Wildlife Watch by Marian Harman – February 2023


Red-winged Blackbird by Doug Pederson

Happy Spring? Lately, I’ve been having fun writing poetry, mostly about my walks. They are “prose poems”, they have no rhyme and no meter. In this free form, I can just concentrate on describing my senses and emotions as a “stream of consciousness”. If you write poetry, or want to try it in any form, I’d love to have you send your work to Wildlife Watch. Here’s my most recent nature poem:

An Early Spring Walk in Late February

I plan to take a walk in the forest today.

I don’t want to go, really; I’m feeling down.

The day is cold, breezy, cloudy, my aching joints hunger for sun.


But, I’m called out by the first red-winged blackbirds of the spring.

“Conk-a-ree! Conk-a-ree” I hear,

As I make my way slowly down the hill towards the frozen wetlands.


The flock explodes upwards, startled by my appearance.

These are the early migrants and perhaps they will fly farther North.

Others, perhaps, will arrive here soon to weave their nests among the cattails.


I choose to walk alone, so that I can hear, see, smell everything.

The trees are wafting their healing compounds to others of their kind;

And I can partake too, by breathing deeply.


Green spears of skunk cabbage leaves

Poke up from the wetland.

I wonder if I have missed their red hoods, the first flowers of the season.


The brook is partially melted and running well now.

The cardinal, chickadee and titmouse are singing courting songs.

My mood has changed; my brain is alert.


As I climb the hill towards home,

My joints are unfrozen, my legs feel strong.

I send a note of thanks to the blackbirds.


Late January Report:

Peggy Bennett, at Mill Pond. Four river otters on the ice eating a fish, probably a family. Nabnasset St., Red-breasted nuthatch coming down a tree.

February Reports:

Marian/Bill Harman, Old Colony Drive. February 3, fifteen degrees, windy, sunny. We are having a “polar vortex” cold snap. As I fill the hulled sunflower feeder, a red-breasted nuthatch lands on it, looks at me holding the feeder, and took a seed! February 4, it is four degrees below zero this morning. At the feeder: eleven goldfinches, three chickadees, one white-breasted nuthatch, a pair of cardinals, six blue jays, four juncos, two downy woodpeckers, one American tree sparrow, pair of red-bellied woodpeckers, one titmouse, one red-breasted nuthatch, three house sparrows, two mourning doves. Feb. 10, 56 degrees (that’s New England for you). February 15, fifty degrees, sunny. At Grassy Pond, two pairs of hooded mergansers, four pair of mallards. February 16, 50’s, the grackles have arrived. February 24, 24 degrees, 5 inches of snow fell. At feeder: six goldfinches, three chickadees, one titmouse, three mourning doves, one downy woodpecker, two blue jays six juncos, a pair of cardinals, one white-throated sparrow. February 25, 14 degrees, cloudy. At feeder, three blue jays, a pair of cardinals, four house sparrows, one chickadee, three juncos, one dove, three goldfinches, one downy woodpecker, two titmice, one white-throated sparrow, and a great treat, one fox sparrow.

Peggy Bennett, at  Town Farm Rd., February 4, a pair of bluebirds, sparrows, juncos, cardinals, nuthatch, titmice, one mockingbird. Forge Pond, February 18, sixty-six common mergansers, swimming, diving and flying! Nabnasset St. four bluebirds lined up on the fence. February 16, white-tailed deer and air of cardinals in the yard.

Gerry DiBello, Court Rd. February 17, 60 degrees and rainy. Two dozen red-winged blackbirds arrived.

Rosemarie Koester, Providence Rd.  February Report: Cardinals, goldfinch, house finch and purple finch, four to six blue jays , about 6 doves, juncos still here, friendly chickadees, tufted titmouse. Red-breasted nuthatch newly seen this month—last seen here five years ago, wren, several grackles, white-throated sparrow, chipping sparrow, downy and red-bellied woodpeckers, grey squirrels, a few chipmunks on the warmer days, large rabbit under the bird feeders. Feb.17, several red-winged blackbirds arrived.

Tom Ennis, Almeria Drive. Feb. 17, a big, healthy-looking coyote posed for the wildlife camera. He perhaps heard the click of the shutter, which stopped him for a moment.

Diane Duane, Howard Rd. Feb. 25, 11 Red-winged Blackbirds, 4 cardinals, 4 bluebirds, and 8 juncos at feeder today.


Many thanks to all flora and fauna reporters for the month of February. Please send March reports by March 31 for inclusion in next month’s column. You can call me at 692-3907, write me at 7A Old Colony Drive, or email me at mariancharman@gmail.com.


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