The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 23, 2003


Few birds seen on coldest ever Spring Bird Walk

Thirteen intrepid birders, bundled up in winter coats and gloves, turned out at 6 o'clock on Sunday morning May 18 for the thirty-second

Uppermost in our minds (after how to keep warm) was the fate of the Bobolink population. After declining steadily over the last three years, have they finally been extirpated? The answer was no, they are just barely hanging on. Two males were found, same as last year, and one female was seen. One change noted in the vegetation of the field was the scarcity of small scattered bushes in the grass, which the birds are fond of perching on. A strategy for keeping the Bobolink population would be to mark out a section of the field for Bobolink breeding and neither mow nor graze it for two or three years. Then it could be grazed while another section was so protected.
Two pairs of Eastern Bluebirds were nesting in the "Tree Swallow" boxes all over the field. Closer-together placement of the boxes in pairs would probably be advantageous to the bluebirds.

Warbler migration was practically non-existent. With the strange, mostly cold and occasionally hot weather in late April and early May, they probably dribbled through without a large concentration. Another possibility is that the main wave was yet to come. In any event, migrants were represented only by a well-seen Yellow-rumped Warbler and a bit of a Northern Parula's song.

In contrast, several resident warblers that breed in Carlisle were in and on territory. A Blue-winged Warbler (not found last year) was seen by all making its insect-like bzz-buzzzz call in the clearing in the westernmost corner of the land. Ovenbirds were calling in the woods, and one obligingly walked across the trail and was well seen by part of the group. Heard but not seen were Pine Warbler, Common Yellowthroat and Northern Waterthrush.

Other birds found as the sun shone brightly and the air warmed were three Great-crested Flycatchers in the woods, seven Eastern Kingbirds in the field, a Red-eyed Vireo, a brilliant Scarlet Tanager at the edge of the woods, 11 Baltimore Orioles, and a Savannah Sparrow between the pond and the field. Heard but not seen were Brown Creeper, Wood Thrush, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Two fly-bys were a Wood Duck and a pair of Mallards. Only one raptor was seen · a Broad-winged Hawk flying north from the woods at 9 a.m., directly over the last few observers in the field, over Westford Street, and out of sight. Altogether 44 species were seen or heard, two more than last year.

For the first time in many years, no sign could be found of that rare wildflower, fringed polygala, that grows in the woods along the inner loop trail. This was probably another manifestation of the weird weather, since lady-slippers were not yet blooming either.

2003 The Carlisle Mosquito