Wildlife Watch by Marian Harman – September 2020


Solar Powered Logo by Bill Harman

We have certainly had a hot summer, with lots of sun. But there’s a lot to love about the sun, especially its energy! We can capture the sun’s energy in solar panels, heat and cool our homes, run our electric stoves and lights. While using lots of electricity derived from the burning of fossil fuels is expensive and hard on the environment, there is a great source of energy for home, business or church buildings–solar panels. Rooftop solar is a great way to capture the sun. But if you have a roof that cannot support solar panels, perhaps because of shade or because you live in housing that does not allow solar panels, you can still be part of the global warming solution, and save money.

Nexamp is a highly successful business, whose headquarters is located in Massachusetts. They build community solar farms in farm fields or on large, flat rooftops. Nexamp has more than 40 solar projects in Massachusetts, and now has expanded to California, Illinois, New York, Rhode Island, Maryland, Georgia, Illinois and California. Their operation supplies solar power at a guaranteed cost reduction to the users of 15%.

We live in a condo, and solar panels are prohibited on our roof. But, we can still help out by becoming a member of Nexamp. We buy solar credits from them at a reduced price.  We joined Nexamp in 2018. We still receive a bill from National Grid, and our statement reflects the number of credits we have purchased from Nexamp. This works out to a 15% reduction in the amount we pay to National Grid. In times when there is lots of sun, we may owe nothing to National Grid. Since our town also buys power at a reduced cost from Public Power LLC, we actually get two discounts. Westford is part of a 22- town aggregate that keeps costs down. The Town buys at a rate that provides 10% renewable energy, and has the option of increasing that percentage in the future. We can feel good that we are helping to support the solar industry and doing what we can to buy clean energy. Our summary from Nexamp shows that we have purchased $1594.26 in solar credits since 2018. By so doing, we have saved 18,609 lbs. of CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere. That is equivalent to 141 trees planted. We have saved $239.12 in costs. Our church, and many Westford residents are also getting solar energy from Nexamp community solar farms. Nexamp guarantees that you will receive power from one of the large solar farms in your state. Our power comes from the large solar array in Monson.

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

Late July Reports:

Bob Price, Stratton Hill Road. Blue birds nested in one if our three houses this summer. They fledged three babies.

Late August Reports:

Cindy and Meyer Franklin.  August 19, had the first black bear in our backyard in several years. I put the feeder back on top of the bear pole where it should have been. “Two movies, one of eight turkeys in yard, fawn came bounding over and chased/tried to play with them. The second movie shows two adult and four young raccoons walking towards the camera at night, came right over and sniffed at it”. [Great crittercam movies-MH]

Beth/Bruce Bonner, Plain Rd. August 26, Bobcat crossed in front of our barn and ran through backyard. August 29, birdfeeder poles bent, suet holder off in yard empty –we assume a bear came during the night. We will bring our feeders in for a few nights. Resident groundhog frequents the yard and loves my perennial bed. All six perches on the nyger seed feeder are busy all the time, with some birds waiting. Seed that spills onto the deck gets scooped up by chipmunks or mourning doves. “So cute to watch when both a chipmunk and a mourning dove walk around each other eating the seed.”

Diane Duane, Howard Rd. August 27, a great horned owl and a pack of coyotes heard. This year was very low in number of monarchs. We raised a few, ten released, four more coming. Lovely eastern black swallowtail caterpillar in my garden among the parsley and dill. Male monarch on our butterfly bush yesterday.

Mary Lyman, at Westford Community Garden. A very small green frog hiding under a squash plant. [Mary sent a cute photo-MH]

Marian/Bill Harman, Old Colony Drive. August 28, female hummingbird still here. August 30, Eight male goldfinches, three females, two hummingbirds, one juvenile grackle   , one downy woodpecker, two blue jays, one chimney swift overhead.

Julie Reid, August 30, red-tailed hawk juvenile eating a rabbit on the trail at Lakeside. It was very black and white mottled. [id. was confirmed by Mass Audubon-MH]

Diane Duane, Howard Rd. August 30, three monarch butterflies in nearby garden.

September Reports:

Marian/Bill Harman, Old Colony Drive. September 1, three blue jays, four squirrels, two grackles, five goldfinches, three mourning doves, male house finch. A walk to beaver dam: loud pileated woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, downy woodpecker, titmouse, chickadees, raven heard, female turkey. September 2, 60’s, rainy. one female cardinal, one nuthatch. September 6 eight goldfinches, some young in the trees, two young blue jays, one female cardinal one nuthatch, two adult chickadees and three or four young, two doves, titmouse, female hummingbird. September 12, two house finches, hummingbird, downy woodpecker, blue jays, eight goldfinches, one chickadee. September 14, 70’s, Sunny, hummingbird, grackle, three chickadees, three goldfinches. At the library, monarch butterfly on goldenrod, two broad-winged hawks circling and playing overhead. September 15, a polite bear took down our feeders, early evening. They were on the ground and all seed and suet eaten, but feeders not damaged at all. We have taken feeders down for a week or so.

Leslie Thomas, Old Colony Drive. September 5, three does and then a large buck whizzed close by me as I walked my dog on the grass by the trail. The deer seemed panicked.

Paul Setterhouse and Claire Barrett, Chamberlain Rd. September 6, Saw a bald eagle fly overhead this afternoon, heading SSW at about 3 pm. A difficult bird to mistake: large black underside and a white head. “We were very excited to see it”

John Piekos, Dunstable Rd. September 8, Every critter wanted to walk on the wall these past few weeks, eight species in all, squirrels, chipmunks, groundhog, weasel, bobcat coyote, gray fox, opposum, raccoon [John sent good photos from his trail camera-MH]. A bear also went through my yard. The neighbors got a photo. September 17, cooper’s hawk on the stone wall–trail camera got two good photos.

Roy Socolow, Country Rd. September 9, a small bear was trying to get to our feeder–luckily, the feeder was empty.

Barbara Theriault, driving on Lowell Rd. September 13, a turkey vulture swooped down from the trees (big wing span), and started picking at some road kill. September 22, Two black bears roamed the Tadmuck Lane and Dana Drive neighborhoods. One came to our back yard at 6 p.m. A neighbor took a photo. “Most likely the bears saw on the calendar it was the first day of fall, and that necessitates storing up food for the long winter of hibernation!” [Great attitude, Barbara! MH]

Rosemarie Koester, Providence Rd. September 18, happy to report a first for our yard–a northern flicker. “So excited about this”. September report: Many goldfinches, house finches, two pairs of cardinals and several juvenile cardinals, at least two pairs of blue jays, very noisy but happy. Downy woodpecker keeps poking at our house and getting chased away, red-bellied woodpecker at feeder, titmouse, many chickadees, a few doves, many grackles, a big red-tailed hawk sitting on a branch looking towards our feeders, hummingbirds not seen in last two weeks. “We have two bird baths outside and have never seen them used so much. Could be because the brooks have dried up in our area. The birds drink and then take baths. We have to fill it every two days it seems, even in chilly weather. Chipmunks and squirrels climb up and the turkeys, just at the right height, also have a sip. Many chipmunks, dig holes all over the yard, then come on our deck and dig holes in the flower pots. Gray squirrels at feeders, bunnies in front yard, still eating my pretty hosta plants, hawks heard flying overhead, dead baby mouse in walkway. Wasp nest in garden, many bees and wasps around our big white hydrangea and garlic chives. A bear was next door and in our yard. I flicked on the lights and that may have scared him. We bring our feeders in about 7 p.m.

Late entry: Diane Duane, Howard Rd. September 1, 11:45 pm, 2 great horned owls hooting to each other. September 5, monarch seen near Boxwood Rd. September 6, five monarchs seen on butterfly bush and nearby tree. September 7, one monarch. September 16/17, six monarchs on several flowering plants.


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