Birds are the life of the skies, and when they fly, they reveal the thoughts of the skies.
Birds, Beasts and Flowers, D. H. Lawrence
At the end of the last entry, we were awaiting the results of several nests in the area. Spring migration was past and the arrival of the young birds in these nests was the next phase of the summer. We were watching a Baltimore Oriole nest at the Mystic Lakes and a Warbling Vireo,
Warbling Vireo nest, Mount Auburn Cemetery. Photo by John Harrison
Red-bellied Woodpecker nest, Mount Auburn Cemetery. Photo by John Harrison
Northern Flicker, Baltimore Oriole, Robins, and Red-tailed Hawk nest at Mount Auburn Cemetery (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjOSayHM5ew Baltimore Oriole nest), (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvrwLygtlh4 Warbling Vireo nest ), (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvMjMnKcESE Red-bellied Woodpecker nest) All of these nests were successful and we were able to watch the parents coming in on a regular basis to feed the young. This was especially exciting for the Warbling Vireo and Red-bellied Woodpecker nest at Mount Auburn. We would watch for an hour at a time and catch repeated trips in by the adults to feed the young. Every year at Mount Auburn we are fortunate to have a nesting Red-tailed Hawk pair and this year’s nest has progressed nicely. We did lose one of the three Red-tail chicks, however, which was sad. It was found below the nest. We don’t know if it fell out of the nest or if there was another issue, but the remaining two chicks are in good shape and have only just fledged. There have been quite a few wild turkeys and a little army of poults. I counted about fifteen of these little turkey chicks recently as the mother turkey led them through tall grass.
Turkey Poults, Mount Auburn Cemetery. Photos by John Harrison
These poults are almost defenseless from predators. They are easy prey for Red-tailed Hawks that swoop down and grab them. A woman walking at Willow Pond reported watching a mink come from the pond and take one of the poults and run back to the pond. The adult turkeys are hard pressed to protect their charges from such ambushes, which is why they spend lots of time walking in the tall grass which hides the poults to some extent. (https://www.youtube.com/watch? H21pdrpXJbs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jo630AGyelg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsGot7Furwo Wild Turkeys)
Ipswich River Audubon has been exciting, as it always is. We had good luck watching the beavers until a few weeks ago. Suddenly we stopped seeing them. One of the staff explained to us that the beavers were taking care of their new born and would be out on the pond with the young ones as soon as they were ready. We are looking forward to that. But Ipswich River being such a great habitat, there is always much to see. At the boardwalk bridge near the beaver lodge we have had several quick visits by a mink. On three occasions the mink walked right by us with a big fish in its mouth.
Minks, Ipswich River Audubon, Topsfield, MA. Photos by John Harrison
Two of the three fish were catfish. The mink wasn’t particularly afraid of us and it walked by us on the boardwalk getting within a couple of feet of us. We expect that the mink was bringing the fish to feed young. We are of course hoping that early some morning that mink will march some little minks along the boardwalk for us to see. We’re not counting on this but at Ipswich River Audubon this is certainly possible. On one morning we watched a big old snapping turtle climb from the top of the beaver lodge down to the bridge and then plop into the pond (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAeta_5lU-A https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4n0AcWdJEzs Snapping Turtle)
On one Saturday morning as we were exploring at the pond, a couple of Common Yellowthroat Warbler adults and juveniles were flitting around the trees and shrubbery giving us great opportunities to photograph them on open branches, sometimes with dragonflies in their beaks.
Common Yellowthroat Juvenile, Ipswich River Audubon, Topsfield, MA. Photo by Kim Nagy.
Common Yellowthroat Adult, Ipswich River Audubon, Topsfield, MA. Photo by Kim Nagy.
Obviously the yellowthroats nest at Ipswich River. We see Yellow Warblers in that area, too, so this
species is probably nesting there, too.
Yellow Warbler, Ipswich River Audubon, Topsfield, MA. Photo by John Harrison.
In addition to this, the mulberry tree in the reserve parking lot has ripe fruit so the tree is alive with Cedar waxwings (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53DLF5WDQBM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJ3Q2ABbxuQ Cedar Waxwings )
Cedar Waxwing, Ipswich River Audubon, Topsfield, MA. Photo by Kim Nagy.
Red-bellied Woodpecker, Ipswich River Audubon, Topsfield, MA. Photo by Kim Nagy.
Baltimore Orioles and even an occasional visit by a Scarlet Tanager. Last year we saw Scarlet Tanagers a couple of times on the mulberry tree toward the end of the summer. This indicates that this species, too, is nesting at the reserve.
The past few weeks many Black-crowned Night Herons are being seen. There have been many reports of them at the Mystic Lakes and they are also active at the Charles River waterfalls in Watertown. One can sit along the water near the waterfalls and watch the Black-crowned Night herons and Great Blue Herons fish. It is one of the best venues to view these species (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWrXv-JmYyc https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7CfSxGUAFA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SL8Ih7zyEqA Black-crowned Night Herons).
Black-crowned Night Herons, Watertown. Photos by John Harrison
South Medford’s Tufts Park is playing host to a pair of American Kestrels and their two chicks.
American Kestrel Adult, Tufts Park, South Medford, MA. Photo by John Harrison
American Kestrel Chicks, Tufts Park, South Medford, MA. Photo by John Harrison
Kestrels, America’s smallest falcon, are a threatened species. Their numbers are decreasing. To have a nesting pair of them so visible right at Tufts Park is quite a coup for us.
American Kestrel In Flight, Tufts Park, South Medford, MA. Photo by Kim Nagy.
American Kestrel, Tufts Park, South Medford, MA. Photo by Kim Nagy.
I watched them day after day lately and was enthralled to have such access to this skittish species that usually isn’t so accommodating. Often the two chicks would sit side by side on one of the light posts near the baseball diamond (the one closest to Main St.) and pose for me. Fantastic. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ls-u68PC1g https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzQ733YckiU American Kestrels).
As I continue to learn all the time, if you are ‘out there’ often, surprising things happen with regularity. We’re only half way through the summer. I’m sure more surprises await us. Next time we’ll spend some time with our new Mount Auburn Cemetery Red-tailed Hawk fledglings and a delightful Osprey nest in Lynn.
Osprey Father Landing With Fish, Lynn, MA. Photo by John Harrison.