Middle is peckish, a look at stunning L4, and other tales in Bird World

30 October 2022

Good Morning Everyone,

The weather on the Canadian Prairies continues to be balmy. It is 10 degrees C as I write to you and it is just past 2030 Saturday evening. The one thing I enjoy so much about living in Canada is that we will never let a good weather day at the end of October pass us by. Visitors at the wetlands today were in their shirt sleeves — short ones! Everyone had come to try and spot the Tundra Swans. There were 13 of them on the water yesterday including the family that I had seen in September.

It promised to be a good day as the sound of Canada geese honking filled the sky. On the way to Oak Hammock, I passed more than one field of corn being harvested. This is a huge bonus for the geese and ducks landing here now on their way south. Lots of food and the weather is supposed to be warm and dry for several more days. The geese will have those fields cleaned up in short order.

I have mentioned Oak Hammock Marsh before but, for those that are new, here is a short description. It is a huge area of wetlands northwest of Winnipeg measuring 36 sq kilometres or 13.89 square miles. The area is owned jointly by Ducks Unlimited and the Province of Manitoba. The landscape changes from season to season and month to month. There are many educational programmes, tours, canoes, and an interpretative centre. It is one of two large nature centres near the city where I live. The other is Fort Whyte Alive. The main difference between the two is the fact that Ducks Unlimited – while restoring wetlands to protect and grow the number of waterfowl – are also proud promoters of duck hunting. That is difficult for me. At the same time, I am grateful that there are expanses of land for waterfowl instead of housing divisions or paved parking lots.

The main building has a little shop, a display of miniature ducks that have won the annual contests, lots of computers set to eBird, and walls of displays – historical finds on the land when they were building, a class room, and cases full of beautifully carved ducks. I forgot my phone or I would have images of these for you – the lens on my camera simply cannot focus that close.

We had so much water in the spring. It rained and rained and rained every day. Torrential rains. This area of the flat prairie flooded in many parts. It made for soggy earth where bull rushes grew. They grew so tall. The Red-winged Blackbirds were eating the seeds the last time I was here. Today, there was no a single one. They are on their way south!

This female Downy Woodpecker was looking for bugs and insects and flitted around the path going in and out of the shrubs. She seemed to care less if I was there with her so focused was she on finding food.

Such a gorgeous Greater Yellowlegs.

There were two American Coots towards the end of one of the trails in ‘Coot Pond’. It was also there that I found the Snowy Owl I had gone to see – one seen flying over the marsh this morning. Sadly, it was dead.

Overhead two raptors were enjoying soaring in the thermals. There are Northern Harriers that I have seen at the wetlands but, there was always only one. These two look as if they were having fun and their silhouette looks like the immature Bald Eagles in both of my books with raptor silhouettes. I just wonder if one of these might be responsible for the demise of the Snowy Owl.

I saw six Great Yellowlegs today. They were all very busy poking around at the edge of the pond looking for food.

The Tundra Swans alluded me today. That is perfectly fine. It was a joy to see them in September!

On my way home I stopped at a park that I frequent occasionally checking for Wood Ducks. I was not disappointed today. A cute little girl, about three or four years old, was feeding the ducks cracked corn – a perfect food for them! This had brought the 20 or so ducks up to a single area. Many looked as if they had already eaten lots of corn and were back in the water swimming. And the light was so strange – the water looked metallic. Everything had a reflection and this cute little female Wood Duck seems to be looking at hers. I wonder if she knows how gorgeous she is.

This Mallard couple sat so still and their plumage was so vibrant and perfect that they appeared to be decoys. And then they moved!

The golden glow of the sun as it was getting lower in the sky caught this precious female Mallard. She looks like she has been eating very well and it is time for the last of the sun’s rays to warm her.

The forecast is for it to be 18 degrees C on Wednesday. I am going to check e-Bird and see if there are any hotspots with shorebirds and ducks still in southern Manitoba!

I know that many of you have pets, perhaps more than one. One of the wonderful things about them is how happy they are to see you when you get home. Well, when I pulled up and parked the car, I could hear a sound. I didn’t recognize it at first but, then, I saw her. There was Dyson running down the branch of the tree to greet me. She said all of her hellos and beat me – she was already waiting on the deck for peanuts – by the time I sat my camera down. Now how did she know that there was an enormous sack of fresh nuts just purchased for her???

And does she know how happy I am to see her?

___________________________________________________________________

Making News:

Suzanne Arnold Horning was out and about today and she has photos of Big Red, Arthur, and L4 on the campus today. Oh, L4 looks so grown up. Remember that little one clamoring over its siblings to be right up and front at feeding time? and L4 being the first one to catch their own prey? Beautiful juvenile. I am so glad that L4 is staying in the territory. Wish this juvie had a band!

Look at those beautiful Juvenile eyes. Looks like L4 is over around the field by Highway 366.

Beautiful Big Red. Our fabulous Mama who will be 20 years old in the spring of 2023. Incredible.

This is another image of Big Red today from Ferris Akel’s tour. Isn’t she a stunner? And she has her dinner!

L4 will get her ‘red tail’ when she turns one. It is really a mark of honour for so few survive. Gradually, L4’s eyes will get darker and darker and one day she will look like her gorgeous Mum.

The Illegal trade in Song birds coming out of Indonesia. Oh, however so disgustingly sad. There are moves around the world to stop the illegal trade in birds and many places are banning the sale of parrots and other exotics to try and stop this practice. What is happening where you live?

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2022/oct/28/caged-indonesias-songbird-trade-in-pictures

We all know about Taiaroa Head where the NZ DOC take such good care of the Royal Albatross colony. Nearby is Dunedin’s Eco Sanctuary. Check out this birdwatching trip in New Zealand.

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2022/oct/31/a-birdwatching-trip-back-in-time-what-pre-mammal-new-zealand-wouldve-been-like

There was a big fire across from the nest of Harriet and M15!

Nest News:

The weather is truly miserable at Port Lincoln. It was pitching down rain and there was concern that Dad would not be able to bring any fish to the nest but, Dad is extremely dependable. If there are fish – even small ones – he will bring them to Mum, Big, and Middle. It was between small and small medium size. Middle got the first good bites and that is a good thing because at 085754 Middle got up to walk away and then turned as if he might want another bite. At 085757, Big takes exception and gives Middle a brief reminder that she is eating – and eat she did – all the rest of it! It is certainly true that things appear to be civil but, when Middle eats his fair share before Big or Big thinks Middle is going to eat all the fish, she doesn’t put up with it. There was a ‘look’ from Big at Middle at 091225 that said it all.

Oh, the family was soaked.

Breakfast arrived at 08:49. Middle will get the greatest share of the fish for the first six minutes of the feeding. Indeed, Middle will have a small crop. Middle is on the left and Big is on the right. You can see that the fish is not huge but it is not tiny either. Dad is extremely reliable.

All is forgiven as the pair try to get some warmth as the rain continues.

The rain stopped by the winds are blowing at 31 mph. It could be very difficult for Dad or Mum to bring any fish to the nest in these winds. Send this nest your best wishes, as always.

Middle is hungry. Big has gotten the lion’s share of the fish for yesterday and that was not much, just the two deliveries due to the stormy weather. So Middle was peckish and pecked – yes, he pecked Big – twice. Here are some images of the last encounter. BTW Big does retaliate but, it is not as viscious as previous times.

What precipitated the event was the sighting of a parent and the hope of some fish. The two followed and did a wee bit of fish calling. Middle puffed up real big before pecking Big —-oh, please let there be lots of fish on Monday in Australia!

At 367 Collins Street, the falcons did survive the fireworks but, at the same time, it was so apparent that Mum was frightened out of her wits. She returned to her perch above the scrape before dusk. Very grateful all is well.

It is impossible to know when the Melbourne Four are being fed unless you see them being fed at the end of the ledge above or hear them squeeeeeeing which they are doing now at 1400! I am not worried about them. These parents have done a smashing job feeding these four and learning how to care for them. ‘A’ tells me it is blistering hot in Melbourne today and the eyases know to stay in the shade. So they are eating and they are sleeping in the shade and isn’t that wonderful — all is well.

Oh, goodness they are loud! Rewind to 1404 to hear them. It is a wonderful sound. You can just picture them jumping a bit with their beaks wide open snatching that precious prey.

At 1411 one of the eyases is heard running down the gutter. Then they mantle once they get to the scrape box. They have a piece of prey and they are going to self-feed. How exciting! This wee one keeps looking back to see if anyone is coming to try and take its treasure.

All finished and the fluffy eyas is running down the gutter back to the feeding wanting more!

The Melbourne Four had their usual four feedings yesterday despite the fact that we cannot always see them. Great parenting! Glad things are now quiet.

‘A’ reports that she saw that dreadful synthetic spider web decorating a property in Melbourne for the first time yesterday. This needs to be banned before it becomes ‘the thing’ to do. It is dreadful for all the small birds and other animals including pets that can get tangled up in it.

No more had Alison said this and there is an article in The Guardian urging Australians not to adopt the spiderwebs as they continue to follow the Americans trend of Halloween.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/oct/30/is-australias-growing-love-of-halloween-endangering-our-wildlife

All is well at the scrape in Orange of Diamond and Xavier. We are so lucky that there are several cameras covering all the angles including the outside of the water tower at Orange. It gives the viewer real insight as to what is happening everywhere.

There were two feedings in the morning. At 0648 Diamond arrives with a pigeon and feeds Rubus and Indigo. Then at 1027, Xavier arrives with an Eastern Rosella Xavier will begin the feeding and Diamond will take over. She loves her Rosella, too. Just look at Indigo and Rubus. Look at their size. Gone are the days when Rubus was so tiny he could not get to the beak for food. Now it is watch out or Rubus will get it all. I do wonder if Rubus – who is four days younger and that is a huge amount of time in a falcon’s early life – is not a female.

Rubus is really getting all of the first part of the feeding. What an aggressive youngster. Reminds me of Izzi.

Rubus also gets full and goes over to the Cilla Stones making it easy for Indigo to finally get some breakfast.

But then…Rubus decides he would like some more prey. Poor Indigo. Just look at that adorable face. How could anyone ever get mad at that?

Rubus is still like a fluffy cotton ball with sparkling decoration around the edges.

Just close your eyes for a second and remember little Rubus trying to jump up and get prey and now look. Snatching it right out of the parent’s beak!

Diamond slept on the edge of the scrape box for part of the night departing sometime after 0100 to go up to the top of the tower.

The nest with prey delivery problems is Port Lincoln and that is because of the weather. The forecast is for rain and wind on Monday and Tuesday.

Thank you so much for being with me this morning. Take care everyone…and remember to work on your Bird Names Alphabet. I cannot wait to see all of the names you come up with! See you soon.

Thank you to The Guardian, Suzanne Arnold Horning for her photographs of Big Red’s family including the phenomenal beauty, L4, Ferris Akel’s Tours, Port Lincoln Ospreys, 367 Collins Street by Mirvac, and Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross.

2 Comments

  1. Linda Kontol says:

    Thanks Mary Ann for the updates on our nests and great pics and great pics and updates on your visit to see the ducks too! I know it is fun to go watch them and take the pictures too! I am so enjoying them! So glad all is still going well for the little falcons at Melbourne and Diamond/Xavier’s nest!
    Praying for the weather to get better at Porrt Lincoln so the fish can come in more often 🙏 middle does need to be cautious and not make Big too angry!
    Especially during the bad weather time.
    Thanks for the wonderful photos of Big Red and L4! Both of them are really beautiful!❤️❤️
    Thanks Mary Ann and have a great and Blessed Sunday! Hope to see you here again soon!
    Linda

    1. So glad you enjoyed the pictures and the updates…send warm wishes to our dear Middle! — Are you working on the list of names?

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