“We need to protect all species while they are common so that they do not become rare.”  

Rosalie Edge urged everyone, in the quote above, to appreciate all of the birds (and other species) that are part of our daily lives. Edge knew that what is once common can go extinct quickly if we do not begin conserving the species when it is abundant. That is precisely why she purchased Hawk Mountain and why the continuing migration counts matter. If you count then you can plot a decline or a rise. If you don’t count, you never know. I will add that if you do not put a sat-pak on an Osprey chick in Port Lincoln, you will not know how far the fledglings travel from the natal nest. Solly’s tracking information confirmed that they venture much farther than ever imagined! Tiaki is more than half way to Chile today. She is making excellent progress. It is also comforting to see those GPS monitors moving on all the migratory birds including the Black Storks from Latvia and Estonia. We learn, we appreciate, we treasure what we have in front of us and take care of it.

This is the article I was reading from the online Audubon Magazine. It is a Canadian who has gone to look for Snow Geese and, instead, gets fields of Canada Geese.

http://www.audubon.org/news/an-ode-common-birds-and-cherishing-what-weve-got?ms=digital-eng-social-facebook-x-20211000-nas_eng&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=20211000_nas_eng&fbclid=IwAR1IgW1HN7CnFVTuog07daZxKTAyrr_n5CSuRACCHXMVyz2B1H-QhzxFDzE

It is a good read. I love my sparrows and the regulars to the garden and rejoice in the seasonal visitors but it is the sparrows, the 3 Blue Jays, the 1 Black Capped Chickadee, and Mr and Mrs Woodpecker that are my regulars. And, then, of course, there is Mr Crow and the Squirrels. They keep me busy and happy when all the other exotics are gone to their winter homes. So have a read, it is short and really has a couple of good ‘hitting home’ messages.

If you did not see, boots on the ground in the Sydney Olympic Park around the Parramatta River report that WBSE 27 and 28 have been seen and heard them. This is excellent news. I hope that someone will get some good photos of these two. Wouldn’t it be grand if they did survive against the odds? Oh, I hope so.

This is one of the best video clips I have seen of the Collins Four. Dad, that little cutie, arrives with the pigeon meal. Two of the eyases are out of the scrape and into the gutter. The largest one – has to be a really big female – is ready to eat. Notice how she stands up erect and walks with her feet! Getting out of the scrape box, for the other two, is a little easier than getting back. Dad just seems to get smaller every day! Enjoy.

Yurruga is just waking up with a big yawn in the scrape box on the water tower of Charles Sturt University in Orange.

Xavier brings a completely unprepped bird into the scrape box for Yurruga. This might make a mess and the little one might be urging Xavier to hurry and finish but that chick is watching and it will be learning how to do this plucking itself.

Yurruga has a really loud screaming voice when it wants food. My goodness they can probably hear the little one clear across the campus.

The screaming for breakfast has stopped. Yurruga will be very full if it eats all of that Starling!

Yurruga ate all of the Starling except for the head and is stuffed!

Oh, wait! Xavier wants the chick to eat all of the bird. So here goes all of that Starling!

Xavier, that was an excellent feeding!

The trio at Port Lincoln are still sleeping. No doubt Dad will have a fish on the nest soon.

It looks like everyone is doing very well, indeed. That is fantastic. If you have been waiting for the Dyfi on line Shop to open in Wales, it is now functional. Emyr Evans’s book on Monty is for sale.

Thank you so much for joining me. Take care everyone. See you soon.

Thank you to Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam at Orange and Cilla Kinross and 367 Collins Street Falcons by Mirvac for their streaming cam where I took my screen shots.

Gorgeous day for birding

It is a gorgeous day today. 24 degrees C. We still, for at least today, have summer weather. This meant seeing new and old friends today at the park. There were at least 12 male Wood Ducks, as many females, a host of female and a few male Mallards, and, of course, Canada Geese.

This adult male Wood Duck with its distinctive red eye and green helmet thought that I might have some seed for him to eat. He did not seem to want to take ‘sorry’ as a proper answer.

The duck below is all wet from diving around in the park stream.

Their plumage is absolutely outrageously gorgeous.

There were a few adult female Wood Ducks but not nearly as many as the males at Kildonan Park today. Because there are issues with identification between the juveniles and those in eclipse, I have come upon a bit of a foolproof method for me. The duck below is an adult female Wood Duck. She lacks the red iris and eye ring of the adult male; she does have a yellow eye ring and a distinctive white eye patch. Her bill is dark. I do not want the iridescent green on the top of the head to fool me. This bird is lacking in the 2 pale lines from the throat extending around the neck and onto the cheek. To see those, look at the images of the adult male.

There were a number of Mallards, both male and female.

All of the animals were having a wonderful morning around the duck pond. There were many who brought specialty bird seed just for them. Others, like this little Red Squirrel, were finding acorns and seeds in the grass.

As I was sorting through these images to show to you, there were several knocks on the front door. Several times I went out and no one was there. There are times that sounds carry but, then the knocking got louder and louder. This time I caught the visitor! My house is covered with cedar shakes. It looks more like a cottage in a forest but there is someone who loves those cedar shakes. When I opened the door he flew to the apple tree.

Unfortunately the automatic focus set its mind on the leaves and not on the woodpecker! And she was not certain that he wanted his picture taken or not.

I say ‘she’ because that gorgeous read crest would extended all the way down to the bak if this were the male. But, it is not, it is a female.

You can see that its body is mostly covered in black feathers with a flaming red crest. There is a white throat and its beak is a long dagger shape sadly hidden by the leaves. This particular Pileated Woodpecker lives around my garden year round (and the neighbour hood). She will make her nest in the cavity of a dead or dying tree lining it with wood chips. When she is knocking on my cedar shakes she is looking for ants, wood-boring beetles, and insect larvae. She also likes berries and nuts and I have seen her on the large suet cylinder as well as the telephone pole drilling away. The woodpeckers particularly like the bug and nut suet if you are trying to attract them.

I am particularly concerned for both this Pileated Woodpecker and the male and female Downy that live around my garden. My city has sprayed orange dots on two of the 119 year old Maple Trees in front of my house on the boulevard. If they are to cut them down, is one or both the home and nest of the woodpeckers?

The Grey Slated Juncos are still here today along with a few White Throated Sparrows and Song Sparrows.

It is easy to tell the White-throated Sparrow because of that distinctive white patch under the beak forming the throat – hence, the name. There are also two black bands and three white on the crown along with two very distinctive yellow patches above the eye. The White-throated Sparrows come to Manitoba to breed during the summer. By the end of the month, all of them will be gone to their winter homes.

The Song Sparrow comes to Manitoba also for summer breeding. Soon they will also be away on their journey south. For now, a few are in the garden scratching around the grass and leaves for insects and bug larvae. They are beautiful with that plumage of rust and grey with streaks of white.

It has been a lovely day. I have it on good authority that all of the nestling falcons are fine as are the osplets at Port Lincoln. Yesterday, they once again had 7 feedings! Speaking of feedings, the list of what Mum and Dad have brought in for the Collins Four is anything other than 99% pigeon. This year they have averaged 7.4 prey items per day with 3 being the lowest number of deliveries and 11 being the highest. They have had pigeon, New Holland Honeyeater, Rainbow Lorikeets, Quail, Silver-eyed Gulls, Sparrows, Spotted Pardalotes, Starlings, Wattlebirds, and a White plumed honeyeater. This is quite the surprise. Normally the urban falcons exist primarily on pigeon. I wonder if the people in Melbourne are no longer feeding the pigeons so that the falcons have to look to other species? In Orange, the diet is varied with lots of parrots and Starlings.

A late delivery yesterday was a green parrot. I do not specifically recognize the ‘type’ but will try to find out.

The only streaming cam I have not checked on today is the one for the White-bellied Sea Eagles. Indeed, WBSE 27 was jumping all over the tree and it or both might have fledged. I will alert you if this is the case.

Thank you for joining me. I hope you enjoyed the ducks! Take care. See you soon.

Thank you to the Collins Street Falcon Cam by Mirvac where I took my screen shot of the delivery of the green parrot.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving from my garden to yours

It is 17 degrees C, clear blue skies, and the birds are chirping their heads off. After two days of grey damp rain, everyone is happy to celebrate and we are all thankful for the wonderful weather.

Thanks to the birds or squirrels there are sunflowers popping up around the planters. The Vermillionaires are for the hummingbirds, and the Cosmos for the bees and butterflies. The thicket in the back of the garden is a favourite place for hiding or cooling off.

I am thankful to each of those that live in or visit our garden every day. There are three different Blue Jays, one Red Squirrel (Little Red), three Grey Squirrels (Baby, Scraggly, and Monk), Mr and Mrs Wood Pecker (he is missing from the images today), Mr Chickadee, and Hedwig, the garden rabbit.

The joy they bring is immense. The Blue Jays have been demonstrating the many ways to clear the kernels off their corn cobs before Scraggly takes the entire cob. Everyone else has also had special seed or suet over the weekend to thank them.

It seemed that half of our City was at the local park today enjoying the beautiful weather and having picnics instead of big elaborate dinners. You could hear laughter all around the pond. Sadly, there was one female Mallard that has a broken wing. I am waiting for someone to bring me the proper pole with netting and we will be out to attempt a rescue to Wildlife Haven.

Of things to be thankful for today, is not only the joy that all of the birds have given me but also for those that dedicate their lives to trying to mend them and get them out in the wild again. Wildlife Haven is certainly one of those!

The trip had been to check on the little Wood Ducks. The one below is an adult female in her summer/fall plumage. Note her striking white eye patch and the yellow line around her eye. She does not, however, have the red iris of the male. She has white streaking on her breast. You can see the blue secondaries.

Indeed, it is very difficult to ID the Wood Ducks at this time of year because there are so many variations occurring.

We know this to be a male because of the red Iris. There is stunning secondaries. In this instance, they look iridescent green at this angle. This is a first year male in his winter plumage.

I was looking for the adult male. The last time I checked he was almost finished his moult and it would be so nice to see him in his magnificent plumage before they leave the pond for their winter homes. He is sleeping up on the bank of Duck Island on the left. You can get a glimpse of how gorgeous he is. Indeed, most of the wood ducks were having a nap. Perhaps they do not like all the people walking about, laughing, having fun.

From my garden to yours, I hope that like us you have family, friends, and critters who delight you and for whom you can say ‘thank you’ every day! Wildlife is wonderful.

Thanks for joining me today. Wish us good luck in getting that female Mallard out of the pond! Take care everyone. See you soon.

Tuesday in Bird World 5 October 2021

It is another glorious day. The sky is blue and it is going up to 28 or 29 degrees. Winds are a bit gusty. Still a noon walk around the pond seems to be something to aim for. Will it be too hot for the ducks and geese? Will they be sleeping on Duck Island and not on the water?

Before anything else happens during the day, I always check on a couple of nests, especially those in Australia to see if there are any surprises or if all is well.

The Port Lincoln Dad continues with his good fishing streak. Added to the already 3 or 4 feedings yesterday were two more: 16.41:26 and 18:33:08.

Everyone was fed yesterday. Each of the three is doing well and changing so much. What a magnificent Osprey nest to watch this year and despite some of the chatters fearing the worst (why I ask?), there is no evidence this year to indicate anything other than three successful fledges with their own sat paks.

It is only 6:33 in Port Lincoln. Not breakfast time yet.

There are four! A viewer was worried that something had happened to one of the little eyases. You have to be very creative in recognizing the individual falcons sometimes. They tend to collapse in a pile keeping each other warm. There is the baby looking right out at us. Each is thriving. Those parents are busy stocking the pantry! These kids can eat. This is not a nest that is going to have issues unless a real tragedy hits (like a parent dying). These are well seasoned parents that know precisely how to take care of their little ones. Not a worry at all. Just enjoy them!

How many of you watched the Peregrine Falcon nest at Orange with Xavier and Diamond last year? If you did, I know that Izzi, their only hatchling, stole your heart. Today, Izzi is having his one year birthday. Holly Parsons did a slideshow tribute to Izzi and posted it on YouTube. Here is the link:

Today we are waiting for the first hatch of Xavier and Diamond’s 2021 brood. It will happen anytime! Here is a link to the camera in Orange. You won’t want to miss any of that action.

The best guess on the first hatch is 7 October – tomorrow in Australia. This morning Xavier really wanted to incubate those eggs and Diamond let him! He is not giving us any hints if there is a pip. One happy Dad!

Do you know why Xavier is named Xavier? It comes from Saviour. In 2016, Diamond’s eggs were ready to hatch and her mate Bula went missing. Xavier showed up and helped Diamond raise the chicks that year. He provided all the food for them. Xavier and Diamond are a bonded pair raising their own chicks for the past five years. Xavier ‘saved’ (hence Saviour) the chicks lives that year. He is a very devoted Dad and a great mate.

Speaking of devoted mates, the Cornell Bird Lab has unveiled a Tupelo wood sculpture of Big Red and Ezra and their 2016 nest titled Hello Daddy. The artist, David Cohen, wanted to do a tribute to Ezra as he died the following year. The wood was decorated by burning and acrylics and depicts the first hatch with the other two eggs in various stages of hatching. Ezra wears the real metal band that he wore in life. The sculpture was unveiled today and will be on display for three years.

The trip to the duck pond to see the progression of the plumage changes in the male Mallards and the Wood Ducks was a bit of a bust. It is just too hot and almost everyone was on ‘Duck Island’ staying cool in the shade.

There was one lonely White-breasted Nuthatch foraging on one of the tree trunks as I arrived. They lack the black eye line and the rosy breast of the Red-breasted Nuthatch.

A few of the Canada Geese were out. Perhaps they were hoping that some of the picnickers might share some of their lunch with them. I don’t think it was working. Everyone seems very mindful of the signs saying “Do Not Feed the Wildlife”.

There were a couple taking a bath and flipping themselves over like people in a kayak. It was quite interesting to watch although it would have been much better as a video!

A few Canada Geese were flying in and landing.

What a great landing!

I could watch them all day!

Thank you for stopping in. I hope that you have had a really good day and that it continues that way. Stay safe. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Port Lincoln Osprey Project, The Falcon Cam at Charles Sturt University at Orange and Cilla Kinross, and 367 Collins Street Falcons by Mirvac. I would also like to thank Suzanne Arnold Horning for allowing me to post her images on my blog. She kindly attended the opening reception of Hello, Daddy.

Gorgeous fall day at Oak Hammock Marsh

If the weather is good, I really encourage you to go to your local nature centre to check out their programmes, look at the displays, sit and watch the birds, or walk on the trails.

As I walked through the Interpretative Centre, one of the staff was asking anyone if they wanted to watch a feeding. There were lots of pre-school children yelling ‘yes’ or ‘me, me’ and running ahead of their parents and grandparents. I thought they were going to feed the ducks. Silly me. It was salamanders. There are, however, many activities at the nature centres for all ages. In the fall, both of ours have birdseed sales with good discounts for members and much better seed. Then there are pumpkin carving adventures as well as astronomy evenings.

The grasses lining the ponds of Oak Hammock Marsh are quickly changing colour. Last week they were much more green and there was a lot more water. The staff are draining the water from the wetlands as it would happen naturally during a time of drought.

Closer to the Interpretative Centre is a series of board walks talking you out into the marsh.

Along the way there are pavilions. It is here that some of the walking tours stop to listen to information. They are also good places just to sit and catch your breath in the heat.

Whenever I look at these pavilions I am reminded of the gardens of the Chinese literati (learned individual, well educated, often writers and poets) who created gardens with ponds and pavilions like these for admiring nature, to find inspiration, or to sit and write or paint.

There were definitely not as many waterfowl at the marsh today as there was last week.

This is a good view of one of the pavilions and the adjacent ponds and marshlands.

It was really hot out on the trails around the marsh. Even the ducks were paddling so fast that they were often a blur.

These two Canada Geese were paddling quite slowly along the shore. They were not in a rush!

The dabbling ducks were looking for food.

Sometimes you had to look very closely to see them up against the reeds.

The reflection of the reeds with the blue sky was quite beautiful.

One of the things that I did today was purchase a book. It is The Crossley ID Guide to Waterfowl.

My interest has always been raptors. I can easily identify them although a Cooper will sometimes confuse me with a Sharp-shinned. I do not know my ducks and I am just now getting a handle on sparrows. We have two big rivers, two large lakes, Hudson’s Bay and a host of other smaller lakes and water features in a growing number of new housing estates. These are the birds in the parks near me or in my garden. It would help for me to recognize them. It would also help the e-Bird consultant for our area because then I would not be bugging him all the tim! Wish me luck.

These are Green-winged Teals preening themselves.

There is a look out point near the end of the trail. There you could see the ducks and geese arriving. It was 16:00.

Common on the Canadian Prairies are rose hips. The roses appear in the spring while the rose hips, the fruit of the rose, is in the fall. They generally grow after the petals have bloomed and have fallen off. They are rich in nutrients including vitamin C. People collect them and make tea or rose hip syrup or jelly. It is delicious.

The Dark-eyed Juncos have even appeared at Oak Hammock Marsh. You can hardly go anywhere without seeing several.

This is a Thirteen-lined Prairie Dog. They are diurnal and are most active during the day where they can be seen looking for food and going in and out of their tunnels.

There were a couple of these sparrows that were in my garden so I know this one’s ID. It is a juvenile Harris’s Sparrow. So cute. Eventually its entire crown will be black.

As we were leaving the Canada Geese were flying in to feed on the recently harvested farmer’s fields. Here they come in a beautiful ‘V’ formation.

While I did not see very many birds, it was simply a gorgeous day to be outside. The trails are so much nicer to walk on than the concrete of the city. There is such joy just closing your eyes in the sun and listening to the geese. It is the sound of fall. I am also very grateful to the individuals who have established this beautiful nature centre and have purchased the marsh and are being good stewards. There is absolutely no hunting permitted on any of the land – and the area is huge. Bravo! These ducks will not be fattened up, tagged, and then wind up in a count as to whether they were shot in state or out of state like some nature centres do. Rosalie Edge, the individual who purchased Hawk Mountain and lobbied against killing raptors, has certainly rubbed off on me!

All of the other nests were doing just fine when I checked on them. Meals had arrived at both 367 Collins Street and the Port Lincoln Barge. In fact, Dad brought in a really nice fish that still had its head. It was flapping and I am so glad that Mum out it out of its misery before it went flying over the edge or knocked one of the chicks off. Hatch watch will begin for the falcons at Charles Sturt University in a couple of days and the big fall e-Bird count is 9 October. More details to follow in a couple of days.

Take care all. I hope you had a wonderful day, too.

Yesterday at the Nature Centre

The people in our local weather office are saying that our temperatures are back to their seasonal norm today. It is 14 degrees C, not 31 C! The sky is grey, it feels damp but no rain is forecast.

It seems that yesterday was the perfect day for a walk at the Fort Whyte Nature Centre. There are Canada Geese and Cackling Geese all over the grounds – on the paths, in the water, even peering into the Interpretative Centre.

The trees are bursting with fall colours.

It was simply a glorious day. You could ‘smell’ autumn.

The nest boxes are all empty waiting for spring to arrive next year.

This little female Mallard was hiding along the shore in the trees away from all the ones that were dabbling on the other side of the pond.

There was certainly a lot of dabbling going on.

I love how this one uses the orange paddles to turn them around in the water. It was amazing to watch.

As late afternoon approached, there were six American White Pelicans that flew in along with a myriad of geese. By evening all of the ponds and fields will be covered.

Despite the fact that a beautiful fall day is a reminder of winter to come, it remains my favourite season. The colours of the leaves are just stunning.

Incoming.

The geese will continue to arrive until the third week in October when most will have migrated south for the winter. Today, Blackbirds are filling in the ponds of the City (or so I am told and from pictures I have seen). There are meeting or marshalling points where the birds wait for the others to arrive before migrating in mass.

With the change in weather, there will be more birds moving through our City on the way to warmer climates. Migration is a huge challenge – finding safe places to stop, water, a good food source – it is not easy for the birds to take on these thousands and thousands of kilometres. We hope that each arrives safely at their destination.

Thank you for joining me. Have a wonderful Friday.

Late Friday in Bird World

It is 10:16 in Australia as I begin this short newsletter.

The osplets on the Port Lincoln barge had a small fish between them around 06:15. They have had nothing since and Big Bob is getting a bit restless. Sadly, he has been pecking Little Bob’s neck and Little Bob is going to have to learn to use his backside to protect himself when this happens. So far the beaking has not been too bad but, as all of you know – this Osprey nest makes me nervous. I will not be able to relax until Little Bob is a little older. It seems that Big Bob is trying to establish nest domination. Tiger Mozone wondered on the chat about DNA causing excessive aggressiveness in the chicks. Certainly this nest has a history of that type of behaviour. I also wonder about toxins in the water that enter the fish and stay in the tissue of the Ospreys.

Mom was hopeful around 09:45 and the chicks were in line to eat. Their crops have dropped from the small fish three and a half hours earlier.

The chicks are being fed more fish and for a longer period. What was six minutes a week ago has stretched into 45 minutes at the table. And these chicks will be fine today if a big fish does not come on the nest for a few more hours. The issue is Big Bob who seems to want to press his authority by fighting with the other two. Middle Bob is the clever one (so far) and seems to be able to stay out of the way but Little Bob still needs to learn how to protect itself.

The two older chicks are moving straight into the rapid growth period where they need lots of fish. Little Bob is following as quickly as he can. You can see that he is moving into the reptile phase himself. The dark feathers are coming in and he is losing the down on his head. Big Bob is awfully dark and a bit scary looking! He is the one holding his head the highest and looking towards you.

It is nearing noon, nest time. Dad has come to the nest without a fish. Is there a predator in the area? I actually thought that this nest was relatively free from predators unlike those in Europe and the US that have to deal with Goshawks, Great Horned Owls, etc. Or has Dad arrived to get the meal order from mom?

I couldn’t help myself. I had to check. Dad must have been taking the fish order at 11:25 because he delivered a fish to the nest around 12:25. Thank goodness. Big Bob behaved himself and everyone is getting to eat.

Look at who has his little mouth open wide!

Little Bob ate first. You can see from the crops. Middle and Big will eat next and by the time they finish, Little Bob will be hungry again. I hope that fish is big enough!

The big news over in New Zealand is that Tiaki has fledged on 25 September. She was 244 days old. Both her and Plateau Chick left the headland but, it has not been completely determined when that was. By the sat-pak it seems that Tiaki might have fledged at night but sometimes that sat-pak GPS requires adjustment. We all wish her a wonderful safe life, full of fish, and a return to us in five years time.

You can follow her satellite GPS. I will put the link below the fledging video.

Cornell Bird Lab caught the moment:

Here is the link so that you can check on Tiaki. Her satellite tracker should continue working for a year until her first moult. You can follow her dad, LGK also. His tracker should be good til he moults – another couple of months. There are only six chicks remaining to fledge.

https://my.wildlifecomputers.com/data/map/?id=6008d9ba31af59139976bcfe

The migration continues in Manitoba with everyone is excited. There are dawn breakfasts and evening dinners celebrating the arrival and departure of the Canada Geese – and, of course, the swans and all the other ducks and birds. Today marked the return of the Dark Eyed Junco to Winnipeg. Oh, people are so happy to see these adorable little birds. There are several sub-species of Junco and the one that visits Manitoba in the summer to breed is called the Slate-coloured Junco.

The Juncos love my red outdoor carpet. Tomorrow or the next day there will be 50 or more hopping about on it and jumping in and out of the dill. They love it if we ‘intentionally’ spill some seeds on the carpet. They are better than a vacuum clearing them up if we do. They do not feed at the feeders but are also seen on the ground for invertebrates. Isn’t this a real cutie? It was definitely not shy. The image was shot through a triple pane of glass so as not to disturb the bird. It seemed to not notice me.

Today, Mr Blue Jay had two other Blue Jay male visitors that wanted to help him eat his cob of dried corn.

By the time dusk arrives, the Jays and the squirrels – both red and grey – had made a real mess of the seeds. I think one of the squirrels wanted some of that corn but the Blue Jays were not having it. They would eat 3 or 4 kernels and then take some away in their beak. It was fascinating watching them through the windows.

Little Red decided it was easier to get up in the lilac bushes and balance himself on the bird feeder and eat his dinner there. Contending with three male Blue Jays was not something he wanted to do. So he kept quiet and ate and ate. He also doesn’t get on with the Grey Squirrels. He has picked a good place to eat in peace and quiet.

Awwww. Look at those tiny little nails.

It was a good day. All of the garden wildlife save for the rabbit were accounted for. There were also several new species of sparrow in the lilac bushes eating seeds. There were Chipping sparrows as well as Clay Coloured Sparrows today.

Hatch watch is coming soon for the 367 Collins Street Peregrine Falcons. WBSE 27 and 28 are doing well. 28 actually managed to get a prey delivery today. Here is a short video showing 28 mantling the prey and then wanting to share it with his big sib. They have their beautiful juvenile plumage and are so adorable.

I also checked in on the Bald Eagles who are working on their nests. Will put in a report some time this weekend. I know that many of you are anxious for Samson and Gabby, Harriet and M15, as well as Jackie and Shadow to get those nests built and those eggs laid! And while the last of the Albatross are fledgling, it will not be that long til the other adults return to Taiaroa Head to make their nests and lay their eggs for the 2022 season. Sometimes time feels like it melts in front of our eyes.

Thank you for joining me. I have promised myself that I am not going to worry about the Port Lincoln Ospreys tonight. The crazy thing is that I wish the winds would pick up. Dad seems to be able to fish better when that is the case. Yes, I know. That is a crazy idea. Take care all of you. Stay safe. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Port Lincoln Osprey Project, Cornell Bird Lab and NZ DOC, and Wildlife Computers.

A Visit to Oak Hammock Marsh

My Hibiscus and the Vermillionaires for the hummingbirds continue to think it is summer. And why wouldn’t they with blue skies, sun, and 24 degrees C. The only things that seem to be on track for autumn are the trees and Virginia Creepers that are changing colour daily.

Today was a bit of an outing. Located about 20 km north of Winnipeg, the Oak Hammock Marsh is home to an Interpretative Centre, third floor viewing area, a marsh boardwalk and several trails through the marshes. Oak Hammock Marsh is a joint project between the Province of Manitoba and Ducks Unlimited Canada. The marsh covers a 3600 hectare restored wetland area in the Interlake (between Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba) area of our province. The marsh supports 300 species of birds as well as a myriad of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and insects. My interest is, of course, in the birds.

There are daily tours of the grounds, special education programmes for schools, early bird breakfast and migration fests, and a Goose Flight dinner which is completely sold out.

It was a wonderful day – short sleeve weather with plenty of birds and lots of places to stop and catch your breath along the trails.

Tip: If you were going to visit Oak Hammock Marsh and you just want to walk the trails and not go inside the building, you do not pay the entrance fee.

One of the things that I like about Oak Hammock is that at each trail there is information on the wildlife that you ‘might’ see there. Of course, there are no promises that the Yellow-headed or Red Winged Blackbirds will be there when you are but, in general, these are areas where certain birds congregate if at the marsh.

These are a great help to me – I am a raptor person who is just beginning to learn about waterfowl and shorebirds! I would have loved having Ferris Akel with me telling me which was the Greater Yellow Legs and which was the Spotted Sandpiper. There are a stack of books open surrounding me right now and the images are disappointing. That said, let’s give it a try and see if some of these bird identifications work – and if you spot an error, tell me! Do not be shy about it.

The images are not great. This beautiful raptor soared for so long in the warm thermals coming off the prairie landscape. She was obviously hunting. She would come down and bank and then go so high she was like a speck of dirt. You wanted to rub the lens of your camera to see if she was real. This is an adult female Northern Harrier. Notice how slim the body is with the long tapered wings and tail.

In the image below she is gliding – holding her wing tips higher than the body. Northern Harriers is one of the easiest members of the hawk family to identify because they glide so close to the ground. They have excellent vision but are known to also hunt by sound

She has soared above the marsh and glided down for a closer look for her prey. In the image below she was banking but also pulling up. You can see that distinct white upper covert.

It was simply mesmerizing watching her hunt and then go back to soaring in the thermals of a beautiful fall day.

Did you know that Northern Harriers were once called Marsh Hawks? In Europe they are often called Hen Hawks. This marsh is a perfect place for our Northern Harrier female to have her nest. She will build it on the ground usually in long grasses or cattails. These hawks line their nest with cattails – and all over the marsh were cattails and other soft prairie grass.

It was quite difficult to actually hear any of the other bird voices (or calls). The Canada Geese were flying overhead, landing on the ponds, and in the fields surround the marsh.

This adult male Yellow Headed Blackbird paid no attention to me. He was foraging for insects, seeds, beetles, on the ground. They apparently also eat dragonflies and there were a lot of those on my walk today. Here he is with his distinctive yellow head and chest with white patches on his black wings. He has a black bill.

There is an understanding that if Yellow-headed Blackbirds are in the same area as Red-winged Blackbirds then the Yellow-heads will be dominant. I do not know if that is the case at Oak Hammock Marsh because the numbers of Red-winged Blackbirds seem to really outnumber the Yellows.

It’s a male Red-winged Blackbird, below. I think it is a juvenile male because the red patch above the yellow is faint. They are covered by thousands of the most beautiful ebony feathers. Their black eye and beak disappear in all the dark plumage.

The Red-winged Blackbirds also have their nests on the ground which they line with dried cattail leaves, reeds, and grasses. The marsh is a perfect place for them to nest, too, with all those cattails!

This Greater Yellowlegs was quite busy foraging in the mud. Because of its streaked neck, this should be a juvenile. The Greater Yellowlegs is larger than the Lesser and has a longer bill with longer legs and noticeable knees. These birds also nest on the ground near water making Oak Hammock Marsh a perfect nesting area.

It looked so small walking along the soft mud of the marsh.

Two female Blue-winged Teals. We have Blue-winged teals throughout our province but they prefer, like so many of these birds, the marshes. Sadly, many marshes have been drained for farming over the past 60 years and then turned into housing estates leaving the Teals to have to adapt to living in ditches and dugout ponds. Their dark beaks are quite wide and flat. The females are a mottled brown.

Aren’t they gorgeous?

A pair of American coots diving and dabbling like ducks in the waters of the marsh today. American Coots can forage for food on land as well. Some people call them ‘Mud Hens.’ They eat insects, worms, tadpoles and fish as well as land and water plants. Their white bill with the black plumage helps to identify them.

As I was leaving, more and more Canada Geese were arriving in their typical ‘V’ formation. The fields were filling up and so were the ponds. It was 15:00. Must go back out closer to dusk! There is something energizing about seeing all of those geese flying in – and the only sound being heard was not the noise of the city but the honk of the goose. Just lovely.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I know that most of my readers live in places around the world far away from Manitoba. Please do check out your local nature centres. There are wonderful surprises awaiting you. Take care everyone. See you soon.

Wednesday in Bird World

Lady Hawk has posted some close ups of the Royal Albatross cam chick, Tiaki, doing some wing exercises. Tiaki is all grown up, a beautiful juvenile, the daughter of LGL and LGK. She will fledge soon beginning her five or six year journey at sea – never touching land – til she returns to the headland to begin finding a mate. Perhaps one day Tiaki’s chick will be the Royal cam chick. I do hope so. It will mean that the seas are safer places for our beautiful squid eating birds.

“Masked Bobwhite (female ) (subspecies of Northern Bobwhite) | BANWR | AZ | 2016-04-15at07-43-413” by Bettina Arrigoni is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Audubon Society has posted some really good news. The Masked Bobwhites are once again seen in southern Arizona. They were believed to be on extinct or on the edge of extinction because of cattle grazing in the Arizona deserts. Today they are listed as ‘critically endangered’.

They are a small round quail. When I was a child, we would travel to visit relatives in Arizona every summer. Oh, was it hot! But there were always Bobwhites. It is nice to hear that they are now returning.

This photo was taken on the 10th of September. I wrote about it at the time because in migration news, this is great. The son of Aeron Z2 and Blue 014 at the Pont Cresor nest in the Glaslyn Valley – and the grandson of Monty and Glesni – had reached Brittany. That was 12 days ago. He would now be further on his migration, perhaps stopping in Spain. The photo of Blue 494 was taken by Colette Leclerq.

Photo by Colette Leclerq, Brittany France

Speaking of migration and waiting and wanting news of Blue 464, it is more than time to check on the Black Storks from Latvia and Estonia.

First up, Karl II, his daughter Pikne, and his son Udu. They are from the Black Stork nest in the Karula Forest in Estonia. This map is taken from the Karl II migration pages of the Forum.

Udu is now in Hungary near the fishponds at Banhalma. Karl II remains around Kherson Oblata in the Ukraine. Pikne has doubled back and remains in Moldova. What I think is interesting about this map is that Udu has turned and is heading towards the Asia Minor route. There was a question as to whether he might go the western route to Africa but it seems he will be flying over Greece.

This is the data from BirdMap. You can access the BirdMap here:

http://birdmap.5dvision.ee/EN

I was wanting to see about the Black stork Julge. He is Jan and Janika’s only surviving chick this year. He is now in france. You can see him still heading over the westerly routing.

The birds that are in the centre of Africa are two Ospreys!

So far everything looks in order and everyone is still safe.

I cannot bring you a late afternoon update on the Port Lincoln Ospreys. The camera was frozen for most of the day and has just returned to normal. Mom has the kids covered tight. It is only 8 degrees at 16:00 with winds blowing over the water at 11 kph.

I can show you a bit of what a beautiful day it was on the Canadian prairies. I really need to practice with my camera and my tripod. These are some images today taken at a distance of about 68 metres. I found the tripod tricky to use – I need a counterbalance for it – so these are all hand held. The set up was heavy. But there were a few passable images.

A female Mallard. This species is very common in Manitoba. They have, on occasion, fooled me so I have had to go to our local eBird expert. This is a real beauty.

The Canada Geese would like the entire pond to themselves. They swim after and honk as they pursue the ducks.

There is your dabbling duck. She knows that goose is there but is trying to ignore it.

The park was just beautiful. It was 25 degrees today. One of the fountains was not working and that end of the pond had men working. Still the geese on the other side were a bit curious.

All of the Wood Ducks were either up on the islands or down by the fountain that was working. This is a female and she is such a cutie. I sat and watched her swim in and out of the water droplets for quite awhile.

Thank you so much for joining me today. Tomorrow is a day away chasing shore birds. I hope to have a posting tomorrow evening (Thursday). Take care everyone. Stay safe. Stay Positive!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams or FB pages where I took my screen shots: Port Lincoln Osprey Project, Friends of Ospreys, and to the Eagle Club of Estonia, BirdMap, and the Latvian Fund for Nature.

Late Saturday in Bird World

I want to thank the person who wrote and thanked me for keeping everyone abreast of what is happening with the Port Lincoln Osplets. It is truly my pleasure. The situation of siblicide last year with Tapps really touched our or tore out our hearts. People can say that nature is not like Disneyland – and it surely isn’t – but, it is still hard. How many times did we want to scoop up little Tapps and feed him? I almost quit watching Ospreys entirely because of Tapps. I do understand – completely.

I began to wonder about these third hatches. The Osprey nests had such a hard time last year that there were few with three hatches that survived. The first was Tiny Tot at Achieva. Aka Tumbles. What an amazing bird. I will not bore you with all of the intricate details but, in the first two six weeks of her life, Tiny Tot had 12 days – 12 whole days – without food. At least twice, she went for 72 hours. That bird wanted to live. She was clever! And, yes, she got angry and lashed out at the older ones twice. I believe it was the last instance when Diane, the female, took notice. She began bringing in food to the nest. Those big catfish saved Tiny Tot’s life. And then Tiny Little at Foulshaw Moss. Neither of the Tinys should have survived but they did and were stronger birds for it. My interest in third hatches was cemented with the two Tinys. I want to see if their survival rate is higher than the big siblings. The problem is that so few of them are ringed or have satellite trackers. Someone in France just photographed Blue 494 from the Dyfi Nest. Maybe they will see Blue 463, Tiny Little, too. Oh, I hope so.

What I can tell you is that the PLO are doing fine. Little Bob has a good appetite. He can’t eat as many bites as Big Bob but at the most recent feeding, Little Bob ate enough to go into food coma! Mom seems particularly focused on making sure that each gets bites. She is doing really well this year and so is Dad with bringing in the fish. It is 11 degrees C in Port Lincoln and the winds are still blowing strong at 24 kmh. That is 14.91 miles an hour. It might not sound like a lot but it can certainly disrupt fishing.

Here is a close up. Little Bob is the one that is being fed. You can see that he already has the makings of a very good crop.

This is Little Bob getting some nice bites. The one that looks asleep is actually Big Bob. She has eaten and is taking a ‘breather’. Meanwhile Little and Middle Bob are enjoying the morning breakfast.

There is Big Bob back up at the table! Doesn’t take long. She can eat bigger pieces and more of them now. But there is no problem with Little or Middle Bobs eating. Everyone is doing well.

Every once in awhile their eyes lock on one another and my body goes rigid but, so far, nothing. Mom goes around making sure everyone has bites. It is that kind of security that keeps things tranquil.*

These are really well behaved youngsters. Food is plentiful and they line up with mouths open letting out little peeps. Middle Bob is getting some bites now while Little and Big wait their turns.

As I said, Little Bob has a very good appetite and he won’t leave the table until he falls over in food coma or mom calls it quits. Remember, she does not want them to catch cold. Right now the feedings are lasting about nine minutes.

Little Bob is full and in a food coma. The crops are filling on the older two. Oh, what a delight this nest is to watch this year. Of course, it can all change. Just continue to send the warmest of wishes to this family. We want three survivors! Three.

Closer to home. I was heading out to check on the Wood Ducks at the park. The last time I was there the male Wood Ducks – save for one – were in the equinox. They were moulting and getting their fall plumage. They were certainly not their brilliant beautiful selves.

As soon as I was out the door I could hear the familiar pecking of the male Downy Woodpecker in the garden. He comes several times a day. Rumour has it that he lives inside the 123 year-old Maple tree in front of my house.

In the winter I rub peanut butter suet on the bark and I often see him eating away. This summer he brought his baby to find the suet. The strange thing is – we have never seen the female. It is so odd.

Little Woodpecker is such a sweetie. One day when Sharpie, the Sharp-shinned Hawk, was in the garden, the little woodpecker was on the suet like he is today. For 45 minutes, he held on tight, not moving, just blinking his eyes rapidly. He was so afraid he was going to be Sharpie’s lunch. I felt so sorry for him. Sharpie was sitting on a branch under him pretending to be. feeder! Needless to say Sharpie wasn’t successful that day.

It is a beautiful fall day and the park was full of Canada geese and people having picnics and playing cricket.

Over in the pond, the male Wood Ducks really stand out. They have finished their moult. Just look at the range of colour in those feathers. Even the golden beige ones are gorgeous.

Here is a different one. The shape of the head is slightly different on this one.

The female Wood Ducks have really grown, too. My goodness. What a change in a a week. They were so tiny when I left but they seem to be growing by leaps and bounds.

There were definitely more females than males.

The Mallards were particularly annoying today. We noticed that the female Wood Ducks tended to stay close to one another.

Isn’t she beautiful?

The male Mallards are in the middle of moulting. Soon they will have those beautiful emerald green heads that are so characteristic. For now, they look a little bit like peeling duck decoys instead of living breathing water fowl.

There were lots of female Mallards in the pond today.

Two Canada Geese came flying in creating a bit of a ruckus.

Then they slithered along the surface of the pond. They looked rather strange and everyone stopped to try and figure out what they were doing.

We presumed that they were sipping water.

Speaking of water. The pond is pretty clean this year. There are two fountains and everyone is abiding by the signs and not feeding the ducks. If they do it is wild bird seed. What a huge difference from the algae infested muck of last year.

It is early morning in Australia. There will be more meals for the youngsters. All of the birds in our park are safe and sound tonight. We have had no frost. In decades past there was always a freeze in August. I wonder if this might impact migration dates?

Thank you so much for joining me. Have a lovely rest of the weekend. Tomorrow I am going to try and break my unlucky streak and catch that juvenile Green Heron that is hanging about our City. Take care all. Stay safe.

Thank you to the Port Lincoln Osprey Project for their streaming cam where I took my screen shots.