We got up at 6 AM, had coffee, and were at Nahanton Park by 6:35 to look for birds. We expect to keep that kind of hours frequently for the next five or six weeks, until spring migration is over. Arlene has seen reports of palm warblers in Maine, so she thought there could be some in Newton too.
Almost as soon as we got out of the car we saw a bluebird sitting on a birdhouse.
Bluebirds were really hard to find in Massachusetts when we started birding. They have become much more common again, but they’re not an everyday occurrence. We used to see more of them at Nahanton Park than we have in recent years, but we did see them this past autumn in Millennium Park, a few miles upstream along the Charles in Boston (“Wait, I thought Boston was downstream from Newton!” Yes, downtown Boston is, but West Roxbury is upstream. The Charles goes three quarters of the way around Newton, and the river is the boundary between Boston and Dedham after it gets past Newton.) Some years the bluebirds are only in Nahanton Park at the very start of Spring, and either move away or are successful at hiding later; so some years we see them and some years we don’t.
We continued around garden plots…
not seeing or hearing much else (except for female red winged blackbirds — we’ve been seeing males, but I’m not sure about females), and continued past the soccer field. We were hearing a Carolina wren, but couldn’t find it. I think Carolina wrens have the loudest call for their weight of all birds we have around here, and it could have been farther away than it sounded. I saw a splash near the far end of the pond to the right of the path, put up my binoculars, and saw an animal swimming. We’re convinced that it was a beaver — it looked much bigger than a muskrat, and seemed to have a broad tail. There wasn’t much to see along the river. Arlene pointed out some Canada mayflower coming up along the trail coming back from the river.
I saw a small bird that didn’t look the same color of gray as a chickadee, more yellowish. I called it to Arlene’s attention and she got a better look than I did. It was a palm warbler, which is usually one of the first warblers to arrive in spring. That and the bluebird made it a really good start to migration birding.
We went out to Metrowest Subaru and ordered a new Forester. The old one has 214,000 miles on it and needs expensive work on its air conditioning and a new head gasket — too much money to put into a car that old, and we want the new safety features like lane departure and blind spot detection; the old one doesn’t even have a backup camera.