Sunday, May 27, 2012

Blossom bonanza

There are two more tree species coming into bloom at the marsh now.  The hawthorn trees are just beautiful (top photo).  Most of the ones at the marsh I believe are English hawthorn (deeply lobed, small leaves).  The bottom shot is of the one Autumn Olive tree at the marsh (Elaeagnus umbellata).  The blossoms are very fragrant, and the bees were having a heyday in the canopy.  The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Fruit Lab has given it a new name - Auntumberry, as the tree bears red berries in September which are edible and can be used to make jams & sauces.  However, in the States the tree has been placed on the invasive species list.  The berries of both of these trees are favored by birds.

Putting on a show

Here we go again, but you'll love this one.  I had never seen goslings playing like I did this morning.  It was the family of five young, although only four were in on the antics.  First they were diving under the surface, splashing all over, then they took off in a line, hollering away (top shot).  Next they moved into a circle, rising out of the water (center shot), and finally they joined mom and their sibling, still sounding off (bottom).  It was quite the performance.

Wood ducks live up to their name

I went looking for wood ducks this morning, and found (top shot) three males roosting in some dead snags, and (bottom shot) a family of chicks (mom was there somewhere) hidden in a stand of grass at the marsh's edge.  There certainly is a healthy population of these magnificent birds at the marsh this year.

Mystery brown bird

I saw this bird on Friday the same time as the yellow warbler in the last shot.  The trouble is, I can't figure out what it is!  It was about the same size as a red-winged blackbird, and it seemed to be by itself.   I'm hoping someone out there can help me identify it.

Pretty bird

Friday I was fortunate to see this female Yellow Warbler in this stand of cattails.  She is not quite as bright as the male, which is more frequently seen.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

On alert

I know, more shots of the geese.  You might think I'm partial to these common inhabitants of the marsh.  Well, you'd be right.  These are four of the family of five goslings, and the three shots tell a bit of a story.  The three families were feeding alongside the trail again this morning.  Two of the families moved into the water as I approached, but this family remained on the bank, and the young settled down for a rest (top shot).  Then along came a woman with two dogs (on leashes, thankfully), and the goslings sat up prepared to flee (middle photo).  After the dogs had passed, and mom had moved closer, they settled back down again (bottom).

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Early bloomer??

I didn't expect to encounter this on the trail this morning, but sure enough, right in the middle of the path was this painted turtle.  I stood and watched it for some time to see what it was going to do.  It eventually moved down the path a short ways, then off into the grass.  I presume it was preparing to dig a hole and lay its eggs.  Although it seems a little early for egg laying, perhaps the warm temperatures have effected it just as plants have been early with their blooming.

Kids will be kids

The three families of geese were feeding alongside the trail when I first met them this morning, then they swam towards the upper end of the marsh where it has become quite mucky.  The goose with her five young waded into the muck after I took the top shot.  The bottom shot shows the five goslings feasting on young shoots, with their lower bodies coated in muck.

Hiding in plain sight

Coming around the corner by the little pool beside the trail this morning I almost missed this little leopard frog (I would have missed it if a friend passing by hadn't noticed it move).  You can see how easy it would be to miss it by how well it blends into its surroundings.

Wood duck explosion

I saw the wood duck hen with her brood of 13 again this morning (top shot).  Then, way out on the water, I found this new wood duck family - with 10 young (bottom shot).

Monday, May 21, 2012

Well-hidden nest

I stood near the edge of the marsh in the wooded area for a while this morning, watching two male red-winged blackbirds move back and forth from snag to snag, scolding me.  I discovered why they were scolding me when I spied this female move into a clump of grass that sits close to the water's edge.  I thought there just might be a nest in that clump, and when I got a closer look at the photo I realized, to my delight, there was!  The first red-winged blackbird nest I've ever seen.

Early bird with worm

This morning I watched this robin catch and eat an insect, then this worm, then it dug up another worm and flew off with it, presumably to feed its nestlings.  Both sexes feed the first batch of young until the female begins to incubate her second brood, usually in early summer, then dad takes over the job of feeding the fledged young of the first batch.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ducklings galore

I came across two new duck families this morning, first the wood duck family at the top - she had thirteen in total.  I just recently learned it is not uncommon for two wood duck hens to lay eggs in one nest, giving the impression that one bird has an especially large brood.  I have seen wood duck females with as many as 18 young, and this may be the explanation. 

The bottom shot is of a black duck family - I think there were ten in her brood.  You can see the marked difference between the two families in the way the young behave.

A painted pile

The painted turtles were out in full force this morning, taking advantage of the day's warm sunshine.  It's evident that these have been swimming in the duckweed.

And then there were four . . .

I'm pretty sure this is the pair of Canada geese that had five young hatch out recently - however, this morning there were only four.  The other pair with the single gosling were feeding on the little round island, while several odd fellows were having a noisy discussion in the water - which these two were keeping an eye on.

Postscript  21 May - Thankfully, I was mistaken in thinking the above family was the one that originally had five young, as this morning I met all three families together: one with five, this one with four, and the third with a single duckling.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Owlet in the grass

This is something you don't see every day, or even once in a lifetime, for that matter.  I didn't see it at the marsh, I'll say that up front.  Nor is it in town, but that's all I'll say about its location.  It's a Great Horned owlet which may have left its nest prematurely.  It's been in the same vicinity for over a week now.  The adults have been seen a number of times, so they are most likely tending it and will continue to do so until it can fly and then for a few months after that. 

Passing stranger

Here's a a couple of shots of a bird I saw at the marsh today that personally I've never seen before, that I'm aware of at least.  It's a White-crowned sparrow.  Apparently they are uncommon transients, especially on their spring migration.  These likely are on the way to their breeding grounds in Quebec or possibly northern Newfoundland.  It's always exciting to see something new at the marsh.  That's the beauty of the place, you never know from one day to the next what you might discover.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Birth announcement

Two of the Canada geese pairs have hatched their broods since the last time I posted.  The pair with five goslings is the pair that were nesting on the round green island.  I never did see where the other pair - with the single babe - nested.  They may be younger birds, as the younger ones are more apt to have fewer offspring.

Singing in the sun

The yellow warblers were singing their hearts out at the marsh this morning.  This one was adding his voice to the chorus as I walked past.  He actually stayed in one spot for at least a minute which is unusual for these birds.

Laying low

I searched for the male wood ducks this morning, and found this one roosting on a log in a sheltered location (I assume the hens are all nesting).  It isn't easy to get close to them, as they seem to spot the slightest movement.  This male, along with another which I hadn't noticed, flew away shortly after I took the shot.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The songsters have returned

The warblers have arrived at the marsh.  I heard the yellow warbler at the top before I saw him.  He was moving from limb to limb and tree to tree in the grey birches as I attempted to get a shot.  The reddish streaks on his flanks are quite visible here.  The bottom shot is of a male yellow-rumped warbler in its bright breeding plumage.  They were just about everywhere you looked this morning.

An expectant pair

The tree swallows are in nesting mode, as can be seen with the bird entering the nesting box here, with nesting material in her beak.   Most of the nesting boxes at the marsh seem to have activity around them, so there should be a good crop of swallows this year.

May is busting out all over!

I had to get a shot of these beautiful black cherry blossoms, obviously at their peak of bloom.  In the background can be seen the young greenery of, right to left, a willow, a hawthorn, and a choke cherry.  Against the bright blue of the sky, what a sight!

Permanent residents

I caught these three deer moving through the marsh this morning.  There aren't many places in town that they don't frequent at one time or another.  This shot shows a view of the French Basin, with the village of Moschelle in the background.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Nesting or not??

Now this is a sight I like to see.  I missed seeing this osprey on my round this morning.  But when I met a friend who asked if I thought the osprey was nesting, I backtracked and got this shot.  She was the second person who had mentioned seeing an osprey on the platform in the past week.  In all the years I've been walking this trail, I've never seen an osprey build a nest here.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the bird is seriously considering settling in.

Mom's the word

I've been watching for the arrival of the female red-winged blackbirds.  The males arrive first and set up their territories, joined a few weeks later by the females.  This morning was my first sighting, although they probably have been here for a couple of weeks.  This female was poking around among the reeds, perhaps looking for nesting material.

Sun bather

As I began walking the trail this morning, some kind of large insects kept flying out of the grass from both sides of the path.  I finally realized they were red admiral butterflies, and I think they were likely feeding on the dandelions that covered the grass.  Apparently Ottawa had an invasion of them just recently.  I caught this one basking in the sun on the back of one of the benches.