Archivos de Diario para marzo 2022

miércoles, 02 de marzo de 2022

Winter 2021-2022: Part 2 - Transition

As I type, it is 83 ° here in St. Louis on a sunny blue sky afternoon on the second day of March. The Spring Equinox is fast approaching on March 20, as is spring migration, but Winter is reluctantly letting go the reins to Spring despite the heat today. Stepping outside my house this morning, a melting mound of snow lingered, but most had melted away over the past week.

I decided to take a walk to take the pulse of things on this first day of what I call one of the wild's grand transitions, when the lives of so many are in great flux, like birds beginning to leave our area as winter is ending, some birds beginning to arrive, as spring is beginning and frogs announce it. For naturalists, transitions hold so much excitement. This particular transition between winter and spring might hold the most excitement for many, as winter can often cause us to sink into funks due to the short days and seeming dirth of life, as life sleeps, hidden from our view. There are peaks in the cyclical lives of the wild that are exquisite to experience, periods when it seems the most moth and insect species abound as in summer in St. Louis or the most bird species are migrating through in May, but those liminal, in between spaces, the transitions between the seasons, like now, when a grand buildup is just beginning again as the seasons overlap, when each day a new plant peaks out, a new bird species arrives, a moth flies from the decaying leaves, and then slowly more wild things appear on the move, snakes slither forth and turtles bask and all manner of life unfolds again, those days are terribly exciting, each one holding a small surprise, life returning, like a long term marriage that is forever made fresh, a love affair that waned and is now waxing, one that repeats every year, everything changing yet remaining the same.

With that in mind, I walked to the park that is so dear to me, the one I grew up with and have lived near almost all my life - Carondelet Park. Deliberately buying a home only a few blocks away was the best decision my partner Andy and I ever made.

First thing, as I walk a few city blocks to the park, I encounter hammering and roofers working on a home on the way. People are out in force, walking dogs, exercising, gardening. Kids are hollering in the playground of the nearby school. But it is the sound of the Carolina Chickadees and Tufted Titmice that pulls at me, tugs me eagerly toward the park. Entering the park, I encounter the gatekeeper, the large sprawling elm, still in her winter dress, not a hint of spring on her. She welcomes everyone at the northwest entrance. I smile in greeting and gratefulness. Hearing a single 'psst', I look around for a Brown Creeper on the arm of the Elm, find him and greet him with a 'Hello there." Two Golden-crowned Kinglets, not wanting to be left out, greet me with three adamant, "See, See, See" calls and I respond, "Yes, I see, see, see you!" as I locate them in another Elm. A Sweetgum tree nearby has American Goldfinch dripping from balls yet to fall, balls with yummy seeds the Goldfinch love. The Goldfinch, too, give a sweet baby cry of a greeting.

I've entered my hallowed grounds. Walking the path I usually take once I pay my respects to the Elm, I walk counterclockwise around the inner perimeter. I check for the fearsome foursome in the little lake called Horseshoe that appears at the top of the hill beyond the Elm. The fearsome foursome, made up of two loud Swan Geese, a large white domestic goose folks call Frankie due to his blue eyes (Frankie Sinatra) and a rogue Ross's Goose the three adopted over a year ago, are walking the edge. The lake is lined with numerous trees, but one in particular is luring me along, the one the Great Horned Owls are nesting in again. Turning my attention that way, I suddenly notice a large bird fly to the cavity. Whew!
It's only Mama Great Horned. She must have been enjoying a respite from the rascally white fluff ball youngster who popped his head out yesterday. I watch her perched on the edge of the cavity, looking around, checking whether anyone has noticed her before she carefully walks into the cavity and drapes herself over the youngster. I've been watching her and her mate raise young for almost tens years. Every year is different - some years they've raised one owl, others two, and sometimes none. As far as we can tell, there is definitely one this year, but there could easily be two or three. I try not to watch her too long, as she's very sensitive to attention - and I watch from a great distance, not wanting to reveal her location or bother her too much.

Walking past her, I surreptitiously wave at her as she glares down at me, but my path goes right by her. I try to act like I'm not looking, out of respect, but it's difficult. She's incredibly stunning. Once past her, I immediately check out the bridge over the lake to see if the first Phoebes have arrived, but I notice none, just more Mallards than usual - and courting. I'm not fond of what comes after the courting. The ganging up of many Mallards on one female is a disturbing site as they almost drown her, yank at her, vye for her. I don't linger as the sound of gargling Rusty Blackbirds rescues me from that potential sight. Up ahead, near the playground, a large flock of them are on the ground where a spot of water and decaying leaves mingle. Joy is mine as I watch them bathe and flip and toss over leaves, looking for yummies to eat.

My entire route through the park is sprinkled with American Robins. The big numbers have not arrived yet, but they will be here soon. The ones that have arrived early are already dueling, courting, and building nests. At one point, I stop to watch the birds around the edge of an ice patch melting deep inside one of the many sinkholes of the park. Dark-eyed Juncos are most numerous, but a Fox Sparrow is hop scratching at the ground for beetles! An early delight! Around the time of the Spring Equinox, explosive numbers of Fox Sparrows, on their way to the tundra, will stop over for a two- to three-day stint of rest and replenishment in our backyards and parks. It is a singular phenomenon I wait for every year and feel lucky to catch, as there will literally be hundreds of them everywhere. White-throated Sparrows accompany the single Fox Sparrow. Their numbers will increase, too, as Spring takes hold. Two Blue Jays holler and scatter the birds when they notice me snooping. They fly off a short distance, all show, as they are back right away, as are the Juncos and sparrows.

Looking skyward, I spy a single Turkey Vulture, an early harbinger of change, flying off in the distance. When the Turkey Vultures return to the skies of the city, I thrill, as I know Winter is truly loosening its grip. The pulse of the park is beginning to rise, and the return of the birds to the city is happening. There is sadness, too, as I know the overwintering Short-eared Owls and Rough-legged Hawks on the outskirts of the city will abandon us for breeding grounds farther North, as other overwintering birds like the ducks, geese, and swans will, too. My gratitude to the overwintering birds has always been immense, as their presence and beauty and strength has held me steady through the days of less light, through the days leading up to this day of transition.

I know that soon, in a few days, the first Pine Warblers will trickle into the area, if they are not already here, and begin the glorious ascension from the neotropics that crescendos in May, when the number of songbirds migrating will reach into the billions. Many of these birds will stay the summer and breed on the outskirts of the city. Some species will even breed in the city, but far fewer. Those that breed in the city are very special to me, the Warbling Vireos, the Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, the Great Crested Flycatchers, the Eastern Wood-Pewees, to name a few, but so are resident species and their young. Fledgling Blue Jays are the bomb! I know that soon, maybe this weekend, I will find an open field and watch the outrageous three hundred-foot spiraling dives of American Woodcocks at dusk. I know that near the end of March, a splash of egrets and herons will return to communal nesting spots in the city known as rookeries – Great Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets and Black-Crowned Night-Herons - and on their way there, some will visit Carondelet. I know that hundreds of American White Pelicans will soon be swirling past overhead and as thousands of ducks migrate to their northerly breeding grounds, some will visit the little lakes of this park, too. I know the Tree Swallows and Barn Swallows will return. I only know all this due to healing of the rupture from the wild that occurred for me as a child, a rupture so deep and painful it took years for me to find my way back, but find my way I did.

And even though I know all this, I am in no hurry anymore. I used to be. My sense of urgency in the beginning of discovering all this led me to attempt to gobble it all up, every season, as if it would never happen again, as if I could not trust this magic, as if it would disappear, as if I could never get enough. It was as if someone let me loose at a feast, after famine. I gorged, frantically, making myself sick. When I settled down, finally, after the first few years, I found a deeper sense of intimacy with the wild, a more peaceful way of being present, of trusting. And even though it may disappear and I will die soon, as we all will of something, I know I want to linger in the arms of the unfolding of it all, taking my time to really drink it in, each little detail, each small emerging presence. I never take this gift for granted. So, every year, every season, every transition, almost every day, I am out there, with the wild that has found a way to adapt, as I have, to the chaos humans have wrought, checking on them, rejoicing in them. We are all in this together. May it continue, come what may.

Publicado el miércoles, 02 de marzo de 2022 a las 09:09 PM por wildreturn wildreturn | 5 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

jueves, 03 de marzo de 2022

First Night of Mothing 2022 - A few first of the seasons, a new form of Lacewing, a new moth and fly species, and hundreds of Snow Geese

Since the temperature got to 83° yesterday during the day here in St. Louis, I decided to try a first night of mothing. I think I've often missed early spring moths in our St. Louis area due to not mothing early enough. Though sparse attendance was the general theme of the night, there were still a number of sweet moments like seeing my first male Wedgling Moth of the season. Five Hypena scabras were present. A new form of Chrysoperla rufilabris (Red-lipped Green Lacewing) appeared -- and confounded and enchanted me. At first I thought they were a different species of Lacewing that I'd never encountered, until I discovered today that their red and yellow gorgeousness was their overwinter form. Kudos for mothing earlier this year, eh?

Leafhoppers were a joy to see and photograph - and as usual, I did not know the species name. I caught my first assassin bug of the year eating off the sheet, despite the dearth of options. Squealing with delight, I found a first of the season Twenty-spotted Lady Beetle the size of the tip of a pencil. There were a few challenging moth species, one that I thought might be Eucosmini. With the help of colleagues here on iNaturalist, one was determined to be a possible variation of Epinotia zandana, a new species for me. Besides my first of the season weevil, there were species of flies that joined the sheet looked somewhat familiar, but I felt unsure. One that I assumed was a bathroom moth fly turned out to be a new species for me, a Trickling Filter Fly (Psychoda alternata). A large fresh first of the season Brown-shaded Gray Moth definitely stood out on the mostly empty sheet.

As the temperatures dropped, I quit mothing early, but not before I heard the sound of Snow Geese migrating overhead. I continued to hear them for over an hour and upon going in for the night, they sounded closer, so I looked skyward and could see their white V formations against the night sky. Wow.

Publicado el jueves, 03 de marzo de 2022 a las 07:37 PM por wildreturn wildreturn | 29 observaciones | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

sábado, 05 de marzo de 2022

Two Great Horned Owl babes burgeoning with curiosity, Crocuses blooming and a Merlin scattering sparrows

St. Louis. On this 60° sunny afternoon, two Great Horned Owl babes made more of an appearance, burgeoning with curiosity about their world, jumping up and down in the cavity to see over the ledge. I heard from Heather, a woman who has taken a shine to these Owls, that someone had been flying a drone over the area about a week ago on a cold day and Mama Owl had flown off terrified and didn't come back for two hours! Walking the rest of the park, a pair of Barred Owls were being hounded by a Cooper's Hawk (the Cooper's Hawk screamed up a storm until one finally flew with the hawk in hot pursuit), Cardinals were courting, Juncos were singing, a Fox Sparrow was scratching away again today near the same water spit but had been joined by a Song Sparrow. Today they were chased away by a high speed Merlin. It took them awhile to return. Way more blackbirds had arrived - big numbers of Grackles and Rusties. Starlings were staking claim to cavities for nesting. Titmice were calling from everywhere. Chickadees were busy checking out nesting cavities. Jays were skulking around and laying claim to territory. A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker got a bit frisky, doing back flips in the trees then zipping off. Brown Creepers had the friskies, too, three chasing each other around one particular tree over and over. Golden-crowned Kinglets were present in small numbers. The fearsome foursome was unfortunately being fed by some well meaning old women who do this on a regular basis, but whom I refuse to say anything to as they pick up trash around the lake as well. There are signs to not feed them, but these two have always ignored them. Crocus were bloomin. Flickers were pronouncing their desires loudly enough to be heard over cars. Hairies were drumming away in usual spots. Snow was still evident in spots. Red-bellied Woodpeckers were as raucous as ever, but with a bit more zest. We were all feeling a taste of spring enlivening our blood.

Publicado el sábado, 05 de marzo de 2022 a las 12:19 AM por wildreturn wildreturn | 18 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

lunes, 07 de marzo de 2022

Finding Peace and Surprises at Riverlands: a Sandhill Crane, a Mink and more

We seemed to have Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary mostly to ourselves when we arrived in the afternoon with temps in the 50s and the sky a bit moody. Very few people were around, but there were so many birds. A sense of both peace and joy arose as we observed whatever made their presence known. When we first drove into the area, we spoke of how lovely it was to be open to surprises and not have any target species in mind. A dark morph Red-tailed Hawk was an immediate delight as we drove along Red School Road. A Sandhill Crane flying by was a huge surprise as we drove to the blind along Orton Road behind Heron Pond and saw her flying over the pond and heading toward Lincoln Shields. Then a mink made a very dashing appearance. A fun spider landed on the window. Snow Geese called, alerting us to their presence as they flew about in small groups most of the time we were there. Greater White-fronted Geese and Canada Geese were still present in big numbers at Teal Pond. Four Trumpeter Swans were blushed with their gorgeous breeding russet. Ducks were everywhere: Wood Ducks, first of the season Blue-winged Teal, numerous Northern Shovelers, Gadwall, American Wigeons, Mallards, Northern Pintail, hordes of Green-winged Teal, a few Redheads, many Ring-necked Ducks, both Greater and Lesser Scaup, several Buffleheads, a pair of Hooded Mergansers, twenty plus Red-breasted Mergansers and a half dozen Common Mergansers. Pied-billed Grebes and three Horned Grebes (one in transition!) tickled our fancy. American Coots were grouping and ungrouping in various places. Killdeer and Wilson's Snipe were scattered about. Four Bonaparte's Gulls hung out for a bit near the dam, then flew off, but other than that little group, there were fewer gulls today than on other days, with Ring-billed and Herring being the only other species we observed. A group of ten Double-crested Cormorants kept flying about seeming unsure as to where to hang. American White Pelicans dotted the bay and flew overhead in numerous small groups. Great Blue Herons hung along the edges of water bodies, hunting. Turkey Vultures and Bald Eagles were about. American Kestrels were still present and hovering, hunting mice. Song, White-throated, White-crowned, Savannah, and Fox Sparrows were behind Heron Pond. There were Meadowlarks, Horned Larks (although the photos are poor, they are super fun in that they clearly demonstrate why the Horned Lark is called 'horned'), Eastern Towhees, and hundreds of blackbirds. Despite the numerous burns going on, it was a gift to have this place to go to today, where we rejoiced in the birds and their beauty.

As a side note, Fish Crows are back. We ran into a group yesterday at Busch CA.

Publicado el lunes, 07 de marzo de 2022 a las 03:07 AM por wildreturn wildreturn | 35 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

miércoles, 09 de marzo de 2022

New arrivals: Ruby-crowned Kinglets and a Pied-billed Grebe

39°F today. Bit nippy, but I catapulted out the door to see what might be arriving at the park, as March is a month of delicious first arrivals. Normally, the cold would keep me in, but I could feel every part of me yearning to face the cold and not spend another minute indoors. Even though not many people were in the park, since it was cold, but also since they'd closed off most of the roads into the park - they forgot one and some cars snuck in. Every first week of the month, the park is supposed to be closed to vehicular traffic. Why was it closed today, the second week? I have no idea, but I rejoiced, as did the birds. It had rained heavily on Sunday night - 2", two nights ago, and the sinkholes of the park were filled with water. Rusties were enjoying this with gusto! A Pied-billed Grebe was in little Horseshoe Lake! A new arrival!
More kinglets had arrived, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets were mixing with Golden-crowned! One of a number of Brown Creepers kept very close to a group of kinglets, almost seeming to follow them. They love these trees whose bark is always peeling off in small fragments, reminding me of birch, but I'm not as astute as I'd like to be when it comes to tree identification. Interesting to notice who groups with who, who follows who, what trees attract with insects or tidbits of some sort I'm sure I'm unaware of. Maybe iNat will teach me a thing or two about plants this year. This is the first winter I noticed so many Golden-crowned overwintering, by the way. The Flickers were louder today. Cardinals were in full throttle mode - singing away. Nuthatches were caching food. Titmice were here here here and everywhere. Chickadees were checking out cavities still. A Red-shouldered Hawk was harassing the Great Horned Owl family, to no avail. The babes were hopping up and down and triangulating and curious and raring to go, but not yet able. Mama was not so eager, standing on the edge of the cavity on high alert. Photographers have been coming by more frequently as are curious people. Mama's getting used to this a bit more, but she's still very shy. She used to flush at a mere glance her way from a human at a distance. Now she allows some folk who have no sense of decency to gawk at her from right below the tree. It frustrates me that people aren't more respectful, but she could always scalp them with her talons if she wanted to, so I'm not worried about her. In other areas of the park, Red-tailed Hawks, Cooper's Hawks and Barred Owls are nesting. Every sinkhole seemed to have congregating Juncos and a few sparrows. A Turkey Vulture flew overhead. Three people taking walks were into being social and approached me and kept me yammering on about birds, which isn't hard to do. I meant my walk to be more brisk and more about 'cardio,' but the birds slowed me down and hey, I had binoculars and my little Canon SX50, so who was I fooling? This was not just about exercise. The fearsome foursome (two Swan Geese, one domestic Graylag Goose and a Ross's Goose) had their heads tucked in in a huddle, although one of the Swan Geese peeked my way, but seeing it was me, tucked his head back in. A very handsome Grackle announced his amorous intentions, so I recorded him. I'd love to find a nest this year, but they nest so secretively high in the conifers. Maybe I just haven't really wanted to be obtrusive and haven't really tried. Surely I can find a way? Hmm. Looking up in the sky at the moon, I noticed a sliver on the way to full winking at me. Sigh. Sweet walk.

Publicado el miércoles, 09 de marzo de 2022 a las 03:17 AM por wildreturn wildreturn | 19 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

jueves, 10 de marzo de 2022

New arrivals: Orange-crowned Warbler, Towhees, and the amazing Fox Sparrow Phenomenon

As the global conflict with the Ukraine at it's epicenter escalates and the suffering in the Ukraine tears apart my heart, I reached out to my local park here in St. Louis City for solace. Finding an single Orange-crowned Warbler foraging in some ivy growing up a tree, I found myself momentarily enchanted. Finding eight Fox Sparrows in one thicket meant the annual explosion of them in the park was happening, as hundreds would be descending on our area. Two male Eastern Towhees with Cardinals and more White-crowned Sparrows than days were cause for rejoicing as the slow trickle of new arrivals was happening, the slow trickle that would become a cascading waterfall by the end of April. I love this slow trickle, taking my time to appreciate each surprise. A pair of Cardinals were engaging in their courtship ritual, which I tried to get on video, but failed, as each time the male came to give her an offering, I seemed to have the camera off or malfunctioning, so I simply rejoiced. I wish I had a way to share my videos of the Fox Sparrows and the Orange-crowned Warbler, but perhaps a link will have to do. The Great Horned Owl babes were left to themselves in the cavity. They are such a nuisance to Mom as they bop around all eager to escape, not quite ready. Rusties were even more numerous than prior days, if that is possible. I tried looking for a Common Grackle nest in the spruce, but to not avail. As I walked home I come across a piece of bark that looked like a mask that nature had made and I enjoyed a fantasy for a few moments of this fairyland of mine, where I came dressed in little throw-offs of the wild along with others, celebrating.

Fox Sparrows: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildreturn/51929974885/in/dateposted/
Orange-crowned Warbler: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildreturn/51929138951/in/photostream/

Publicado el jueves, 10 de marzo de 2022 a las 06:40 AM por wildreturn wildreturn | 16 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

lunes, 21 de marzo de 2022

Early spring brings a new moth species as well as first of the season avian arrivals - Phoebes, Field Sparrows, Pectoral Sandpipers, Yellow-headed Blackbirds and more

How do I love thee, small mothies? Let me count the ways. Seriously, the joy of documenting the tiny world of moths, insects and other beings drawn to the sheet at night has begun in earnest for the year. I worry about adding light pollution and disrupting these beings' natural rhythms with my enormous desire to peek into their world, but I am putting those concerns on hold and trusting the calling for now. Roland's Sallow moths, Small Phigalia Moths and Speckled Fruitworm have been some of the early ones to show up, all thrills as they are harbingers of spring. A new moth species on the brink of getting a name by Richard Lee Brown, appeared in my yard - a Chimoptesis species. Another new species of insect for me, the Dusty-winged Lacewing, recently made an appearance. Numerous Hypena scabra continue to delight in their beauteous variation. A number of Epinotia species I've not photographed before have shown up in greater variation, impossible to narrow down to species as I don't collect, only photograph.

Our first of the spring Phoebe arrived at Carondelet three days ago, as did a number of Field Sparrows along with a Brown Thrasher. Blue winged Teal have been arriving and passing through. Wood Ducks are on the move, as we saw our first pair at Carondelet the other day. They are in our area all winter, but not at Carondelet Park in the city. When they move through Carondelet, another rite of passage of spring is occurring.

Just yesterday, our first of spring Tree Swallows and Pectoral Sandpipers brought great joy. We've continued to relish the presence of numerous duck species (particularly the Ruddy Ducks that are really looking so very ruddy against those stunning blue bills!), Wilson's snipe and the young Great Horned Owl babes that have yet to branch. One has stood on the edge of the nest and flapped her wings, but plopped right back into the cavity when the wind seemed too frightening to contend with. Double-crested Cormorants and American White Pelicans are increasing in number and on the move. Snow Geese are still in the area, as are a few Trumpeter Swans.

An immature Red-tailed Hawk gave us a thrill when we noticed one 'red' adult feather in his tail. After some research, we learned this was 'adventitious' as it was only one, not the normal symmetrical molt - and that as the year progresses, he or she will eventually molt all her immature tail feathers and get that stunning red tail.

Blackbirds are continuing everywhere, including 100s of Rusty Blackbirds (such a relief, as their numbers have been dwindling drastically), and the Red-winged Blackbirds are turfing out. It's a joy to watch them display those gorgeous red epaulets. Yellow-headed Blackbirds are appearing in the mix of hundreds of congregating Red-winged Blackbirds, Grackles, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Starlings and Rusties at areas like Columbia Bottom Conservation Area yesterday. Common redpolls continued in big numbers in our area, so we visited a friend who was seeing five at his feeders in Florissant. Wow. We might have seen our last Short-eared Owl for the season about a week ago. We wish them well in their endeavors north of us. Live long and prosper, beloveds! (Yeah, I really adore Spock.)

And I would be remiss to not mention that Spring Beauty is starting to make it's big splash across the land. As I typed, a Hairy Woodpecker is pounding away outside my window, calling me to get outside and continue to take notice!

(I took a walk after writing all that and saw my first Goatweed Leafwing of the season! And a first of the season Yellow-rumped Warbler in the park. Although they are in the outlying areas over the winter, when they come through Carondelet Park in St. Louis City, they are on the move! More migration marvelousness!)

Publicado el lunes, 21 de marzo de 2022 a las 05:16 PM por wildreturn wildreturn | 42 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

miércoles, 23 de marzo de 2022

Brown Creepers and Golden-crowned Kinglets Galore!

These early slow building days of spring migration continue to play out in the park with great excitement. After heavy rain last night and most of today, we had a break, but the skies still spoke of much more rain to come. We ventured forth anyway, umbrella in tow, to see what was happening at the park. Large numbers of Golden-crowned Kinglets had arrived and were tinkling from many trees! The "psst" of Brown Creepers was echoing everywhere as we relished the annual spring phenomenon of massive numbers coming through, with at least two Brown Creepers on every tree. A Great Blue Heron flew in. Brown Thrashers were singing in the sinkholes. Fox Sparrows were scratching in the leaves for goodies. The Rusties were even more numerous than ever, literally 1000+ present along with more Brown-headed Cowbirds, nesting Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles. Chickadees, Titmice, Cardinals, Nuthatches, Blue Jays and Robins were all extremely active and frisky. Jays were engaging in their quiet seductions, Nuthatches were emitting lively courting calls, Cardinals were sending out arias, Titmice were calling their loves to come 'here here here.' Chickadees were still investigating cavities. Flickers were vying for mates, Red-bellied Woodies were more raucous than usual. The trees are just starting to bud, and many of the birds were found enjoying the bud tidbits. (I'm never sure if they are after the insects or something else hidden in the new buds that I don't know about.)

The Great Horned Owl babes popped out a little before sunset and tested their wings with stretches and flapping and tiny flight hops from one side of the cavity to the other. Earlier in the day, they were rain-soaked and hunkered down inside the cavity, only peering out over the edge. The cavity is completely open on top, having been formed by a large limb that broke off and created a bit of a tube, like a sock, that leaves the babes exposed when Mama is not present to cover them with her body. She's not at the nest much these days, as these two are too large for her to fit inside it any longer and they are too hungry for her to stay without inciting constant begging. Staying nearby across the lake in a pine, but not too close, she provides an incentive for them to come out and learn to fly.

We left that evening cherishing the majestic stormy sky full of promise.

Publicado el miércoles, 23 de marzo de 2022 a las 01:09 AM por wildreturn wildreturn | 7 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

martes, 29 de marzo de 2022

Coyote in Carondelet

Yearning to be outside with what was happening in my little local park on a sunny afternoon, I walked the two blocks and entered the special realm of Carondelet. Despite the noises of the city, this park always manages to transport me into 'wild' space. Quickly checking on the progress of the Great Horned Owl babes who had not yet left the safety of their nest, I walked to my favorite spot of the park, the roundabout. From there, I could hear bird songs and calls coming from over five surrounding sinkholes, Rusties, Robins, Cardinals, Chickadees, Titmice, Creepers, Woodpeckers and more. Deciding to slowly walk up on one of the largest and most popular sinkholes, the Black-billed Cuckoo sinkhole (named 'black-billed cuckoo' after one decided to spend a week there one spring munching on Eastern Tent Caterpillars - although black-billed cuckoos are not rare, they are not easily found, and most certainly do not reliably spend day after day in the same place during migration - that was the one and only time so far that I've experience that), I noticed movement as I walked closer, big movement, movement of a furry mammal. Fox? Carefully lifting my binoculars and peering through the thicket edge that lined the sinkhole and provided cover for this mystery, I gasped when I realized there was a Coyote peering back. Lifting my little documentation camera with care, as I didn't want to startle her, I took a few photos then videoed her, as she had not run away yet. I was within 45' of her. For about exactly one minute, I got to film her sniffing at me, looking my way then behind herself and then to the side, deciding what to do. Suddenly, as I knew she would, she disappeared. I walked the rest of my walk as light as a feather, in the trance of the trickster, humbled by such fortune - and grateful. Although the photo that came out the clearest is still a blur, it is a delightful blur as you try to find her. Here is a link to my video:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildreturn/51960821828

Publicado el martes, 29 de marzo de 2022 a las 01:23 AM por wildreturn wildreturn | 1 observación | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

miércoles, 30 de marzo de 2022

Carondelet Park: First of the season Hermit Thrush, Winter Wren, Fish Crows, Pine Warbler & Louisiana Waterthrush - and more Fox Sparrows, Phoebes, Kinglets, Thrashers, Towhees, & Creepers

The buildup toward the crescendo of spring migration continued in its early stages as I walked the park yesterday with Andy. First thing, of course, we checked on the branching Great Horned Owl young. Mama and Papa were both on high alert in the pines across from the two young, who were doing fine, napping in deciduous trees, completely exposed to the two Red-tailed Hawks flying overhead. (The Red-tailed Hawks are nesting, too, but at the other end of the park.) As we stood there at the little lake of Carondelet Park, joyous the young branchers were still doing well, a Belted Kingfisher flew by and landed, a male. The female had been by for the first time in a while the other day. It would be a wonder indeed to find their nest nearby, probably. I speculate at River Des Peres? A pair is always using the lake every year. This little lake is stocked by the Missouri Department of Conservation, as are many small lakes in the city, and attracts many fisherpeople as well as birds. Suddenly overhead, I heard Fish Crows! They flew serenely and quickly over the lake, calling 'aw aw.' Even though we'd already ran into our first of the season at Busch CA, this was the first of the season in the city over our park, which is only two blocks from our house.

As we continued to walk the park, we noticed two Phoebe in almost every sinkhole and more Golden-crowned Kinglets than days before. These tiny bits of joy, these kinglets, these fast moving imps sprinkled the bushes and trees with their whispered 'see see see' me. If possible, there were even more Creepers. There were more Brown Thrashers, Towhees, Sapsuckers and Fox Sparrows, who seemed to be peaking in numbers. I've written about the spring migratory explosion of Fox Sparrow numbers in another entry, but it bears repeating. Brown Thrashers bred in the park last year, to my utter thrill. May that continue! They often come through and breed, but I don't always have the privilege, like last year, of catching the young out in the open early. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are the only woodpecker that visits and doesn't stay in our park for the summer, but a few often winter. Our regulars are Red-bellied, Flicker, Downy, and Hairy. Red-headed used to be a regular, but they are in the city all year. Pileated visits are super rare - they are mostly in more heavily wooded areas. When the Sapsucker numbers begin to increase in spring like this as they migrate north, we find many Downy Woodpeckers following close behind their newly drilled holes dripping with sweetness. When Cape May Warblers and others come through later in the year, they will do the same. Many are fans of sweetness.

Walking quietly up to the Coyote sinkhole, as I might start referring to it (see previous journal entry), I noticed a tiny bouncy flying mouse, my first of the season Winter Wren in the park. Another sinkhole held the delight of a first of the season peaceful presence of a diminutive Hermit Thrush. And yet two others, a first of the season Louisiana Waterthrush and Pine Warbler. (After editing our photos of the Waterthrush, I noticed an ingenious insect riding her chest and avoiding becoming prey, well, too soon.)

Goldfinch were bathing in a sinkhole holding water and delighted Andy and I in their changing plumage, that bright yellow coming in on the males. Flickers, Juncos, White-throated Sparrows, Rusties, Cardinals, Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, Song Sparrows, Nuthatch, Chickadees, Blue Jays, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, and many other birds were also active in the park. Starlings have picked many branch holes for nests. I hope they don't steal the Hairy nesting cavity again this year.

As I type, it is lightly raining outside, a slight break in the otherwise downpour, as I listen to Cardinals, Robins and a Carolina Wren sing. The trees are bursting forth with blooms and leaves. The winds are suddenly gusting BIG and the rain is now pouring hard again and the birds are quiet. Such is spring. Gotta get that singing in between the bouts of rain. Ah, an American Kestrel just cried out! Springing from my chair, I grabbed a camera and took a few terrible photos through the front door, the awning protecting me from getting soaked. JOY!

Publicado el miércoles, 30 de marzo de 2022 a las 04:06 PM por wildreturn wildreturn | 15 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario