Happy New Year! I think we can say that and really mean it this year. 2021 is almost surely going to be a much better year than 2020. The days are getting longer, and more light is coming into our lives in many ways.
Westford’s wildlife and wild plants, blissfully unaware of human troubles, have provided us with many soothing and memorable moments. Forty-seven wildlife reporters sent 1169 flora and fauna reports, and many great photos to Westford Wildlife Watch.
Some notable sightings in 2020 are listed below:
In January, we had some warm days, when the temperature was in the 60’s. A bluebird was seen at a feeder on Providence Rd.. Pileated woodpeckers, sometimes in pairs, were seen in several locations. In March, migrant birds began to arrive. A goldeneye was swimming on Keyes Pond, while a flock of wood ducks were seen nearby on Snake Meadow Brook. A bobcat was photographed by a trail camera on Dunstable Rd. A pair of bluebirds was checking out a nesting box on Old Colony Drive, and another pair was nesting on Stratton Hill Road. A white-throated sparrow arrived on Providence Road. Frogs were out in the streets on March 3, and peepers were heard on March 11. On March 15, a bear was out of hibernation and pulled down feeders on Vine Brook Rd. In April, a ring-necked duck was seen on a Chamberlain Road pond, along with red-winged blackbirds, starlings, and cowbirds. Juncos started to fly north. On April 9, a spotted salamander was seen. On April 24, Eastern Phoebes arrived on Hayrick Lane. An Eastern Towhee was heard near Lowell Road. Goldfinches showed off their brighter feathers, and skunk cabbage flowers started to emerge in the wetlands. On May 4, a sharp-shinned hawk was spotted over Chamberlain Rd. On May 5, ospreys were seen using great blue heron nests off Rome Drive. On May 6, a brown thrasher was singing on Hildreth St. On the evening of May 6, an impressive “super moon” rose over the horizon, huge and bright orange. May 13, banded hairstreak butterflies, hummingbirds, and many species of warblers arrived. Indigo buntings were seen in Nabnasset. Northern Orioles were heard in many Westford locations. At the end of May, a scarlet tanager and pee-wee were heard on Old Colony Drive. A tamarack tree was found in a boggy area near Keyes Pond. On May 15, a thunderstorm with a dramatic microburst came in from the north. It took down many trees in a large swath of land from Groton, across Pilgrim Village, and Route 40. In June, lots of birds were fledging their young. Cedar waxwings were seen on Nabnasset Street. A bald eagle was seen flying over the Nabnasset Golf Club. A spotted sandpiper was seen on the shores of Lake Nabnasset. On June 13, several killdeer, a belted kingfisher and a spotted sandpiper were seen at Graystone Pond. On July 2, a veery, wood ducks, rose-breasted grosbeak, and many other migrant birds were seen and heard heard at the Emmet Conservation Land. A bear took down feeders on Providence Rd. July 14, a stoat, a female ermine, was captured on a trail camera at Dunstable Road. A mink was seen on Almeria Drive. In August, chimney swifts were seen over Keyes Pond, and swamp loostrife (the desirable native loostrife), was identified around the edge of Keyes Pond. Bobcats were reported from Plain Road, Dunstable Road and Texas Road. September 14, broad-winged hawks were seen overhead, circling and playing on their southward migration. A few monarch butterflies were seen migrating, but they have become a rarity here. In October and November, bears were reported from many locations, putting on weight at area birdfeeders before their long winter sleep. On October 3, a large flock of migrating warblers and flycatchers were filling up on insects, near Keyes Pond. In December,
Rainwater has been very low and we have had a serious drought since the spring. But the cycle of the seasons goes on, and we can all look forward to longer days and returning migrants.
Many thanks to all flora and fauna reporters for the month of December. Please send reports by 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Late November Reports:
Bill Harman, at Grassy Pond. November 24, pileated woodpecker seen.
Marilyn Day, Graniteville Road. December 1, I just noticed that the juncos are back.
Bob Price, Stratton Hill Road. December 2, a flock of bluebirds came to the hulled sunflower feeder.
Rosemarie Koester, Providence Road. December 3, lots of juvenile red-winged blackbirds in the yard. At Abbott School, a large buck seen. Dec 17 …2 deer out back of woods. Four turkeys. One was picked on by several others. As I stood there, debating what to do, two more turkeys raced by and joined in the fussing… then they all left our yard.
Lots of finches…gold finch, purple finch, house finch.
Chickadees, tufted titmouse, many juncos on ground. Nuthatch.
Two pair of cardinals.
Blue jays . About four blue jays. I put out some old peanuts which they quickly found. Swallowed one right away, followed by four more in mouth as it flew away. It is fun to watch.
Woodpecker… downy, female. Red bellied.
Surprisingly, had several young red winged blackbirds.
Other…one morning had about 20 wild turkeys walking gingerly on the snow. Sometimes they sank in. Fun to watch.
– hawk overhead
– female deer in woods, one buck
– gray squirrels
– Hajo spotted bobcat on Peace trail during his walk.
Marian/Bill Harman, Old Colony Drive. December 3, sunny, 40’s, beautiful. At feeder: blue jay, hairy woodpecker, three chickadees, two titmice, house finch pair. December 7, 26 degrees, sunny. Pair of cardinals, pair of downy woodpeckers, five blue jays, one mourning dove, fifteen juncos, one house finch, three chickadees, two titmice, one white-breasted nuthatch, five goldfinches, six gray squirrels. Dec. 17, 20 degrees, snowing all last night and today–total accumulation about 8 inches. Lots of birds are at the feeders: seven mourning doves, five cardinals (three male and 2 female), eleven white-throated sparrows, seven juncos, five goldfinches, one American tree sparrow, one song sparrow, ten blue jays, one red-bellied woodpecker, two chickadees, one titmouse.
Tom Ennis, Almeria Drive. December 7, two bobcats in the yard. I took a photo through the window, so as not to spook them. They lingered for a few minutes before disappearing into the adjacent thicket. December 11, from a Phillips Drive trail cam, a great horned owl hunting on the ground [Tom sent a remarkable video of the owl stalking something across the yard and into the shrubbery–never heard of owls hunting that way!-MH]
Elana Schreiber, Fletcher Road. December 9, mother bobcat and her three kittens in the yard–a first!
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. Check out the Trust’s website at westfordconservationtrust.org, or visit us on Facebook.