Saturday 12 October 2013

Mount Auburn Cemetery, Boston, Oct 2013

Mount Auburn Cemetery was looking exquisite today. A blush of autumn colour complimented a slight chill in the early morning air. It could have been perfect were it not for the grass-cutting and hedge-shredding that seemed to go on all day. I guess it is necessary to keep the cemetery from getting overgrown, but in surroundings that would otherwise have been so tranquil and calm, it seemed like a terrible intrusion. After reminding myself that I was in fact the intruder, I set off along the ridge that starts to the left of the gate.

I was hoping to find “birds of passage”, flying south seeking “warmer climes” and coincidentally found the first Blackpoll Warbler by Wordsworth’s tomb. A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker drilled into a juicy trunk and an American Robin sat for an autumnally themed picture.

A stand of Rhododendron bushes on a slope by Auburn Lake held Common Yellowthroat and White-throated Sparrows. A Great Blue Heron had caught a frog and was trying to swallow it. The frog was still kicking. I took one picture and moved on, a little squeamish.

The Northern Cardinals looked a little tatty today so the less seen of them amongst the leaves, the better.

A Yew bush and taller adjacent tree provided some exciting warbler watching and I spent half an hour with Betsy Neagles (1787 – 1871), trying to get a fix on the south-bound plumage. I had come without a field guide. Someone please tell me why I would do that in fall warbler season?

Actually, these ones were easy enough with Black and White Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Black-throated Green Warbler and Blackpoll Warbler. I should have thought to bring a guide though, in case of anything a bit more tricky.

I had seen the Red-tailed Hawks a number of times today, but suspect that it was the same juvenile bird each time. It allowed me a close look as it landed on a horizontal branch before flying across to the gravestone of Walter Scott Fitz and alighting there.
Rain had been threatening all morning and eventually the clouds could hold it no longer and let it all out in a rush. 

The shower was heavy, but short-lived, but by this time  I had made the decision to head home. A small flock of Golden-crowned Kinglets with a couple of Ruby-crowned Kinglets and a Red-eyed Vireo stopped me for a short damp moment on the way out.

Birds seen; 33

Wild Turkey 1, Great Blue Heron 5, Red-tailed Hawk 2, Herring Gull 4, Mourning Dove 1, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1, Downy Woodpecker 6, Northern Flicker 5, Red-eyed Vireo 4, Blue Jay 20, Black-caped Chickadee 10, Tufted Titmouse 3, Red-breasted Nuthatch 2, White-breasted Nuthatch 6, Brown Creeper 1, Carolina Wren 1, Golden-crowned Kinglet 15, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2, Hermit Thrush 1, American Robin 120, Grey Catbird 1, European Starling 40, Black and White Warbler 5, Common Yellowthroat 3, Blackpoll Warbler 8, Yellow-rumped Warbler 8, Black-throated Green Warbler 2, Song Sparrow 2, Swamp Sparrow 2, White-throated Sparrow 8, Northern Cardinal 8, Common Grackle 30, Brown-headed Cowbird 20

Harvard Square Station is on the Red Line of the subway, heading out of Boston towards Alewife. Bus nos. 71 and 73 leave from the station and take less than 10 minutes to reach the cemetery. There is a stop close to the cemetery gates and between them there should be a bus twice every 15 minutes.

For previous posts from Mount Auburn, see the links below;


  1. The bird with the frog photo is so beautiful!
    I like your photos!
    Greetings, RW & SK

  2. Strangely, yesterday I sighted a Red-tailed Hawk perched in almost exactly the same position as in your lovely photograph.