Sunday, May 25, 2014

What's Happening at the Beaver Pond

"Tippy" comes out to greet a visitor at her pond
Lately the beavers have been quite active at their main pond. They may or may not have new kits this season. I have an inkling that they do judging by the amount of food being brought back to the lodge. Kits don't typically come out of the lodge until they are at least a month old and so it's not unusual that we haven't seen them yet. The adults have started to come out in the afternoon again; this is something that they haven't done in several months. For the most part they've been working to maintain the ponds and canals and are generally keeping the habitat in order. The other wetland dependent species have been taking full advantage of the beavers' handiwork. Ducks and Geese have already nested and some young have recently hatched.
Greta, our log-time resident female Canada Goose, rearranges sticks around her nest
Greta notices one egg has rolled off and into the pond - She was able to retrieve it
Greta makes a splashy takeoff from the nest 
Greta and her mate Felix watch over their only gosling to hatch
The new gosling tries some greens for the first time
The other goose pair had 4 goslings
The very first Mallard ducklings hatched the same day as the goslings
The Wood duck is still sitting in her box - visited often by a male
When the Wood Duck female comes out of the box to feed, the male follows after her
A female Hooded Merganser showed interest in the Wood Duck's box. She may have even laid some eggs in there - thus allowing the Wood Duck to incubate them for her!
Recently there has been a mink hunting around the pond area
The mink is mostly searching the dam for small rodents, but they will take anything small enough to handle
Behind the beaver pond duck blind a Southern Red-backed Vole hides in a fold of old roofing material
Julia, the  beaver colony's Matriarch, patrols the pond - the Mink is no threat to beavers
One of the 2-year old beavers works on the main dam
Tippy takes apples from my hand just like she did when she was a small kit

A Green Heron walks across the dam
A male Mallard flies in and prepares to land at the main pond
In the dead trees above the pond several bird species are nesting - The Great Crested Flycatcher is our only flycatcher species that will nest in tress cavities 
A Hairy Woodpecker is still feeding nestlings in a dead tree over the pond

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Migrant Songbirds at Work in the Woods and a Few Favorite Spring Wildflowers

Male Scarlet Tanager in the old woods
Migrant songbirds are still plentiful in our old woods. For more than a week now, I have been finding a great assortment of warblers, vireos, thrushes and other neotropical types. Some like the Scarlet Tanager will stay to breed while most others will continue north to the boreal forests of the Adirondacks and Canada. One of the reasons the migrants are lingering is the all-you-can-eat feast being provided by foliage-eating caterpillars. A quick examination of some freshly unfurled maple and beech leaves revealed many small green caterpillars - all methodically munching away. I'm afraid that most are larvae of the Winter Moth - an introduced species that is known to cause great damage to deciduous trees.  The songbirds are doing what they can for now to control them and hopefully, they be on the job for a while longer.
The Blue-headed Vireo looks like it's wearing a pair of white-rimmed spectacles 
A male Northern Parula Warbler inspects Beech leaf buds for caterpillars
Prairie Warblers are fairly unusual visitors in our neck of the woods
A juvenile Black & White Warbler looks for insects lurking on the bark of trees
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks have also been feasting on the emerging caterpillars
A female Wood Thrush was busy building a nest on a Hemlock bough

Female and male Bay-breasted Warblers look for caterpillars high up in the tree canopy
A Wood Thrush hunts for insects on the ground
Eastern Chipmunks are very common in the woods this spring - a result of last fall's bumper crop of seeds and nuts
Foam Flower came into full bloom this week
Jack-in-the-Pulpits are also found in the old woods
Sweet White Violets covered the ground in some woodland clearings

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Songbird Fallout

 Black-throated Green Warbler was among 18 species of warblers at the preserve
What a difference a day makes. The woods were pretty quiet on this past Thursday. Some of the expected migrants from the south had been showing up, but only in a slow trickle. However, on Friday that changed radically and suddenly the woods were teeming with birds and resounding with their music. Warblers, thrushes, vireos, flycatchers - most of the birds fresh from the tropics, where diving through the tree tops and gleaning insects off newly emerging leaves.
A male Rose-breasted Grosbeak about to descend on a bird feeder
Wood Thrushes do most of their insect hunting on the forest floor
The Blue-winged Warbler is among those that will remain here to nest
The male Indigo Bunting visits a bird feeder
A Chestnut-sided Warbler issued harsh call notes from the tree tops
Brown Thrashers have been singing their hearts out at the forest edges
This Black-throated Blue Warbler took a sip from a Sapsucker's sap hole
I didn't get a good picture of it, but a male Black-throated Blue Warbler flew onto the trunk of a Hemlock Tree where a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker had drilled about 100 holes. The warbler put its beak right in one of the holes and took a drink, or grabbed an insect - it was hard to tell which. In the past I've seen hummingbirds and butterflies avail themselves of sapsucker holes, but not warblers.
About a half-dozen Scarlet Tanagers were singing from the tree tops
Yellow-rumped Warblers were the most commonly seen warbler species
A male Bay-breasted Warbler is seen and heard giving its short, high pitched song
Swainson's Thrush was among the freshly returned contingent of thrushes
Also in the woods, the White-breasted Nuthatches were seen house shopping. This was the cavity they selected
This tree cavity was already occupied by a family of Gray Squirrels
Thursday was the first day this season that the Red Eft was found in the forest
A pair of Eastern Kingbirds were seen picking off bees as they visited the pussy willow blossoms