. 
Downy Woodpecker
See you next year, bluebirds et al. And yes, downy woodpecker, it's safe to explore these boxes now.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Willets of Wellfleet

Willet, Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Wellfleet, MA
Mid-June isn't the best time to see birds in Wellfleet, I was told.
Willet, Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Wellfleet, MA
By mid-June spring migration is over.
Willet, Coast Guard Beach, Eastham, Ma
And the mid-summer southern migration of shorebirds hasn't yet begun.
Willets, Provincetown breakwater, Provincetown, MA
So you are left with the local breeders.
Willet, Provincetown breakwater, Provincetown, MA
Such as towhees, field sparrows, and prairie warblers (!)
Willet, Provincetown breakwater, Provincetown, MA
And willets. They may not be beautiful or musical but they certainly liven up a place.
Yellowlegs. Greater? Provincetown breakwater, Provincetown, MA
And what you see (and hear) is what you get.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Bluebirds! Season 6. Episode 9. Empty boxes and refills

Tree Swallows, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Last week the bluebirds and chickadees fledged. This week it is the tree swallows' turn.
Box 1. Tree swallow nest with chickadee base.
Leaving empty boxes requiring clean out.
Box 2. New Eastern Bluebird attempt.
Meanwhile, bluebirds have begun round 2 in box 2. Box 11 was snatched by tree swallows before the other bluebird pair could start again.
Box 12. Full of sticks.
In gloomier news, the tree swallow that was so stalwart in protecting its nest in box 12 last episode, finally succumbed to house wren stick mania. And the chickadees finally gave up on their next in box 14 (box 4 chickadees, a tiny clutch of 2, managed to fledge).
Box 13
And unpopular box 13, unused for the second year in a row, may finally be completely covered in multiflora rose this year.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Some June mornings

Foggy morning at Powisset Farm, Dover, MA
Grassland bird monitoring at Powisset Farm.
Tree Swallow, Powisset Farm
Just two bobolinks singing this year.
Tree Swallow, Powisset Farm
June bonus yellow-billed cuckoo song.
Wild Turkey families, Powisset Farm
Hidden turkeys.
Great-crested Flycatcher, Chestnut Hill Farm, Southborough, MA
Grassland bird monitoring at Chestnut Hill Farm. 12 bobolinks. Much better.
Hooded Merganser, Great Meadows NWR, Concord, MA
An early morning stroll at Great Meadows.
Hooded Merganser, Great Meadows NWR, Concord, MA
I wonder if we'll see baby hoodies this year.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Bluebirds! Season 6. Episode 8. Satisfaction.

Box 2, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
The first bluebird broods have fledged.
Box 11, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
I pulled out the nests to give them a place to try again. But halfway through, this breeding season is already a success. Two broods of bluebirds fledged.
Box 12, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Tree swallow eggs are beginning to hatch. And the birds with smashed eggs last week are determined not to let it happen again. 
Box 4, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Chickadee eggs are hatching too. Two new eggs in the second chickadee nest.
Box 17, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
The house wrens have found empty spaces to fill with sticks. And there are no house sparrows anywhere. From here on out, barring catastrophic weather or vandalism, things should run smoothly. My job this spring is just about done.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Bluebirds! Season 6. Episode 7. Brave birds and egg smashers.

Tree swallow, Box 7, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Breeding continues at Charles River Peninsula and tree swallows are getting bolder and bolder, less quick to fly away when approached (making for nice super close up photos like the one above)
Tree Swallows, Box 5
and moving decisively into house sparrow territory. I finally pulled out the nest in Box 5 after house sparrows retook it earlier in the week. The very next day tree swallows took over and the sparrows have vanished, at least for the moment.
Tree Swallow on nest, Box 1
Three weeks in a row I've been unable to count the eggs in Box 1 because the female has been on the nest and hasn't budged. Today I saw the pair outside the box--this was my chance! But before I could get there the female, seeing me and apparently knowing my patterns, flew into the box and sat on the eggs before I could get there. Note that most birds leave the box when I approach. I've never had one deliberately enter the box when I've come near. Remarkable.
Smashed Tree Swallow egg in Box 12
Though given the recent rash of egg disappearances at CRP, she might have the right idea. Three boxes with eggs last week had zero eggs this week, including the usually unproblematic box 12. The lovely eggs featured in Episode 6 are all gone, except for one smashed into the white feathers lining the nest.
Eastern Bluebird nestlings
The neighboring bluebirds are too busy feeding their partially feathered chicks to bother with this kind of thing and the house wrens are way on the other side of the property. I'm beginning to suspect chipmunks. Indeed...perhaps chipmunks will be the ultimate Bluebirds! villains.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Bluebirds! Season 6. Episode 6. Twenty Boxes.

Boxes 18 and 19, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Charles River Peninsula now has a full set of twenty nesting boxes. New boxes: 3, 15, 18, 19, 20. Tree swallows immediately nested in box 18. Six eggs within a week.
Box 12
Nest box ownership has stabilized. House sparrows are only at one box (9). Bluebird boxes now have feathered chicks. And most of the tree swallow boxes have eggs.
Black-capped Chickadee, Box 4
To my delight, the chickadees have held on to two boxes, tenaciously outlasting tree swallow competitors.
White feathers at base of box 16
The only intrigue at present: white feathers mysteriously scattered around the base of box 16. Either the result of a careless human who opened the box on a gusty day. OR
House Wren, Box 20
Perhaps the newly arrived house wrens know something about it....
Warbling Vireo nest, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
In other CRP news: first bobolink. But no kestrel for about a week. And I know where you're nesting, warbling vireos....

Friday, May 6, 2016

Bluebirds! Season 6. Episode 5. Chickadee problems.

Eastern Bluebird, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
What a dismal week. I delayed box checking because the weather was just too cold and wet. Meanwhile, migration has been slow. But the two bluebird boxes with eggs continue.
Box 4
Meanwhile, you may remember me discovering a bona fide chickadee nest in a previous post. And jokingly wondering if a tree swallow would build over it. Well, it appears I called it. When I felt for eggs in the box, I felt a couple of hard lumps under matted fur--chickadee eggs unlikely to ever hatch...
Box 14
Meanwhile, on the other side of the property, a house sparrow-turned tree swallow nest now has a topping of fur and moss. I actually saw chickadees exploring this box earlier in the week. I told them they were crazy. But we can wait and see....

Box 9
And last week's scene of contention between bluebirds and tree swallows has attracted the unwelcome attention of house sparrows, driven once and for all, apparently, from box 7. The bluebirds seem to have given up. There is an unfinished tree swallow nest in the box. And a dead tree swallow near box 8. Another one. I'm going to point fingers at the house sparrows this time.
American Kestrel, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
In other news, our resident kestrel, still without a mate, remains a daily presence at the peninsula.
American Kestrel (left) v. Red-tailed Hawk (right)
While it is usually on the receiving end of mobbing birds, I enjoy watching it dive-bombing larger raptors.
Red-tailed Hawk v. Red-winged Blackbird
Even if it's not the one who eventually drives them off.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Late April in Needham

Charles River, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
It is almost May, time for the main event, but this last week in April has been pretty nice around these parts.
Palm Warbler, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Birds and blossoms.
Orchard Oriole, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Blossoms and birds.
American Kestrel, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
And a poor kestrel bothered relentlessly by blue jays.
Great Egret, Rosemary "Lake," Needham, MA
Meanwhile, Rosemary Lake is a mud flat for what might be the very last time. 
Yellowlegs and Mallard, Rosemary "Lake," Needham, MA
The DEP may not let the town drain it again and if it does there will be a dredging operation instead of a feeding zone for yellowlegs, herons and egrets.