All posts by Diane

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

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.

September 2017 – Wildlife Watch by Marian Harman

Pileated Woodpecker by Doug Pederson

Now that fall is here, have you got your bird feeders up and running again? Or maybe you feed birds all summer long. In either case, its both personally gratifying and  valuable to science to keep records of the birds you see at your feeders and in your yard. We hope you will send your records to Westford Wildlife Watch of course, and also you may enjoy joining Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology’s Project Feeder Watch. If you join the approximately 300 Massachusetts residents who are already Project Feeder Watch reporters, you can send in your reports online, see what other reporters are observing, and help out the cause of citizen science.

Checking the Feeder Watch website, one can see the birds which were reported from all states and years. For the Massachusetts 2016-2017 season, we can see that 90 species of birds were reported. Most common birds reported were the usual suspects, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Blue Jay, Dark-eyed Junco, Downy Woodpecker, Mourning Dove, Northern Cardinal and White-breasted Nuthatch. These resident birds were reported in 80-90% of sites during the entire season. Some of these birds, such as Blue Jay and Black-capped Chickadee represent a welcome come-back from West Nile virus which ravaged their populations a few years ago. American Crow, that was hit hardest by the virus, has had a much slower come-back, and is still only seen at about 25% of sites.

Some statistics are surprising. For instance, we think of Wild Turkey as practically ubiquitous in Westford yards, but it is only reported in 8-17% of Massachusetts sites. Carolina Wren, a formerly southern bird, but one we think of as a  common resident now, is reported from only 20-23% of sites. American Robin, which we think of as an overwintering bird now, is still seen mostly in the spring when 59% of sites report it. In the winter, only 10-15% of sites report robins. The same pattern is seen in Eastern Bluebirds, which are seen at about 19% of sites in the spring, but only 4-8% of sites in the winter. Some birds are reported only rarely, such as Pileated Woodpecker, reported from only 1-3% of sites.

These statistics make interesting reading, and make one eager for the upcoming Feeder Watch season. Yes, participating in Project Feeder Watch, can even make you look forward to winter! If you’d like to join Project Feeder Watch, simply log on to their website,, and click on “join”. You can also read all the information on this great site without joining.

Many thanks to all flora and fauna reporters for the month of September. Please send reports 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

Late August Reports:

Dot Mooney, Monadnock Dr. August 25, Carolina wren around, six chipping sparrows eating seeds–cute little birds. August 27, a wood pee-wee calling from back woods. The fruits of the row of sumacs along edge of woods are deep red now, later in winter, when food is scarce, some birds will begin to eat them. August 29, flicker’s shrill call from nearby woods. Female hummer busy visiting potted flowers. Two house sparrows have joined the family of chipping sparrows eating seed. August 31 at Howard Rd. wetland, numerous painted turtles, last of the purple loosestrife and St. Johnswort blooming , soft plumes on the tall reeds getting larger. At Beaver Brook Rd., a family of mallards on pond side, along with the family of five swans. The three youngsters getting quite big. On the other side of the road one adult swam alone, a newcomer. Blue chicory running out of blooms.

Barbara Theriault, August 27, blue heron standing in middle of Grassy Pond.

September Reports:

Doug Pederson, Woodland Dr. September 1, pileated woodpecker landed in a tree just above where I was sitting in my yard. Coopers hawk here chasing the crows. Now I have a tamed crow who sits outside my door for food, waiting there as early as 6 a.m. Also, I feed all the birds at my five feeders, a rabbit that has been around here for a number of years, turkeys and many squirrels.  At Beaver Brook, swan family of five, six mallards and a family of six or more wood ducks.

Dot Mooney, Monadnock Dr. September 4, chickadees and titmice, taking turns in bird bath out front. Lots of small bumblebees visiting hydrangea, hummers still coming to potted plants. September 5, goldfinches on feeder, then they came to pots of coneflower on front walk. September 7, a flicker robing holes in grass by front walk. Five doves on ground under bird feeder. Two female hummers arguing over a hanging impatiens plant. September 8, sat on front step listening to a lively conversation between two white-breasted nuthatches. One male goldfinch taking sips from bird bath, several turkeys wandering around near feeder, five doves on back lawn. Four downies on deck taking turns at suet. September 10, three house finches in bird bath together, water going everywhere. September 14, another long conversation, this one between three flickers. September 17, small cooper’s hawk again swooped low, just missing doves on ground under feeder. Colors slowly beginning to change– vines first, then the wetland shrubs and on to the trees, a beautiful process that we can take the time to enjoy just by looking out the window. Where did the summer go?

Rosemarie Koester, Providence Rd. September 5, a bear came for a visit and bent the strong steel pole that holds our two feeders, also went after the nearby goldfinch feeder and pulled the bottom out. Some other neighbors’ feeders were destroyed too. Very loud coyote heard at 11:30 at night. September 9, red-tailed hawk eating a small bird on the shed._

Leslie Thomas, September 5, a bear sighted on Groton Rd., coming in to Pilgrim Village.

Buffie Diercks, Depot St. September 7, four young bobcats playing in my backyard last week [Buffie sent a video of them-MH].

Gute Fernandes, on Russell’s Way, September 7, spotted salamander crossing the road.

Len Palmer, Colonial Dr., September 9, two deer and twenty or more turkeys in front yard at the same time today. The deer are eating my lilies and the turkey are wiping out this year’s wood frog young.

Marilyn Day, September 22. At Stony Brook, fishermen catching nice sized large mouth bass and lots of pickerel. At Graniteville Rd., a cuckoo heard around the yard recently.

Diane Duane, at Grey Fox Lane, September 23, monarch butterfly. At Haystack saw another. This must be the last (4th) generation that will be migrating south.

Debbie Prato, Hayrick Lane, September 24, Canada geese, mallards, woodchuck, grasshopper sparrows, dead Northern leopard frog in street.


August 2017 – Wildlife Watch by Marian Harman

Black capped Chickadee by Doug Pederson

Do you have a large glass window or slider at your house? If so, chances are you have seen a bird strike that glass at some time. If the bird is lucky, it will just stun itself, perhaps need a few minutes to “come to” and then fly off. Sometimes, though, the bird is killed by the window strike. Living Bird, a publication of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, reported on this problem in an article titled “Glass Action for Birds”, in its winter 2014 edition. It has been estimated that up to a billion birds are killed each year by window collisions in the United States alone.

Scott Loss of Oklahoma State University has done bird strike research for the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He found, surprisingly, that the majority of annual bird deaths occur at residential and low-rise structures. The average family residence kills one to three birds a year. Loss found that six species seem to die of glass strikes most commonly: Ruby-throated hummingbirds, brown creepers, ovenbirds, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, gray catbirds, and black and white warblers. It seems that these long-distance migrants may be less familiar with the structures in areas they pass through on migration. I notice that at my house, however, the birds mostly likely to strike the glass are mourning doves, downy woodpeckers, chickadees and titmice. It seems that they do this when they are flying in panic to avoid a hawk predator.

Daniel Klem a Muhlenberg College professor has been studying what works to help birds avoid collisions with glass. He found that birds, like people, do not see glass and do not recognize the structural clues people use, such as window frames and building walls. Glass can act as a mirror reflecting the sky and vegetation. New UV windows or windows with dot arrays have been found to be only moderately effective. Klem finds that windows with vertical stripes spaced four inches apart or horizontal stripes spaced two inches apart on the outside of the glass work best. Stripes should be at least 1/4″ wide and light colors are better than dark colors.

What can we do at home? Cornell Lab suggests keeping feeders a foot or less away from windows, so birds that fly away from feeders cannot gain enough speed to hit the glass. Apply paint or decals, hanging strings, soap or tape in vertical rows four inches apart or horizontal rows two inches apart, on the outside of the window. Decals on the inside may be invisible because of the reflections on the window. You can use any decals placed in lines, even holiday shapes. Fine netting placed over windows or regular window screens inside the window should also work. For more information go to the American Bird Conservatory website, This site has some great photos of ways you can effectively treat your windows, and some suggests some places to buy materials.

Many thanks to all flora and fauna reporters for the month of August. Please send reports by September 26 for next month’s column. You can call me at 692-3907, write me at 10 Chamberlain Rd., or e-mail me at

Late July Reports:

Dot Mooney, Monadnock Dr. July 19, chipping sparrows, flicker, goldfinch, house finch and downies around early morning. At 8:45 p.m., one bat swooping about over back lawn. July 22, listening to a catbird in the woods early morning. Hearing him, with his wide range of calls, you would think there was a group of all different kinds of birds gathered together–love these catbirds. Male cardinal on feeder. Queen Anne’s lace blooming around sumacs, many interesting mushrooms by edge of front woods. July 25, three little downies still arguing over suet, as they have all summer. Now a fourth downy has arrived on deck. He seems a bit timid, not approaching suet. July 26, sitting out front, I saw a pretty eastern swallowtail butterfly visiting various potted plants. Watched a chipping sparrow sipping from bird bath. Two titmice hopped in and both enjoyed noisy baths. July 27 noon, at Howard Rd. wetland, saw what appeared to be a little short-tailed weasel hurrying across the road and down toward the water. Growing in the water, water hemlock, an extremely poisonous plant which looks like Queen Anne’s lace. Monadnock Dr. evening, one blue jay parent feeding suet to two begging youngsters. Five downy woodpeckers on deck. July 28, under Parkhurst power lines, peppergrass, ragweed, rabbit’s foot clover, spotted knapweed, Queen Anne’s lace. Heard a towhee repeating his “Drink your tea” call. Pretty little hummer visiting my potted plants on deck. Female red-bellied woodpecker on suet and a little downy watching. July 30, purple loosestrife appearing here and there in wetlands, but not huge areas of it as I used to see. July 31, many small bumblebees around my potted plants, especially at the zinnias. Many flowers are in their best high summer bloom now. Cicada calling from high in a tree out front, others calling from all directions. A row of sumacs along back wood, not poisonous, their seed heads getting darker red every day. Birds will enjoy them later in the winter when food is scarce.

Diane Duane, Howard Rd. July 22, two monarch butterflies during the water chestnut pull in our kayaks on Stony Brook near the Stepinski well area. Also a beautiful white admiral butterfly in the same area, with some swamp milkweed. What a beautiful area to kayak!

August Reports:

Dot Mooney, Monadnock Dr. August 1, Another nice day in the 80’s. Stopped by Howard Rd. wetland. Numerous painted turtles of various sizes in water, mostly floating with heads above water. Loud truck went by and heads all disappeared for a moment, then promptly all popped up again. At some point many turtles began wandering around all over the water, staying close to water plants. Some purple loosestrife by edge of water, a few violet blue pickerelweed flowers blooming. Pleasant little wetland.  August 2, a red-eyed vireo repeating his call out back. August 5, little house wren poking around forsythia. August 9, watched one chimney swift flying around over building and back woods. A turkey vulture over woods, two titmice bathing together, a female house finches hopped in as soon as titmice life. August 10, stopped by a field on Hildreth St., heard an Eastern wood peewee nearby. At Howard Rd. wetland, many turtles, small bumblebees on last blossoms of flowers, a huge blue-black wasp around, dragonflies everywhere. Under power lines in Hildreth Hills, saw late goldenrods, spotted knapweed, common St. John’s-wort, rabbits foot clover all puffed out and pink, so soft to the touch. August 11, noticed a beautiful cooper’s hawk perched on a large boulder near bird feeder, just looping around after a failed attempt. He then flew to a tree for a better look. Forty-five minutes later the hawk flew out of the tree and disappeared. August 15, a saucy hummer visited plants on deck, took a moment to closely buzz around a downy, who kept ducking his head. August 16, Howard Rd. wetland, at least fourteen turtles of various sizes. Pretty purple-topped grasses by the side of the road. On pond side of Beaver Brook, two adult swans drifting about with their two grey and one white youngsters, a mallard family in the distance. On brook side, at edge of or in the water, buttonbush, pickerelweed, yellow pond lily and white fragrant water lily. Under Hildreth Hills power lines, heard chattering goldfinches, one catbird on shrub. Many shrubs and vines all showing early color changes, goldenrods beautiful. Green acorns of all sizes in caps, scattered about on ground. Titmice taking baths out front, then they head to feeder for some snacks. August 18, opened a window after dark and was delighted to hear the loud chorus of summer night insects, in full voices, competing to be heard. “Len told me some of the warblers have already begun to migrate south. After hearing that and seeing vines and shrubs showing early colors, I had better enjoy every lovely day that we are allowed to have….This has been a lovely summer, no big drought so everything green and pretty. I’ve enjoyed it all.”

Marian/Bill Harman, Chamberlain Rd. August 6, Carolina wrens are feeding babies on our screened porch again. They come in and out through a hole in the screen. Two juvenile barred owls calling. We could see them well when we briefly shone a flashlight on the branch they were sitting on. August 15, two baby Carolina wrens fledged from the nest on our porch today. August 17, two beautiful spotted fawns walked in the grass along our driveway towards the street. When a car went by, they turned and bounded into the pasture. A walk at Lakeside Meadows and Shipley Swamp. Birds: Crow, goldfinches, pee-wee in the woods, catbird, at least ten cedar waxwings in the field eating bugs or seeds. Plants seen: maiden pink, cattails, purple loosestrife, prostrate tick trefoil, Indian pipes, showy tick trefoil, spotted knapweed, white water lily, goldenrod, Queen Anne’s lace, yarrow, common tansy. Also seen, two tiger swallowtail butterflies feeding on milkweed, baby bunny.

Marilyn Day, Graniteville Rd. August 12. A coyote loping across the front yard at 12:10 p.m.

Diane Duane, Howard Rd. August 14, a beautiful monarch in our front garden on common milkweed. It looks like she laid eggs and we see at least one on a leaf [Diane sent a great photo-MH].

Rosemarie Koester, Providence Rd. August Report: titmice, chickadees, nuthatch, two pairs of blue jays, red-winged blackbirds, some grackles, balding on the blue jays. Two pairs of cardinals, one juvenile, downy woodpecker, red-bellied woodpecker, several house finches, goldfinches. Chickadees seem to like the goldfinch feeder, hawk circling overhead, wren on deck. A bird nest in between the gutter guards in front of house, hummingbirds very active at feeder, but dropped off considerably last week. I didn’t notice any change in bird behavior during the eclipse of the sun., a few turkeys around. Also, four gray squirrels, one red squirrel fussing at the gray squirrel, several chipmunks, lots of rabbits, young as well, enjoying my flowers. A deer with fawn in the woods. Good to see a fair number of bumble bees at flowers. August 25, a blue-spotted salamander was under a flower pot I removed! I put pot back so maybe it will return. [Rosemarie sent a good photo of this rare salamander-MH] Many thanks to those who are removing the invasive vines around town. But, still see much bittersweet climbing on trees, bushes around town. This will destroy the tree if not removed.

          Marian Harman is a member of the Westford Conservation Trust, a non-profit conservation organization whose purpose is the preservation of Westford’s open spaces and trails. The Trust welcomes new members and volunteers.

July 2017 – Wildlife Watch by Marian Harman

Eastern Cottontail by Marian Harman

Most of us enjoy seeing cottontail rabbit families in our yards (unless they are nibbling on our lettuce, of course). They’re definitely cute. The bunnies we see in our yard are almost certainly the hybrid Eastern Cottontail. The “real” New England Cottontail has become threatened here due to loss of habitat. It is very difficult to distinguish New England cottontails from Eastern cottontails. The native New Englanders are a bit smaller, and have ears trimmed with fine black fur. They lack the white forehead spots common on Eastern Cottontails.

The historic range of the New England Cottontail has always been small; southern Maine and New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and south to Rhode Island. These rabbits depend on small early succession forest patches within a larger habitat of forest and shrub wetlands. They eat the shrubby undergrowth that abounds in young forests. It is thought that historically they thrived in habitats along waterways, disturbed by hurricanes or fires. But due to development, forest fire suppression, and the introduction of alien invasive shrubs such as autumn olive, barberry and honeysuckle, New England Cottontails have lost 80 % of their former habitat. They are listed as threatened in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, endangered in New Hampshire and Maine, and extirpated from Vermont.

A recent article by nature writer Ted Williams entitled “Recovery: Second Chance for Yankee Cottontails” appeared June 7, 2017 in a Nature Conservancy blog called Cool Green Science. Williams states that the Eastern Cottontail is a hybrid mixture of cottontail breeds. It was introduced repeatedly from the late 1800’s through 1970 by hunting clubs and fish and wildlife services, and is so hearty that it has outcompeted our native cottontail. New England Cottontails are dependent on early successional forest, which we have pretty much run out of in New England. Eastern Cottontails, however, do well in all habitats, especially suburban yards and edges.

The article discusses a new public-private partnership, called the New England Cottontail Initiative, that is undertaking young-forest restoration. Local zoos are breeding the natives for release. The first releases took place in a 144-acre Nature Conservancy preserve in Dover Plains, New York. Here small patch clear-cuts are growing back into thicket. New England cottontails have recently been found on the Nature Conservancy land in Lyme, Ct., and management is starting there to provide the early forest patches these rabbits need. And even closer to home, captive-bred New England Cottontails bred at the Roger Williams Zoo in Rhode Island, are being released at the Bellamy River Wildlife Management Area in Dover, New Hampshire.

Williams states, “imperiled species need to be saved not because they are cute, not because they are beautiful, not because they are useful, not because they are anything. Only because they are.”

Next time you see a cottontail in Westford, check it out with binoculars. Some day, you might be lucky enough to see one of those New Hampshire bunnies, a native New England Cottontail.

Late June Reports:

Miller School second graders, Vineyard Rd. Reports from May 18-June 16: Nineteen goldfinch, eight house finch, seven cardinals, five house sparrows, four crows, four song sparrows, three black-capped chickadees, one nuthatch, one robin. This represents total birds observed during nine observation days. There were seven cloudy days, one rainy day, one sunny day. [This is a new project for Miller School second graders. Feeders, seed, binoculars and all materials were provided by the Westford Conservation Trust. We welcome these new birders! MH]

Dot Mooney, Monadnock Dr. June 20, northern catalpa tree in back woods is covered with bright white blossoms. Heard a great-crested flycatcher. New batch of young downies on deck, begging parent for suet. After sunset, one bat flying over lawn. June 21, one hairy woodpecker on suet. At Howard Rd. wetland, one painted turtle poking around edge. June 22, at Buckingham Drive, wooden bridge over Beaver Brook. Cottontail bobbing away as fast as it could go. Heard red-winged blackbird, grackles, robin, blue jay, common yellowthroat, great-crested flycatcher, many white yarrow and evening primrose blooming. June 23, at power lines on Beaver Brook Rd., lots of daisies, white yarrow and Deptford pinks. On Forge Pond, pair of swans with at least three youngsters. In my busy birdbath on front step, four house finches enjoying water at same time, drinking and bathing. June 26, a family of blue jays around. Heard two white-breasted nuthatches. Great to have more babies around again. June 28, At Howard Rd. wetland, saw a young female wood duck in water, eastern phoebe, common yellowthroat, red-wined blackbird, catbird and tree swallow. Bullfrogs calling, various sizes of painted turtles, heads popping up in different paces. At bridge on Beaver Brook Rd. heard warbling vireo and saw swan parents with their two brown and white youngsters. Under power lines on Parkhurst, pine warbler, chipping sparrow, crow, robin, song sparrow, towhee, flicker and catbird. Yellow cinquefoil blooming now. Three red-tailed hawks circling over back woods. June 29, hummers on sugar water feeder. June 30, young downies on deck for suet. Waiting for a parent, they finally gave up and slowly began to try to figure out how to get suet. Little chipping sparrow happily picked up tiny pieces that fell onto deck, and off he went.

Kate Phaneuf, Drawbridge Rd. June 28, at the old beaver pond behind my house, spotted a couple blackbirds flying above the reeds. Two small brownish birds diving and pestering a hawk soaring above. Spent time removing oriental bittersweet from my yard. One tree had thick coils of the vine choking it. I removed it and the tree, which looked close to death, is now thriving.

July Reports:

Nancy Eberiel, Depot St. July 2, a red-tailed hawk took a bird from a shrub near the bird feeder.

Marian/Bill Harman, Chamberlain Rd. July 2, the three Carolina wren babies fledged from their nest on our porch at 9 a.m. Two of them followed their parents right through the hole in the screen, but one got confused. We went inside, and soon the parents had talked the third one through the screen too. July 22, one of the parent wrens came onto the screened porch and checked out the old nesting site.

Dot Mooney, Monadnock Dr. July 2, at 2:45 p.m., my cat had been looking out the window downstairs and then suddenly ran upstairs and out to porch to look out that window. I followed her to see the scary thing that sent her out there and saw that there was a coyote trotting along at the edge of the back lawn very near our building, alert for anything he could pounce on. Long row of sumac along back woods covered with blossoms now. Daisy fleabane and fragrant milkweed blooming beside lawn. July 6, at Howard Rd. wetland, and eastern kingbird landed nearby, waiting for an insect. A noisy female wood duck flew to far side of water. close by the water, a swamp honeysuckle covered with fragrant sticky white flowers. July 7, small cooper’s hawk scattered all the birds. July 11, hairy woodpecker feeding suet to a puffed out youngster, being watched by a little downy.

Ginger Dries, Sherwood Dr. July report, the wrens are nesting again in one of the birdhouses, female turkey here almost every day, lots of bunnies. All the regulars are at the feeder, jays, finches, chickadees, three pairs of cardinals, mourning doves, titmice and woodpeckers of all kinds. The chickadees wait right on the feeder while I fill it, not a hand length away. The hummingbirds are still here but not as frequently as before.

Diane Duane, Howard Rd.  found a six-spotted tiger beetle, beneficial to gardens. Also a nest full of small gypsy moth caterpillars. July 19, saw first monarch butterfly.

Donna Cecere, Calista Terrace. July 9, pair of lovely birds building a nest in one of my birdhouses with sticks. Very tiny brown birds with very loud song, probably house wrens.

Alan Emmet, Concord Rd. July 9, screech and barred owls heard at night–Wonderful sounds!

Kate Hollister, Vine Brook Rd. July 18, hundreds of box elder bug nymphs crawling around near a maple tree for about a week. Watched an osprey dive for fish at Keyes Pond. A scrawny grey fox crossed Vine Brook Rd. Bullfrogs are croaking at Kennedy Pond. House wrens are using one of our birdhouses. Chipmunks and red squirrels are tearing the fiber backing from our grill cover for their nest. Finally saw a hummingbird at our feeder.

Marilyn Day, Graniteville Rd. July 19, noticed a car parked on Cold Spring Rd. waiting at the intersection with Graniteville Rd. at 8:20 p.m. Then across the road out stepped a doe followed by three youngsters. They came across and went under our old apple trees

Kate Phaneuf, Drawbridge Rd. July 20, pretty swallowtail butterfly flitting around forsythia at the back of the house. Great blue heron at the beaver pond. A few blue dragonflies and a few red ones at the pond. Four large crows squabbling over a dead chipmunk by the side of the road. blueberries starting to ripen, both high and low-bush. Flowers in bloom: spotted wintergreen, yellow oxalis, fleabane, clover. July 23, goldfinches picking some of the cotton fluff from my nesting materials ball. Blue dragonflies like the rhododendrons at the front of the house. An occasional roaming turkey or two seen crossing Palace Rd. Catbirds seen at pond and yard. Fruiting bodies of all kinds of fungi: Two dark stinky ones in the woods, many little rounded orange ones, weird-shaped ones, etc.

Marilyn Day, Graniteville Rd. July 26, steeplebush is now in bloom.

Rosemarie Koester, Providence Rd. July report: robins, house finches, goldfinches, tufted titmouse, chickadee, nuthatch, several blue jays, grackles, turkeys. Two pairs of cardinals. A cardinal nest is in our forsythia bush, baby seen with parents feeding it. One baby fledged, one egg left, which disappeared by next day. Red-bellied woodpecker pair, downy woodpecker pair, rose-breasted grosbeaks here often, male female and juvenile. Many ruby-throated hummingbirds. mostly females. I have to refill the hummingbird feeder every two days. Many small birds having fun in the bird bath. Turkeys, four gray squirrels and chipmunks also drink from it. Many bunnies eating my flowers, red squirrel quarreling with gray squirrels. The chipmunks like to eat the roots of the plants on the deck.

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