Snowy owls have arrived in the New England area en masse this winter. The reason for their southern surge isn’t known, but the population may have exploded following an increase in their favorite prey, the lemming, last summer. Owls are leaving the crowded Arctic to stake out their own territory, finding their way to places such as Boston.
We first attempted to find a snowy owl on Castle Island. While we saw a number of other birds, we did not find an owl. Following e-bird reports of owls at Logan Airport that could be seen from Castle Island, we trained our camera on the edges of the runways. This is what we saw:
I went for a walk in the Arnold Arboretum yesterday to look for birds, my first such walk of the new year. The temperature was above freezing and many had come to sled and cross-country ski. I saw quite a few species near the Visitor Center. Among the birds I saw was this white-throated sparrow, all fluffed up to keep itself warm.
I also saw a couple of Carolina wrens, rustling at the base of the cattails in the meadow and visiting the birdfeeder.
Now that fresh fruit is no longer available, birds have taken to picking off what is left on the trees. Sometimes a frost or two helps soften fruit, making it more palatable. I saw a few birds visiting some fruit trees this Friday.
Cedar waxwings were all over a Korean mountain ash (Sorbus alnifolia), picking off the fruit.
I went for a brief walk in the Arboretum today. After a couple of nights where the temperature had dropped below freezing, this afternoon was bright and sunny, hitting 60 degrees. A breeze over the meadow carried with it countless cottony seeds.
The sun and its warmth made for a very pleasant bird walk this morning at the Arnold Arboretum. Most of the birds we saw were along Willow Path or near the ponds. Every species except one can be found the entire year in our area.
We took a walk through Mount Auburn Cemetery Thursday morning. We would go long stretches without hearing any birds and then, suddenly, we’d be in the midst of a birdstorm. One of the easiest birds to find was this wild turkey, whose gobble we could hear at a distance.
On Friday, I ran across a bug that looked like a red, green, and yellow shrimp. Resting on a witch hazel leaf with its posterior and head held high, this insect reminded me of a katydid nymph. v belov on BugGuide identified it as the nymph of a pale green assassin bug (Zelus luridus).
I found a stink bug nymph in the Arboretum this morning. It is probably an instar of the green stink bug (Chinavia hilaris), although it lacks the orange shoulder pads that I see in every other photo of green stink bug nymphs.