Weather at Bedford, Hanscom Field, MA - via NOAA's National Weather Service

Sunday, November 29, 2009


We've had some rain this week, quite a bit actually, and now some beautiful, not-too-chilly sunshine.

My desk overlooks our yard and one of the birdfeeders, so I am accustomed to seeing birds through the window, but usually songbirds. Today, a big red-tail hawk was in a tree just at the edge of the yard. She (I'm guessing - it was quite a big bird) sat there for a while, then flew to another tree nearby. My husband and I went out with our cameras (his has a good telephoto lens, but takes film images) and both of us were able to get quite close to the bird. She clearly wasn't threatened by our presence. I see them flying around here quite often, and hear them frequently, but only rarely see them in my yard, so this was a real treat.

Monday, November 23, 2009


black-capped chickadee

tufted titmouse

kinglet (golden-crowned?)

I filled all my feeders this morning. I know it isn't quite Thanksgiving, but it is a chilly, gray morning, and I had the time. And now all sorts of birds are flying around. Above are a few images. (I know they aren't very good, but I'm still learning photography, and I need a camera with a better telephoto lens.) Anyway - the kinglet is interesting because I don't think I've ever seen one before. I know they are around, but when I first saw this one I was afraid there was a hummingbird that hadn't gotten away before the cold weather hit. I think this was a golden-crowned kinglet, but I couldn't get a good look, and by the time I had my binoculars, it had disappeared, so it might have been a ruby-crowned kinglet, although that is less likely, given their usual territories and habits. As always, I'm thrilled to have seen something new!

Friday, November 20, 2009

more hawks

Two hawks were riding thermals today above the center of town as I was stopped at a stoplight. They turned and circled and swayed and swooped - beautiful aerial dancers. Their movement was so fluid and perfectly timed, it was wonderful to watch.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I was out with a class of 2nd graders today at the sanctuary where I teach, and we saw a hawk fly through the trees and land fairly close to where we were. Children of that age cannot stay quiet, at least in groups, for long, but this bird did not seem to mind. I think its thoughts were on the next meal, and we were neither good for a meal nor causing it distress, so it pretty much ignored us. I am thinking it was probably a juvenile Cooper's hawk, though it could have been a sharp-shinned hawk. There is a significant amount of difficulty in distinguishing between the two, even for experienced birders, which I am not. Birds seldom sit just so in perfect light and turn slowly so you can get a good look at them from all sides, nor will they fly slowly so you can see their flight forms and patterns. As well, I was teaching, so I could not spend as much time as I otherwise might have to study field marks. And of course I did not have my camera - though in other circumstances I could have used it had I had it with me - the bird stayed perched for quite a long time, even after our group had moved on. The kids certainly seemed interested in looking at the bird, and maybe my excitement at seeing it rubbed off on one or two of them, and he or she (or they) will keep looking for more birds.

Monday, November 16, 2009

amusing observation

I was out walking this afternoon, and noticed that my dog is pretty much the same color as the fallen brown pine needles, while his nose - gray now, since he's on in years - is the same color as the sap-covered pine cones on the ground. His belly is light, but the black that is left on his ears is similar to pine bark after a rainstorm. My pine tree dog!

And just for parity, here is our cat, at one of her birdwatching posts. She's an indoor cat. She doesn't seem to want to go out, and anyway, we lost our previous cat to a coyote.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I put my birdfeeders out on Friday. Sometimes I wait until Thanksgiving, or do it on the occasion of the first snow, but we got our first snow was WAY too early this year, and I got impatient waiting for Thanksgiving. Friday was chilly and rainy, and there were lots of birds around, so I filled two of my feeders. The birds came right away, and already I've had all my regulars - chickadees, titmice, goldfinches, nuthatches, blue jays, cardinals. And also this morning, several white-throated sparrows. There are still quite a few berries around, and even some insects, but I like to see the birds flitting around.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Summer is pretty green around here, not like California, where summer is brown. Winter is our brown time, but there are plenty of greens around in the winter here. Think of pine, spruce, hemlock, cedar and other "evergreen" trees. Also rhododendrons and their relatives, and holly.
But those are all big plants. Some of the most charming are the little ground covers.
I really like old-fashioned wintergreen. It is cute, and it smells nice, and it spreads. The dark green leaves and bright red berries are so cheerful. The woods behind my house has the traditional wintergreen, but there is also the spotted wintergreen, which is actually striped (and sometimes called striped wintergreen). I also have vinca, or periwinkle, around my house, and partridgeberry. These are both groundcovers as well, and the partridgeberry even has a postal stamp!

Here are some photos of my local flora...

Chimaphila maculata spotted wintergreen

Gaultheria procumbens wintergreen

with berries

Mitchella repens partridgeberry (left) and Vinca minor periwinkle

Monday, November 9, 2009

spring already?

Today started at 30ºF, but soon warmed up to 70ºF or thereabouts. So very nice for November! I'm reminded now that it is fall, as the sun has just about left my bottom-of-the-hill home. Still, the forecast is for nice days all week.

Here's a picture of my yard, showing that it is indeed fall, in spite of today's weather.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

green leaves

Most of the leaves are down around here now, except for some of the oaks, and the beeches of course, which keep their brown leaves on until spring. But I noticed a large shrub today that is still green. It's not a rhododendron or another evergreen, it is a pussy willow. A quick internet search gives me no information as to when they generally drop their leaves, but I'll have to keep an eye on this. Always something new!