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

Friday, April 30, 2010


First kayaking of the season today - very nice, though a little windier than I thought it would be.  Saw tree swallows, red-wing blackbirds, a gull, a crow, a great blue heron, Canada geese, turtles (probably painted), and a beaver lodge.  This was on the Concord River.

Monday, April 26, 2010


There was a red squirrel dashing around my yard this morning, and I managed to get a few pics.  It was pretty cute, and was clearly watching me watch it.  There are, as usual, lots of birds around as well, but I particularly noticed a flicker and a phoebe, neither of which stayed in sight long enough for me to photograph.  But really, it is enough to know that they are around.  Yesterday I saw a fisher on the stone wall behind the house, noticed first by my daughter, and a rabbit in the yard in the late evening, noticed by my son. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


On our afternoon walk today my daughter and I took different paths around a little stand of pines.  As we neared where they joined up again, she said "Mom, come here."  Then, when I got to where she was standing, pointed toward a rustling sound about 50 yards away.  A coyote pup!  We quickly called the dog back to us and after watching 'til the pup went out of site we headed in the other direction.  There have been coyotes around here as long as we've lived here, and I've seen them on occasion, but never a baby one before.  I'd guess it was around 6 or 8 weeks old, but I really couldn't say for sure, with the distance, short viewing time, and lack of knowledge about coyotes.  I can say for sure that it was cute.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Some nice bird sightings on a morning walk today.  It was on the cool side - mid-40s, I'd guess, though I didn't check a thermometer - but bright and sunny.

I heard, and then saw when I followed the sound, a towhee.  They used to be called rufous-sided, but now are called eastern towhees.  It's not a big bird, but it has a loud and distinctive song.

And up in the field I saw a pair of tree swallows.  First I saw one flying around in the acrobatic way they do.  Then it landed in a tree.

Then I watched them fly around in the air some more.

I saw what might be their nest site.

And I watched them fly around some more, 'til they landed in another tree for a rest.

On April 4 there was a brush fire.  I don't know anything about when or how it started, and I'm thankful that we've had as much rain as we have this spring - the damage doesn't seem too extensive.  But several young pine trees got singed.  I'll be interested to see how they react over the long term.  One good thing I noticed that the fire did was to burn the buds off some winged euonymus bushes - we've got a lot of that invasive around, and I won't be sorry if some of it dies off.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I saw a great sight this morning!  Two red-tail hawks flew over my head, up high, and landed, one at a time, on a power line vertical post.  Shortly after that, one of them flew over to the second post of the pair, and the two of them sat there for quite a while.  They seemed to be watching me and my dog, and there were a lot of songbirds around as well, which could have made a nice breakfast.  It was an amazing thing to see, these two great hawks soaring overhead in the bright blue sky...  Eventually one, and then the other, took off and flew over to some nearby trees where I lost sight of them.  I wonder if they have a nest in there?  I didn't have time to go check this morning, but I will definitely keep my eyes open next time I head over in that direction.

Here's a not-too-good phone-camera shot of the two birds.  Can you see them?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


It's a lovely sunny, cool day today.  My shadbush is beginning to bloom.  Tomorrow is supposed to be even nicer than today, so maybe it will all come out.  But it looks pretty nice today, so here are some pictures.

Pretty blossoms, interesting shape, early leafing - just a great plant, and it's native!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

blue jay

I love blue jays.  They are so bright and energetic.  I know they get a bad rap for harassing other birds and stealing eggs, but I do love to look at them.  Thornton Burgess wrote that Sammy Jay's coat looked like a little piece of the sky.

All winter I've been trying to get some photos of blue jays, but they move around a lot, hardly ever sitting still for long, and my photography skills are limited, as is my patience.  Today, however, a jay landed in the dogwood tree outside my kitchen window, and stayed there for a while.  It wasn't exactly sitting still, but it was still enough and close enough that I could get some pictures.  Finally!  And they aren't half bad...

 sitting (and squeaking!)

moving to another branch

with a branch for its nest (?)

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Busy week!  Yesterday it was about 90ºF - a record for Boston, and hot for April definitely.  Today was much more seasonable, and pleasant, at around 60ºF.  Cold front moving in, and one in my head too - I hope both clear out soon!  Ninety is a little warm for my taste, but low 70ºs is pretty pleasant, and good for drying out some of that water that is still hanging around after our March rains.

All sorts of flowers are coming out, and leaves too.  The maple leaves are popping, and the shadbush and spicebush are nearly blooming.  I don't have any pics just now, but will try to get some this weekend - as I write this it is dark out.  The warmth is making the view change every day.  Of course, the lengthening days are important also, but these unusually warm spells make it all happen even sooner.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


I read somewhere that you can tell the difference between a downy woodpecker and a hairy woodpecker by the sound they make when pecking.  If the tapping is so fast you cannot count the taps, then it is a downy - a hairy taps slowly enough that you can count the taps.  I don't know if that is true or not, but I also learned (from an online video that of course I cannot find now) that the downy's beak is proportionately much shorter in comparison to its head, than the hairy's.  The links I've given above point this out as well.
I heard several woodpeckers this morning, but they were hard to find in the trees, even without leaves yet.  Finally I got a good view of a female downy (no red) up on a dead oak branch.  She was tapping away, and I couldn't keep up.  She was practically hugging the limb with her feet, and I could see, with binoculars, her tail working to help hold her in position.  The bark was still on the branch where she was, but it was clearly coming loose - I could hear different sounds as she tapped in different spots up and down and around that branch.  I watched her for quite a while, until a blue jay, perhaps annoyed by the tapping(?), swooped down and caused her to fly to another spot.

Here's a pic of a downy I saw last weekend and snapped with my phone camera.

None of the birds I saw this morning were in a good position to be photographed, but here are a couple of shots that I took of scenes that looked particularly beautiful on this bright, sunny morning.

 clover with dew

trees, moss & puddle