Monday, April 30, 2012

Fine-feathered pair

A few days ago I encountered this pair of mourning doves on the rail bed.  I see them occasionally along here, pecking in the gravel.  Their diet is composed almost entirely of seeds, but apparently they need a certain amount of grit to aid in digestion, just as chickens do. 

Chow time

I haven't had many sightings of muskrats so far this spring, so I was happy to come across this fellow feeding on marsh greens this morning.  His long, sharp front claws can be clearly seen in this shot.

Taking a break

Mother goose was off her nest this morning when I walked the marsh trail, although she didn't go very far.  She fed while her mate kept careful watch.  It'll be another two weeks probably before her eggs hatch. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pond life plus

I felt certain the summer-like weather yesterday would bring out the turtles, and I wasn't disappointed.  Especially since I spotted this little fellow, no more than 3 inches in length.  I wouldn't be surprised if it was a hatchling from an over-wintered egg.  It's the smallest one I have seen to date at the marsh.  (Note the snail at the lower right hand corner of the shot.)

What I also discovered yesterday, in the same small pool below the sewage lagoon, were these two tadpoles, just below the surface of the water.  They are probably bullfrog tadpoles.  Apparently bullfrogs don't reach the adult stage until their third summer after hatching.

Nature's bug control

Yesterday I finally got a shot of one of the tree swallows that have returned to the marsh.  It's a delight to watch their aerial displays as they feed over the water, and to hear their cheery conversations. 

Stranger in our midst

I didn't take this shot, my son did, last Sunday afternoon, and it wasn't taken at the marsh but on the Annapolis River.  I wanted to include it here as I've never seen one of these birds before, and I imagine not many people have.  It took some time for us to identify the bird, but we're almost certain it was a red-throated loon.  Apparently they are seen here in the province in the spring and again in the fall, during migration.  They breed in the far north and winter along the Atlantic coast.  This one is not in breeding plumage, so doesn't have its red throat yet.

Little bird, big sound

I mentioned I had been hearing the pied-billed grebes for a while, but hadn't seen one.  On Sunday I got my first sighting, and as luck would have it, was able to get a shot of it while it was making its distinctive throaty call.  It seemed as though the sound was made in its throat - in this shot, you can see the throat is distended - but apparently the beak does open as well, as I saw when I viewed this YouTube video of a grebe in full voice:                 

Tapping in the tree tops

On my walk last Sunday, I heard the tell-tale sound of a woodpecker, and located it at the top of this dead poplar tree.  As you can see, the tree has been well explored for grubs and other tasty tidbits that live in the dead tissues of the tree.  I'm pretty sure this is a hairy woodpecker. but I couldn't get close enough to make a definite identification.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A new partnership??

I found Mother Goose sitting on her nest yesterday, but didn't see Dad until I got to the other side of the trail and found him feeding on the bank.  As I approached he slipped into the water and swam over to join his mate.  I'm not absolutely sure it is the same gander, as he does not seem to keep as close to the goose as in previous years.  Also, he doesn't swim towards me when I talk to him, as the older bird usually did.  I thought last season he didn't appear to be as chipper as usual.  Perhaps something happened to him over the winter, and the goose took a new partner.  Or of course I could be completely wrong!  At any rate, by  mid-May we should be seeing a new crop of goslings.

I saw a male Northern Shoveler a few days ago, and have been hearing a Pied-billed Grebe, but no sightings as yet, as they're hidden in the phragmites.  And the Tree Swallows have arrived!  I had begun seeing clouds of midges in the last few days, so knew it wouldn't be long before the swallows made an appearance.  I hope to get some shots of them tomorrow.

Friday, April 6, 2012

A promise of new life

I know this is the time for Easter eggs, but there are other kinds of eggs that some of us nature-minded folk are interested in at this time of year.  In my case it's those of the waterfowl that inhabit our local marsh, especially the Canada geese that have made it their nesting ground for several years now.  When I approached the little island in the marsh's centre this morning, I saw who I call 'Mother Goose' plucking down from her body to line her nest in the island's centre, the same spot she has used for several seasons.  So the cycle begins anew . . . how Easter-like!

Today's tally

I thought I'd better check the marsh this morning for any new arrivals, since by the sounds of things the weather might not be very conducive for marsh walking for a bit.  Many buffleheads are scattered throughout the marsh, with courtship displays in full swing.  I couldn't help but laugh out loud while watching a pair of males strut their stuff in front of a seemingly inattentive female this morning.  Several black ducks and ring-necks were resting on the little round island in the middle of the marsh, but the other inhabitants took a bit of sleuthing to find.  It paid off, as I found one male American wigeon (top photo) sounding its two-note call, two pairs of wood ducks, and one male green-winged teal.  I'm sure there are more about, just keeping a low profile.