Wildlife Watch by Marian Harman – October 2022


Trail by Keyes Pond by Marian Harman

Fall in New England! Just the sound of that phrase brings visions of New England’s most glorious days. I feel very lucky to be living in this lovely town at this most lovely time of the year. A walk on a trail on a sunny fall day is a blissful experience. Its all about color. The trail is covered in the golden leaves of birch and aspen, and the scarlet leaves of red maple. Blueberry bushes have turned a dark red, and viburnum shrubs sport purple leaves and dark blue berries. Winterberry and partridgeberry shine with scarlet berries. Purple and white asters bloom among the bright green tufts of moss which surround tree roots. Up from the forest floor, pop mushrooms of all hues–purple, yellow, tan and russet red. The sky is a pure blue. The lake and stream reflect the brilliant reds, yellows and purples of the  trees. When walking through the damp woods, the peaceful, sweet fall smell of wet leaves permeates the air.

To cap it all off, bird calls fill the air. We hear the excited honking of Canada geese on the wing, the high chips of myriad warblers and kinglets that are stopping by to grab a quick meal on their way south. Crows and jays scold barred owls. We hear the descending cry of the red-tailed hawk, circling above. And our faithful resident birds are joined by our new winter visitors, dark-eyed juncos, white-throated sparrows, American tree sparrows, and this year a special treat, red-breasted nuthatches.

When we lived for a few years in southern California, our friends there asked why would we want to move back to Massachusetts? We answered, “We need the seasons in order to be happy”. Once a New Englander, always a New Englander, I guess.

Many thanks to our flora and fauna reporters. Please send reports by November 30 to be included in next month’s article. You can write me at 7A Old Colony Drive, call me at 692-3907, or e-mail me at mariancharman@gmail.com.


October Reports:

Marian/Bill Harman, Old Colony Drive. October 1, 50’s, rainy. A phoebe is sitting on top of the feeder pole–surprise. October 2, 50’s, NE wind from hurricane Ian. Quite windy and cool, partly sunny. It feels like winter coming on. A walk to the meadow: the meadow has been mowed. A flock of flycatchers and pine warblers are picking through the grasses for seeds. At the feeder: pine warblers, 4-6 titmice and chickadees, blue jays. 10-11 house finches are sitting on our deck railing, downy woodpecker. October 7, 70’s, sunny–summer again! At feeder: one downy woodpecker, 1 white-breasted nuthatch, 1 chickadee, 1 goldfinch. October 8, 50’s, sunny. A walk to the Stone Arch Bridge. Saw about 30 white-throated sparrows eating plant seeds. They are not afraid of us; seem to be very hungry. October 9, 50’s–first junco here. October 10, 60’s, partly sunny. Two white-breasted nuthatches, two red-breasted nuthatches (first time seen at the feeder), chickadee, two titmice. October 11, red-bellied woodpecker, one female cardinal, several chickadees, one tree sparrow, one junco, two titmice, one house finch. October 13, a bear took down our feeders after dark–our fault for not bringing them in on time. We’ll keep them down for awhile. October 14, sunny, 60’s, a walk to the beaver dam: Gorgeous day! The theme of this walk is “Colors”. Saw or heard: chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches, tufted titmice, blue jays, mourning doves, red-tailed hawk, cardinal, downy woodpecker, red-bellied woodpecker, song sparrow. Yellow birch and aspen leaves carpeting the trails, punctuated with red maple leaves, red blueberry bush leaves. One or two low-bush blueberries are blooming again! Witch hazel is blooming: yellow, spidery blossoms right on time. Purple viburnum leaves, red berries on winterberry bush, and partridgeberry. Russet mushrooms popping up. October 20, 60’s, sunny, beautiful. A walk on Mass Electric line by old highway garage and Stony Brook. Good birding: on Stony Brook a mute swan, six Canada geese, five mallards, pair of wood ducks took off. Along electric line: several juncos, blue jays. Bald eagle overhead, turkey vulture overhead, robins, several juvenile swamp sparrows, one winter wren, red-bellied woodpecker, chickadees, ruby-crowned kinglet. October 21, 60 degrees, sunny. A walk on the beaver dam trail. Lots of birds: Titmouse, chickadees, brown creeper, white-throated sparrows, white-breasted nuthatches, red-breasted nuthatches, downy woodpecker, belted kingfisher, common raven, several winter wrens, blue jays, American goldfinches, golden-crowned kinglet, dark-eyed junco.

Jody Ross, at East Boston Camps. October 8, a flock of cedar waxwings seen in a tree.

Peggy Bennett, at Lake Nabnasset. October 8, bald eagle seen twice. A bald eagle soared overhead in Westford center.

Michael Berry, Rush Road. Lots of red-breasted nuthatches seen this fall.

Rosemarie Koester, Providence Road. October Report: chickadees, titmouse, blue jays, one pair cardinals, lots of goldfinches, house finches and purple finches. Grackles came back, downy and red-bellied woodpeckers. Oct. 20, first junco spotted. Hawk sitting on top of feeder, no birds around. Turkeys came by sporadically, never saw babies or young. Bunnies eating my hosta plants, Gray squirrels, lot of chipmunks. Seen on camera at night: pair of raccoons, bobcat in driveway, 5:30 p.m. At Stone Arch Bridge Trail: October 19, About six colorful mallards. Several types of mushrooms along the trails, batch of partridge berries, burning bush turning red, milkweed plants–some leaves eaten.

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