Monday, October 29, 2007

Owl in Newton Centre

Last week, I observed a large owl at dusk in Newton Center. The owl was flying across Beacon Street near Homer, flying towards the Newton Center playground. Based on size, the owl was almost certainly a Great-horned Owl. In Newton, the Screech Owl is our most common owl. Great-horned Owls are probably also year-round residents. The Barred Owl is also fairly common in Massachusetts, but it tends to disappear from more urban landscapes. I have observed the Great-horned Owl in Nahanton Park and the Screech Owl in Cold-spring Park.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fall Asters

As we move into late fall, the Asters are beginning to falter. As I wrote in September, we have a diverse array of Goldenrods and Asters that bloom in late summer and fall. Although most Goldenrods are done blooming by now, some of the asters are hanging on. Two of Newton's most common asters of open woods, and suburban edges are the White Wood Aster and Heart-leaved Aster. The lilac-colored Heart-leaved Aster tends to bloom a bit later and is still blooming. Both of these species are quite widespread and may even be found blooming at the base of some hedgerows (privet). I have 4-5 native Aster species in my front yard, providing fall color when many of my neighbor's gardens are finished blooming for the season.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Osprey at Crystal Lake

Thanks to Carol Stapleton of Newton Parks & Recreation for reporting an Osprey at Crystal Lake today. This large bird of prey was observed hunting for fish in the lake. Osprey's have staged a dramatic recovery in Massachusetts and elsewhere in North America since the banning of DDT. Osprey in Eastern Massachusetts frequently nest on nest poles and other man-made structures. This species is apparently an uncommon visitor to Newton. I have not observed this species here, although I have observed it just across the Needham line in Cutler Park. Carol has a wonderful series of Newton Wildlife photographs available for viewing on the city's website. Other raptors uncommonly seen in Newton include the Bald Eagle and Rough-legged Hawk. More frequent visitors and year round residents include the Red-tailed hawk and Cooper's Hawk. Screech Owls and Great-horned Owls are also resident.