All posts by Diane

Wildlife Watch by Marian Harman

Black capped Chickadee waits for seed – Doug Pederson

Happy New Year! At this time of year, I like to review all the flora and fauna reports for the past year. In 2017, we had 32 reporters, who sent in 1294 reports on flora and fauna they had seen. This is a smaller number of reporters than in the past few years, but these few stalwart reporters reported a very large number of species. Reporters reported from all over different parts of Westford.

Some notable reports were received in every month. In January, some cowbirds were reported to have been in residence all winter along Hildreth St. Bluebirds were visiting feeders all over town. In February, two pairs of hooded mergansers were reported on Forge Pond. A river otter was also seen fishing at the Forge Pond beach. The first woodcocks arrived early at Almeria Dr. on February 24. In March, peepers were heard on March 1. A river otter was seen on Vine Brook. On March 6, a great blue heron visited a yard on Howard Rd   read more…

December 2017 – Wildlife Watch by Marian Harman

Black capped Chickadee waits for seed – Doug Pederson

Happy New Year! At this time of year, I like to review all the flora and fauna reports for the past year. In 2017, we had 32 reporters, who sent in 1294 reports on flora and fauna they had seen. This is a smaller number of reporters than in the past few years, but these few stalwart reporters reported a very large number of species. Reporters reported from all over different parts of Westford.

Some notable reports were received in every month. In January, some cowbirds were reported to have been in residence all winter along Hildreth St. Bluebirds were visiting feeders all over town. In February, two pairs of hooded mergansers were reported on Forge Pond. A river otter was also seen fishing at the Forge Pond beach. The first woodcocks arrived early at Almeria Dr. on February 24. In March, peepers were heard on March 1. A river otter was seen on Vine Brook. On March 6, a great blue heron visited a yard on Howard Rd. On March 8, forty hooded mergansers and some ring-necked ducks were seen on Forge Pond. On March 13, hooded mergansers, blue winged-teal and wood ducks were seen on Flushing Pond. On March 14, a bear, out of hibernation, took down a bird feeder on Tadmuck Lane and on March 24, was seen at a feeder on Dana Drive. On March 21, turkey vultures soared over Monadnock Dr. On March 30, a pair of ravens flew over Chamberlain Rd.

In April there was a heavy snow on April 1. On April 7, a phoebe arrived at Monadnock Drive. On April 7, spring peepers were heard on Monadnock Dr. By April 10, ten great blue heron nests were occupied in the wetland off Rome Dr.  On April 11, chipping sparrows and a pine warbler arrived on Monadnock Dr. On April 11, wood frogs were heard on Main St. On April 14, painted turtles were sunning on Howard Rd. On April 20, an eastern towhee was heard on Monadnock Dr. On April 30, Baltimore orioles were seen on Hayrick Lane and on Chamberlain Rd. Also, a grey catbird first arrived at Chamberlain Rd.

On May 3, rose-breasted grosbeak, common yellowthroat, prairie warbler, towhee, and chestnut-sided warbler were all seen on Monadnock Dr. On May 2, a ruby-throated hummingbird was reported on Hayrick Lane. On May 2, a whippoorwill was heard on Chamberlain Rd. On May 6, a very unusual great egret was flying over Nashoba Pond. On May 13 at the Emmet land, ovenbirds, warbling vireos, and spotted sandpiper were heard. On May 14, white-crowned sparrow, indigo bunting, and blue-winged warbler were seen on Parkhurst Dr. On May 17, a great-crested flycatcher was first heard on Chamberlain Rd. On May 24, wood thrush and scarlet tanager were heard on Chamberlain Rd. On May 21, a bobcat was seen on Main St., and a gray fox was seen on Graniteville Rd. On May 23, a black bear was seen on Heywood Rd. on May 24, a redstart was seen on Sherwood Dr.

On June 1, black ducks were seen on Hayrick Rd. A red-eyed vireo was heard on Monadnock Dr. A great blue heron was catching chipmunks on Monadnock Dr. On June 4, a killdeer was nesting on Gould Rd. On June 7, a blue-headed vireo and a yellow warbler were heard on Chamberlain Rd. A Carolina wren pair was nesting inside a screened porch. On June 15, chimney swifts were seen to be nesting in the Roudenbush cupola. On June 20, kingbird and mockingbird were seen on Hayrick Lane. On June 26, ravens flew over Depot St.

On July 18, a gray fox was seen on Vine Brook Rd. Reports of bats have been almost non-existent this summer. One bat was seen flying over Monadnock Dr. on July 19. On July 19, a six-spotted tiger beetle was reported from Howard Rd. On July 22, two monarch butterflies were seen on Howard Rd., and a white admiral butterfly was seen on swamp milkweed.

On August, 6, ten cedar waxwings were seen at Lakeside Meadows. On August, 8, chimney swifts and an eastern wood peewee were seen on Monadnock Dr. On August 25, two blue-spotted salamanders were found on Providence Rd., under a potted plant. On August 29, a mute swan family of six was seen on Beaver Brook.

On September 1, six wood ducks were seen on Beaver Brook. On September 3, a black bear visited a feeder on Providence Rd. On September 5, a bear was seen walking along Groton Rd. On September 7, four young bobcats were playing in a Depot St. yard. On September 22, large- mouthed bass and pickerels were brought in from Stony Brook by fishermen. A cuckoo was heard on Graniteville Rd. On September 23, monarch butterflies were seen on Gray Fox Lane and at the Haystack land. On September 24, a northern leopard frog was seen on Hayrick Lane.

On October 8, a great-horned owl was heard on Providence Rd. On October 10, a black bear was at a feeder on Plain Rd. On October 15, a bear was at a feeder on Court Rd. On October 22, a bald eagle was being harassed by crows on Groton Rd.

November and the first part of December was unusually warm, with temperatures regularly in the 50’s and 60’s. As a result, birds seemed to be finding plenty of natural food, and didn’t visit feeders in big numbers. The December 9th snowfall brought many birds back to feeders.

Many thanks to all flora and fauna reporters for the month of December. Please send reports by January 26, for inclusion in next month’s column. You can call me at 692-3907, e-mail me at mariancharman@verizon.net or write to me at our new address: 7A Old Colony Dr., Westford, MA

 

Late November Reports:

Rosemarie Koester, Providence Rd. November 2, hawk sitting on top of neighbor’s roof. Pair of blue jays, pair of cardinals come daily, purple finch and house finches, several goldfinches, white-throated sparrow. November 11, coyote in yard, howled for a bit., four gray squirrels. November 18, first junco sighted, the latest I have seen them arrive. A few chickadees, tufted titmouse, nuthatch, wren sitting on railing of deck. Downy, red-bellied woodpeckers, owl heard far away. December 26, Carolina wren in yard.

Ginger Dries, Sherwood Dr. November 5, Carolina wren. November 9, first junco. November 10, hawk sitting by feeders most of the day. Twenty-five to thirty robins on crabapple tree.  Over several days, they ate until crabapples all gone. Many jays, cardinals, titmice, chickadees, red-bellied, hairy and downy woodpeckers, mourning doves, sparrows.

Marian/Bill Harman, Chamberlain Rd. November 26, unusually warm weather– in the 60’s. Nine mourning doves, pair of downy woodpeckers, two blue jays, two chickadees, two titmice, one white-breasted nuthatch, one cardinal, one house finch, ten house sparrows.

 

December Reports:

Marcia Stokes at East Boston Camps. December 3 barred owls seen.

Leslie Thomas, Old Colony Dr. December 6, two big deer behind the garage in the woods. Later saw a third. December 15, four deer this morning.

Marian/Bill Harman, Chamberlain Rd. December 6, four large male turkeys crossing the street. December 10, ten mourning doves, pair of downy woodpeckers, three blue jays, two chickadees, one titmouse, two Carolina wrens, Two female and one male cardinal, eight juncos, fifteen house sparrows, pair of red-bellied woodpeckers, one gray squirrel.

Gerry DiBello, Court Rd. December 17, coyote seen about 8 a. between 4 and 6 Court Rd.

Margaret Wheeler, Depot St. December 16, two deer lying under some evergreens at the back of our yard. They stayed there for over an hour until six wild tom turkeys walked over from next door to check them out.

Rosemarie Koester, Providence Rd. December report: Three cardinals, one pair of blue jays goldfinches, purple and house finches, white-throated sparrows, eight juncos, tufted titmice, chickadees, nuthatches, several doves, crows heard. December 17, heard a pack of coyotes, saw gray squirrels. December 23, heard two owls chatting together at 2 a.m., one with a lower voice than the other. Hawk checked out our feeders and then left. Caught with outdoor camera, several deer at 4 am in back yard, saw deer prints after first snowfall.

Penny LaCroix at Forge Village dam. I counted 135 mallard ducks by the dam. Also saw ten swans and a blue heron on the pond.

Marian/Bill Harman, Old Colony Dr. December 24, just got some feeders up on the deck at our new condo. After a few days, they were brave enough to come. Today we were happy to host eleven juncos, two blue jays, 3 titmice, 3 chickadees, a goldfinch, four house finches, two downy woodpeckers, a mourning dove, a red-bellied woodpecker, and a grey squirrel.

Marilyn Day, Graniteville Rd. December 26, blue bird in yard sitting on our anemometer pole.

Marian Harman is a member of the Westford Conservation Trust, a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to the preservation of Westford’s trails and open spaces. The Trust welcomes new members and volunteers. Check out our website at westfordconservationtrust.org and visit us on Facebook.

 

 

 

Marian’s Wildlife Blog – October 2017

Carolina Wren by Doug Pederson

Can there be any doubt now that climate change is affecting the United States dramatically? Its effects are felt strongly in the number and intensity of hurricanes forming in the Atlantic and hitting Texas, Florida, the Caribbean, and Puerto Rico. The number and severity of these hurricanes come about as a result of the warming of sea temperatures. Climate change is also seen in shifts in species populations seen right here in Westford.

There have been shifts in several bird species that are probably due to climate change. In the past fifty years, several species of “southern” birds have come north into New England. Among these are the Northern Cardinal, the Tufted Titmouse, Northern Mockingbird, and most recently, the Carolina Wren and the Red-bellied Woodpecker. All of these species are still seen in the south, but they have expanded their ranges into New England. This is probably in response to our less severe average winter temperatures. Some birds, such as the American Robin and the Eastern Bluebird, which used to be migratory, are now year-round residents. These species are able to shift their diet from insects and worms in the summer to berries in the winter. These are all native species that are welcome here.

But some effects of climate change on species are not so welcome….Continue reading

October 2017 – Wildlife Watch by Marian Harman

Carolina Wren by Doug Pederson

Can there be any doubt now that climate change is affecting the United States dramatically? Its effects are felt strongly in the number and intensity of hurricanes forming in the Atlantic and hitting Texas, Florida, the Caribbean, and Puerto Rico. The number and severity of these hurricanes come about as a result of the warming of sea temperatures. Climate change is also seen in shifts in species populations seen right here in Westford.

There have been shifts in several bird species that are probably due to climate change. In the past fifty years, several species of “southern” birds have come north into New England. Among these are the Northern Cardinal, the Tufted Titmouse, Northern Mockingbird, and most recently, the Carolina Wren and the Red-bellied Woodpecker. All of these species are still seen in the south, but they have expanded their ranges into New England. This is probably in response to our less severe average winter temperatures. Some birds, such as the American Robin and the Eastern Bluebird, which used to be migratory, are now year-round residents. These species are able to shift their diet from insects and worms in the summer to berries in the winter. These are all native species that are welcome here.

But some effects of climate change on species are not so welcome. Some plants have shifted their ranges, though plants are, of course, slower than animals in their responses to climate change. The Sugar Maple tree is the most obvious example of a shift in range. Sugar Maples thrive in cold climates. With our warming climate, they are greatly declining in southern and central New England. They are, in effect, “migrating” north, and it is predicted that in the not-too-distant future, Sugar Maples will no longer be found in the U.S., and the maple syrup industry will be confined to Canada. Many unwanted invasive plants have also expanded north into New England. Among these is Mile-a-minute plant, Kudzu (called “the plant that ate the south”). Westford has instituted a program to try to eliminate Mile-a-minute plant, which has just come into Westford in the past few years. These invasives grow very rapidly, and very quickly overwhelm all other plants in their vicinity. We cannot have a diversity of animals if we do not have a diversity of plants to feed them.

Other unwanted species which have invaded the northeast and Westford are insect pests. Very cold winters used to keep these species in check and prevent their march northward. But, with generally warmer winters, pests such as wooly hemlock adelgid and long-horned beetle, are starting to ravage our native trees.

What can we do about climate change? Any fix to our problems must be long-term. Primarily, we must reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Many in Westford are already switching to solar power, either through roof-top solar or through purchasing power through solar farms. Others are opting to buy 100% wind power through their power company. The non-profit Mass Energy offers its New England Greenstart program through National Grid. One can buy a mix of renewables or 100% wind power from Mass Energy. There is a small increased charge for this when you pay your National Grid bill. For us, the 100% wind option cost only $4.82 this past month. Because Mass Energy is a non-profit, these fees are tax-deductible. And, many in Westford are now driving hybrid or all-electric cars, which are much less expensive in gas costs, and reduce greenhouse emissions dramatically. In the long run, these actions will save our climate for our plants, animals and for us.

Many thanks to all flora and fauna contributors. Reports should be sent by October 26 for inclusion in next month’s column. You can write me at 10 Chamberlain Rd., call me at 692-3907, or e-mail me at MarianCHarman@verizon.net.


Late September Reports:

            Dot Mooney, Monadnock Dr. September 18, eight doves, several goldfinches and house finches a few chickadees in for supper. September 21, at Howard Rd. wetland, a few turtles sun bathing. Under Parkhurst power lines, catbird, towhees, and blue jays, one dove, lots of ragweed and pretty goldenrods, both of which will have seeds to offer birds later. Ground is covered with acorns, a great food source for wildlife. Bittersweet, bright red winterberries, glossy buckthorn, a few pokeweed berries missed by birds and red multi-flora rose hips around. Along the road, grape vines offering bunches of ripening fruit. Another season of plenty for the wild things. September 23, flock of three male and one female turkey in feeder area. September 24, beautiful red-tailed hawk landed in nearby quaking aspen. September 27, a few blue jays out front around feeder, showing how many different calls they can make. September 28, at Howard Rd. wetland, a few turtles. At Beaver Brook, one great blue heron standing in sparkling sunlit water beside the tall reeds, carefully using that long bill to groom himself. On the pond side of the road, a family of mallards swimming in a neat line.

    Doug Pederson, at Beaver Brook Rd. bridge, September 29, twelve geese, about twenty mallards, two red-tailed hawks, great blue heron.

            Rosemarie Koester, Providence Rd. September Report: pair of cardinals, one of them balding, goldfinch, house finch pair, pair of blue jays, downy pair, one pecking on our house, red-bellied woodpecker. Saw my last hummingbird mid-September. Tufted titmouse, chickadees, white-breasted nuthatch, red-tailed hawk eating his breakfast on top of our shed. Bear seen, September 3. It tried to take down feeder, no damage, and emptied one goldfinch feeder. Coyote in back yard howling at night. Gray squirrels chasing each other, chipmunks creating holes in lawn, bees on flowers. Honeysuckle climbing on trees and bushes, leaves turning color, poison ivy leaves turning color.

October Reports:

            Dot Mooney, Monadnock Dr. October 1, small cooper’s hawk cleared all the birds out near feeder. October 4, goldfinches enjoying coneflower seeds and chatting about it. I’ve added a second birdbath to front step and now I often see both being used. Sumac foliage continues to change into more beautiful shades, from green to bright red to maroon. Twelve doves under feeder. October 5, flock of house finches eating seed, males very colorful. Evening, fifteen doves near feeder. One stepped into a birdbath and stayed there stretching his wings and just enjoying his bath for several minutes. Huge full moon beginning to rise over back woods, bright and beautiful. October 17, perfect fall day. Blue jays, cardinals and a few house sparrows around. Three titmice on deck for a visit. October 18, one perky chickadee on deck, a few doves around. Some days there are very few visiting birds. They have so much to feast on now. They’ll be back when the weather turns cold and damp.  Are you glad to live in New England in October?

           Rosemarie Koester, Providence Rd. October 8, great horned owl heard, pair of blue jays, pair of cardinals, one juvenile cardinal, purple finches, chickadees, nuthatch, tufted titmouse, a few doves, a large group of noisy grackles, downy woodpeckers poking in trees and on the house again, a group of seven turkey roaming the neighborhood, chipmunks, three or four gray squirrels, bees gathering nectar.         

            Beth Bonner, Plain Rd. October 10, a bear took down our feeders.

            Gerry DiBello, Court Rd. October 15, our expensive bird feeder was gone. Later, we found it in the woods nearby. It had been on a rope, high up. The rope ran over a tree branch to a lower point that was reachable. Apparently the bear figured out how to release the rope!

            Mary Hosford, Groton Rd., October 22, heard a bunch of crows making a big fuss and then saw a bald eagle up in one of the pine trees picking at something it had captured. I got a good video of it flying away.