Tuesday, 20 May 2014

My second spring in Boston.

I arrived in Boston on 20th May after an incredible flight in first class, from Abu Dhabi to New York. It was slightly less memorable on American Airlines, from JFK to Logan Airport in Boston!
 Coming in to land, as one approaches
JFK in New York.

 One forgets that the US is still a very wooded place (unlike the UK)! Coming in to land at JFK, one is greeted by some great coastal scenery & then some nice woodland.
 Barbara was there to meet me & I lost no time in getting a taxi home. The weather was sublime, so I walked to Mount Auburn Cemetery. What a difference six weeks makes! Today, all the trees were in leaf & many also in bloom. It was great to simply walk around birding in the afternoon sunshine.
 View over Boston from the base of the Tower.
 The entrance to Mount Auburn Cemetery.

 The bird list was quite good to say that I was walking around like a zombie after a long flight!
Best birds: 4 Chimney Swift; Hairy Woodpecker; Northern Flicker; 2 Warbling Vireo; 2 Swainson's Thrush; 10 Grey Catbird; Magnolia Warbler; 3 Yellow- rumped Warbler; Canada Warbler;  Wilson's Warbler; 5 Baltimore Oriole; 4 Brown - headed Cowbird & American Goldfinch.
There was a fire in a building nearby here in Belmont, the fire trucks with their sirens woke us up! I of course was wide awake because of the time zone difference, so I got up early & visited Mount Auburn Cemetery again on 21st May. The weather was again wonderful, but I wasn't prepared for what greeted me - around 30 birders were wandering around the place! This is apparently normal in May, which is peak migration period. Most observers work the area before work, very few if any, visiting in the afternoon. Birding was not as good as yesterday, but still a few notables were noted: Great Blue Heron; 2 Eastern Phoebe; 2 Eastern Kingbird; 3 Warbling Vireo; Blackpoll Warbler; American Redstart; Ovenbird; Common Yellowthroat & 5 Baltimore Oriole.
I then walked to Clay Pit Pond & saw a fine singing male American Redstart & a Willow Flycatcher.
 One of the small, well wooded ponds,
just off the main lake.

Fresh Pond - and no ice in sight!

 A circumnavigation of Fresh Pond was quite productive: Green Heron; Osprey; Eastern Kingbird; 5 Warbling Vireo; 10 Tree Swallow; Yellow Warbler; Savannah Sparrow; 2 Song Sparrow; 3 Baltimore Oriole & 10+ American Goldfinch.
I now had to retreat back home, the crack in my foot had opened up & was painful. I had to rest for a bit. It really is a large gash & both souls of my feet are in a terrible state, after the wet weather in China & Taiwan.
I woke at 5.30 am. Today was 22nd May & I knew it was going to be a memorable day, because this is the day my new mega lens was due to arrive! But first, I went birding, as I knew the lens  wouldn't arrive until late morning. I walked to Mount Auburn Cemetery again & met eight like minded souls for the early morning bird walk. The local birding club arranges this every day in May & very enjoyable it was too. Birding was slow & steady, many of the migrants having moved on. However, it was good to talk to the local birders & slowly species fell into our notebooks. Best birds were:
2 Great Blue Heron; 5 Red-tailed Hawk (3 adults & two quite large chicks in a nest); 23 Chimney Swift; 2 Eastern Phoebe (now nesting under the small bridge near one of the ponds); 4 Eastern Kingbird; 2 Warbling Vireo; 2 House Wren; 2 Blue Grey Gnatcatcher; 10+ Grey Catbird; 2 American Redstart; Northern Waterthrush; a fine adult male Scarlet Tanager; 2 Rose-breasted Grosbeak & 4 Baltimore Oriole. But perhaps the biggest surprise of the morning, was a Wild Turkey walking around! How did that get here? We are in the middle of a large city! I also climbed the Tower for the first time (it was closed earlier in the year) & what a view greeted me! Well worth the effort & a good vantage point for flyovers.
I arrived home close to 11 am & within minutes, the UPS parcel guy was delivering my new lens! What superb timing! To give you some idea of my excitement, click on the link below:
Scroll down until you get to the unboxing video. It is well worth watching & is exactly how I felt!
I unboxed it & naturally wanted to try it out straight away, so I walked back to Mount Auburn in steadily darkening skies & as soon as I entered the gates, the heavens opened & I spent the next hour sheltering from the rain. It didn't look good, so I walked back home. A complete waste of time. I still haven't taken a photo. It is killing me!
23rd May & I looked out the window, it was dull & overcast! Not the conditions I would have wished for testing out my new lens! Arrived at Mount Auburn Cemetery & it looked like it would rain.
 Female Northern Cardinal.
 American Robin.
 Brown-headed Cowbird.
 Eastern Phoebe.
 House Sparrow collecting caterpillars
to feed its young.
 Common Grackle
 Grey Catbird.
All photos taken at ISO1600, because of poor light.

But I plodded on & eventually met three ladies birding. One was a relative newcomer, but the other two were much more experienced & knew the calls of the migrant warblers. In short order we recorded quite a few species, some of which I wouldn't have picked up on my own. They were a fun group & we had a good chat as we birded the area. They left, but I stayed on for another three hours. Best birds of the day:
Double-crested Cormorant; Wild Turkey; 7 Chimney Swift; Red-bellied Woodpecker; Downy Woodpecker; 2 Eastern Phoebe; 3 Warbling Vireo; Veery; 3 Black-throated Green Warbler; Blackpoll Warbler; Black & White Warbler; 2 American Redstart; Common Yellowthroat & 3 Baltimore Oriole.
The 28th was a horrid day for weather. I woke early with the intention of going to Mount Auburn Cemetery, but quickly turned around as the heavens opened. There was persistent drizzle for most of the morning & it became very cold, for this time of year. I stayed home to catch up on my blog from the weekend. In the evening Barbara & I went to the From The Top & Music For Food concert at Brown Hall, New England Conservatory. It was young musicians playing & the standard was very high. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening for a good cause. Check out their website for more of what they do & try to achieve: https://www.fromthetop.org/content/music-food-and-top-benefit-concert
The 29th was the exact opposite of the previous day, a wonderfully sunny & warm morning, just like spring in Boston should be! I decided to visit Fresh Pond & it was a thoroughly enjoyable walk around with some nice birds on show.
One of the small lakes just off Fresh Pond.
 What a change from the ice bound scene in March!

 Downy Woodpecker feeding young.

I first found this nest at the end of March, when the pair were still excavating the hole. Nice to see that they have chicks to feed just a few weeks later.
 Tree Swallows using nest boxes
 has been a huge success
 There are at least six boxes in use
 around Fresh Pond.
Adult leaving the nest. Not quite a fast enough
shutter speed to capture the bird properly.
 Male Brown-headed Cowbird
Female Brown-headed Cowbird.
 Male Yellow Warbler coming down for a drink.
Warbling Vireo, warbling!
Best birds: 2 Double-crested Cormorant; 85+ American Herring Gull; 2 Downy Woodpecker; 2 Northern Flicker; Willow Flycatcher; Eastern Kingbird; 6 Warbling Vireo; 12 Tree Swallow; 5 Yellow Warbler; Pine Warbler; 8 Red-winged Blackbird & 7 American Goldfinch.
Up early on the 30th, to catch the bus/train combination to Concord. I was visiting Great Meadows Wildfowl Refuge again. Today, the weather was superb, as I hiked from the train station. I walked all the trails, as none were underwater today & the scenery looked great.
 Please notice the blue sky & lack of ice & snow!

 The beautiful river, at the back of the reserve.
Timber trail - just one of several, well marked trails
 through the reserve.
Best birds: 7 Double-crested Cormorant; 20+ Great Blue Heron; Wood Duck; Virginia Rail; Eastern Wood Pewee; 2 Willow Flycatcher; Alder Flycatcher; 2 Baltimore Oriole & Rose-breasted Grosbeak.
 A horribly back lit Great Blue Heron!
 This male Canada Goose was guarding goslings,
but I couldn't get them in the same shot!
 A sign that summer is on the way!
 Virginia Rail - lucky or what?
  Male Red-winged Blackbird.
 Song Sparrow

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