Awaiting The Elites….Blackburnians, Cape Mays, Magnolias, Prairies, Chestnut-sideds, The Canada, Black-throated Greens and Blues, Scarlet Tanagers…

We’ve come for the trees
and for the willow pond,
for the dogwood, the weeping
beech and the dell filled
with birdsong.    
From the poem “At Mount Auburn Cemetery” by Wendy Drexler, from her new poetry collection, Before There Was Before, Iris Press, © 2017 by Wendy Drexler
  The above lines from the poem “At Mount Auburn Cemetery” are from the just-released poetry collection Before There Was Beforeby Wendy Drexler, co-author of Buzz, Ruby, and Their City Chicks and contributor to Dead in Good Company, A Celebration of Mount Auburn Cemetery 

Before There Was Before Cover.indd
  Spring migration has begun and for the next few weeks the Dell at Mount Auburn will indeed be filled with birdsong.  May is the month of joy at Mount Auburn Cemetery.  You can enjoy the poem in its entirety in Wendy’s new book.  At Wendy’s web site you can learn of her coming appearances and sample some of her poetry.   You will also find Wendy on the Dead In Good Company Facebook page,     On April 12th Kim Nagy and I were at the Milford, MA Library to discuss our book Dead In Good Company.  Our contributor Sandra Lee joined us for the event.  We thank Susan Edmonds and Mike Bon Tempo and the staff of the library for their efforts in putting the evening together.


Kim at the podium, Milford Library, April 12, 2017.  Photo by John Harrison.
John Harrison and Sandra Lee, Milford Library.  Photo by Kim Nagy.
The spring migrants are coming in right on time.  The advance guard, the Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers, were being seen in mid-April in several locations.  I saw my first Yellow-rumpeds and Palms on April 12th at the Arlington Reservoir.
Palm Warbler, Arlington Reservoir.  Photo by John Harrison.
Yellow-rumped Warbler, Arlington Reservoir.  Photo by John Harrison.
Last year I first saw both of these species on April 17th, also at the Arlington Reservoir.  And while enjoying the early arrivals at the Arlington Reservoir on April 24th, I discovered a Great Egret perched on a tree only about ten feet away at eye level.
Great Egret, Arlington Reservoir.  Photo by John Harrison.
It was there for a half hour and many walkers stopped to enjoy it. 
  Pine Warblers, also one of the early arrivals, have been seen at several locations but have so far eluded me.  I saw my first Pine Warbler last year on April 17th at the Arlington Reservoir.
Pine Warbler, Arlington Reservoir, April 17, 2016.  Photo by John Harrison.
This species has always eluded me so I’m happy to have had my Pine encounter last year.  Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets are being seen at many venues.  I’ve seen them at Mount Auburn Cemetery, Horn Pond and the Arlington Reservoir.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Arlington Reservoir.  Photo by John Harrison.
Golden-crowned Kinglet, Mount Auburn Cemetery.  Photo by John Harrison.
We will soon hear of the arrival of Baltimore and Orchard Orioles.  Mount Auburn Cemetery and the Mystic Lakes are usually nesting areas for both of these species.  And soon the super-stars, the Scarlet Tanagers, Cape May’s, Blackburnians, Black-throated Greens and Blues, Magnolias, Redstarts, Chestnut-sideds, Indigo Buntings, vireos and the rest will roll in to dazzle us.  Mount Auburn Cemetery and Plum Island will have a carnival atmosphere the first couple of weeks in May.  We’re all tanned, rested and ready for the ‘Big Show.’   
  We have been fortunate to still catch some winter surprises even as spring migration commences.  The last couple of weekends in Rye and Hampton, NH and Salisbury and Plum Island have been exciting.  The Hampton Snowy Owl was still observed on the road to Hampton Beach into mid-April, perching on a boat at Hampton on April 9th (  It’s surreal to photograph Palm and Yellow-rumped Warblers on one day and a Snowy Owl the next day.  But we never tire of Snowies, so we’ll eke out every moment possible with this wonderful owl.
Snowy Owl on a boat, Hampton.  Photo by John Harrison.
Snowy Owl on boat, Hampton.  Photo by John Harrison.
from KIM snowy on post
Snowy Owl on telephone pole, Hampton.  Photo by Kim Nagy.  
We’re still getting glimpses of mature Common Loons at Rye Beach, (  Hampton and Salisbury.
from KIM loon back view 1
Common Loon, Rye Marina.  Photo by Kim Nagy.  
from KIM adult male loon red eye with crab
Common Loon with crab, Rye Marina.  Photo by Kim Nagy.
They will all soon find fresh water ponds for breeding but it has been a treat to watch them at these various salt water locations.  And while hoping to catch Rocky the Snowy Owl at Rye Beach we enjoyed Snow Buntings and a Killdeer on the rocks above the water and at Rye Marina Eiders and Long-tailed Ducks.
from KIM RYE snow bunting stretching wings
Snow Bunting, Rye Beach.  Photo by Kim Nagy.  
from KIM RYE BEACH kildeer
Killdeer, Rye Beach.  Photo by Kim Nagy.
Long-tailed Ducks, Rye Marina.  Photo by John Harrison.
from KIM eider with crab
Eider with crab, Rye Marina.  Photo by Kim Nagy.
From Rye and Hampton we continued on to Salisbury and Plum Island and had some Harrier and Red-tailed Hawk moments the past few weeks.
from KIM harrier
Harrier Hawk, Plum Island.  Photo by Kim Nagy.
Red-tailed Hawk takes off, Plum Island.  Photo by Kim Nagy.  
At Horn Pond in Woburn spring is quite evident.  Palms, Yellow-rumpeds and Pine Warblers have been there for a couple of weeks.  And while exploring there recently I noticed a Flicker come out of a tree cavity.  I watched for a while and it went back into the hole and popped its head out and spit saw dust, a sure sign that it was building a nest.  I checked on it every day thereafter as the pair got its nest prepared.
Flicker throwing saw dust from nest, Horn Pond.   Photo by John Harrison.
Flicker pair at their nest, Horn Pond.  Photo by John Harrison.
It’s going to be fun when the chicks hatch and stick their heads out of the hole waiting to be fed.  Photographer Jim Renault also discovered a Flicker nest, this one at the Arlington Reservoir.
from JIM  Flicker at Arl Res fx  About to Take Off
Flicker at nest, Arlington Reservoir.  Photo by Jim Renault.
from JIM  Flicker fx at Arl Res Take Off Shot
Flicker at nest, Arlington Reservoir.  Photo by Jim Renault.  
And he found Snow Geese at Haeger Pond in Sudbury.
from JIM  Snow Geese fx Haeger Pond
Snow Geese, Haeger Pond, Sudbury.  Photo by Jim Renault.  
  Though the spring migrants haven’t showed up at Mount Auburn to any degree yet,  I have seen the lone Great Horned Owl, Alexander the Great,  in the Dell a few times
Great Horned Owl in the Dell, Mount Auburn Cemetery.  Photo by John Harrison.
and had a fun Raccoon encounter on April 12th.  I was driving around hoping to catch something and noticed the pair of Raccoons in a tree.
Raccoons, Mount Auburn Cemetery.  Photo by John Harrison.  
Raccoons, Mount Auburn Cemetery.  Photo by John Harrison.
They moved around for me a little and were close enough for some entertaining video. 
  It looks like we’re going to have another lively Kestrel season at Tufts Park in South Medford. Three times lately I’ve gone to the park and have seen one on the light poles and in trees at the edge of the park.  In the past couple of years we have been able to enjoy this species into late August, which is generally a slow time in our pursuit of wildlife.  The Kestrels keep the season going and when the Kestrel activity in late August dwindles, we prepare for fall migration.
American Kestrel, Tufts Park.  Photo by John Harrison.
But for now we eagerly await the arrival of the migration elites.  Hopefully by next time we will have many warbler tales to tell.  We look forward to this short window every May.  It sustains us for the rest of the year!