Wildlife Watch by Marian Harman – December 2018

Evening Grosbeak and American Goldfinch by Sheila Walsh

Happy New Year! 2018 was a good year for Westford wildlife watchers. Fifty-six residents sent in 1371 flora and fauna reports. Each month saw some interesting sightings. January was cold and snowy, but nevertheless blackbirds, both red-winged blackbirds and cowbirds returned to Westford on January 20. A flying squirrel was seen on Pine Hill Rd.

In February, a blond-colored gray squirrel was reported at Monadnock Drive. Another early migrant, the first woodcock, was heard on February 25 at Almeria Drive. In March we had three powerful Nor’easters, lots of snow, and power was out for three days. But birds returned in droves. A hermit thrush was seen on Hayrick Lane, thirty hooded mergansers swam on Forge Pond, American tree sparrows and bluebirds were seen in various places. A leucistic (mostly white) junco was photographed on Mark Vincent Drive. On March 29, amphibians emerged from hibernation and wood frogs and peepers were heard in vernal pools.

On April 3, turkey vultures returned. On April 8, phoebes returned. Chipping sparrows returned on April 13, and also on April 13, great blue herons returned to their Westford rookery. On that same day, the first black bear out of hibernation was reported. By April 25 dark-eyed juncos had left Westford for their northern breeding grounds. On April 28, the first ruby-throated hummingbirds were reported at feeders, and on the same day an Eastern towhee was reported at a feeder on Monadnock Drive.

On May 8, several migrants were seen and heard on Old Colony Drive, northern parula, black-throated green, and pine warblers, as well as a chipping sparrow and a gray catbird. Also on that day, barn swallows were seen on Graniteville Rd. On May 10, a rose-breasted grosbeak was reported on Old Colony. On May 11, a bobcat was seen on Drawbridge Rd. On May 17, a scarlet tanager, a veery and a Nashville warbler were heard on Old Colony. On May 14, pine and chestnut-sided warblers were heard on Monadnock Drive. On May 25, an ermine was seen on Groton Rd. In June, wood ducks were reported at Snake Meadow Brook. A great blue heron was eating chipmunks at a feeder on Providence Rd. On June 27, baby wood ducks following their mother were photographed at Forge Pond.

In July, two bats were seen at Monadnock Drive. These animals have gotten very rare here. On July 15, a gray fox was at Monadnock Drive. On July 19, three baby barred owls were seen in one tree. On July 21, a hairy-tailed mole was seen at a yard on Pine Hill Rd. In August, A bobcat was seen on Village View Rd. Two monarch butterflies were seen August 7 on Tadmuck Rd., and two more were seen on Howard Rd. These butterflies are rare now. On August 20, two ruffed grouse were spotted at Lyberty Way. These birds are now very rare in Westford.

On September 5, a black bear was reported on Concord Rd. On September 9, a red-breasted nuthatch was at a feeder on Old Colony Drive, but did not return the next day. On September 24, black ducks were reported at Hayrick Lane. Photographs showed birds that might be black/mallard hybrids. On September 25, an osprey was seen at Rome Drive, and a black bear was seen on Natalie Drive. On September 29, a monarch butterfly was seen on Lowell Rd. On October 1, a black bear raided bird feeders on Old Colony Drive. On October 4, two ravens were soaring over Monadnock Drive. On October 5, a blackpoll warbler was photographed at Forge Pond. On October 19, a jet black gray squirrel was seen at Parkhurst Drive. On October 19, a mature bald eagle was soaring over Nabnasset Lake, and a raven was seen at the Stone Arch Bridge. On October 14 and 16, a black bear was seen at Sherwood Drive. On October 21, a leucistic (mostly white) chickadee was seen on Haywood Rd.

On November 5, a red-breasted nuthatch was seen at a feeder on Hayrick Lane. Thirty doves visited a feeder on Monadnock Drive. On November 12, three bobcats worked as a family team to try to catch a squirrel climbing up a tree. On November 15, a red-headed woodpecker was reported from Lowell Rd. On November 14, a black bear visited Old Colony Drive and Dunstable Rd.

December was notable for the number of bobcat reports, seven reports from different areas of town. Evening grosbeaks visited at least one feeder in town.

Many thanks for all flora and fauna reports for the month of December. Please send reports before January 26, to appear in next month’s column. You can write me at 7A Old Colony Drive, call me at 692-3907, or e-mail me at mariancharman@gmail.com.


Late November Reports:

Lisa Groves, Main St. November 4, pileated woodpecker at woodland edge. November 24, barred owl in yard much of the afternoon. Great horned owls heard at night and early morning on several occasions this month.

Sue Bonner, Plain Rd. November 26, “The turkey saga continues”. Eleven more turkeys joined the family of three we had all summer. Fourteen turkeys now come up to three times daily, arriving about seven in the morning. They come onto the deck railing, looking out into the backyard. We now buy four bags of mixed seed at a time at Costco for birds, turkeys and squirrels. They head to the big pine trees behind our neighbors to roost at night. We have big healthy squirrels, blue jays, cardinals, woodpeckers, sparrows, mourning doves, black-capped chickadees and tufted titmice.

Esther Donlon, Providence Rd. November 26, owl sitting in a tree outside kitchen window. Saw it again on November 28, 9:30 a.m.

Debbie Prato, Hayrick Lane. November 26, hermit thrush in yard.

Peggy Bennett, November 28, at Rolling Meadow Rd. Small porcupine. Watched from the school bus with kids from Miller School as he climbed up a small tree. November 29 and 30, a larger porcupine on the lawn on the same road. At Forrest Rd., two white-tailed deer. Nabnasset St., four to six gray squirrels and one red squirrel eating from our bird feeder daily. Male and female cardinal, four white-breasted nuthatches, two titmice, six juncos, two chickadees, two blue jays, one hairy woodpecker, one mockingbird, two house wrens and a pair of  mourning doves. Red fox nosing around stone wall early one morning. He looked very healthy.


December Reports:

Debbie Prato, Hayrick Lane. December 1, Canada geese. December 8, coyote seen in the afternoon. December 24, sharp-shinned hawk.

Peggy Bennett at Edwards Ave. Earlier, a friend saw a bald eagle on Edwards Ave. Pileated woodpecker on trail at end of Sawmill Rd. At Nabnasset Country Club, seventy plus Canada Geese, two pair of mallard ducks, two mergansers, two great blue herons. Fourteen mourning doves in the sand at Mary Lou’s beach on Nabnasset Lake.

Ginger Dries, Sherwood Drive. December 1, beautiful bobcat close to the deck, 8 a.m.–first ever. Flocks of robins in the crabapple. December 21, hawk flew over, mama turkey disappeared after being here daily for months.

Michael McPartland, Dec. 2, at Rt. 40, a large coyote or coywolf crossed the road in front of the car.

Leslie Thomas at Boston Rd. Dec. 3, a beautiful bobcat at our dumpster at Coldwell Banker.

Mena Schmid, at Millpond. Saw a river otter December 4 and December 18. “It kept diving and resurfacing, putting its paws by the edge of the ice and looked like it was gulping down fish. [Mena sent a photo-MH].

Esther Donlon, Providence Rd. December 5, coyote caught on the wildlife camera, 8 p.m.

Carol Engel, Lowell Rd. December 5, three bluebirds on suet feeder.

David Fox, Hildreth St. December 7, a bobcat near the house. Looked at me calmly.

Tom Ennis, at Acker Land. December 7, turkey roosting in a tree on the other side of Stony Brook, sitting all alone on a leaning tree.

Debbie Prato, Hayrick Lane. December 8, huge coyote in yard.

Marian/Bill Harman, Old Colony Drive. December 11, twenty-one degrees. Three gray squirrels, two juncos, five goldfinches, one titmouse, one red-bellied woodpecker, one downy woodpecker, one chickadee, one titmouse, one white-breasted nuthatch. December 14, at Forge Pond, flock of cedar waxwings in a crabapple tree, lots of mallards and Canada geese, one female common merganser, two black ducks, one female goldeneye, one blue-winged teal.

Sue and Bruce Bonner, Plain Rd. December 10, fourteen turkeys have become daily visitors to our yard, once or twice a day, usually about 7 a.m., then around 3:30 p.m., for seed and water.

Sheila Walsh, Orchard St. December 11, seventeen turkeys visit every morning. Also lovely evening grosbeaks on the feeder [Sheila sent good photos of these rare visitors to Westford-MH]

John Piekos, Dunstable Rd. December 11, beautiful bobcat caught on trail camera, 4 p.m.

Mary Lyman, at Main St. December 12, barred owl in a tree [Mary sent a great photo-MH]

Emily Teller, Texas Rd. December 13, large doe in yard at 9 a.m. At feeder, many nuthatches and chickadees, about eight doves on ground and six big turkeys with fully-extended plumage. “I love living surrounded by so much life when its early winter. We are so fortunate.”

Rich Strazdas, at Oak Hill Rd. December 23, bobcat crossing in front of my car,

Katy Stokes, bobcat relaxing in a driveway on Flagg Rd.

Marcia Stokes at East Boston Camps, beavers taking down trees on the shoreline.                          We see three black squirrels in the yard.

Rosemarie Koester, Providence Rd. December 27, fewer birds at feeder. Saw goldfinch, house finch, two pairs of cardinals, two pairs of blue jays, titmouse, chickadees, nuthatch, small group of juncos, white-throated sparrows, downy and red-bellied woodpeckers, a few doves. A red-tailed hawk sat by feeders and then soared overhead. Four to six squirrels chasing each other, turkeys visited yard, chased away a lone turkey. Bobcat in back yard caught on outdoor camera, also raccoon in front yard.