Belated chicks

 

Mallard chicks, still in their natal down, were first seen in mid-May. Since then, the chicks seen have been juveniles, smaller than adults, but long out of their natal down and all looking like the female duck.

It came as a surprise yesterday, over a month and a half after seeing the first ones, to see fresh mallard chicks in their natal down. That strikes me as a rather long period over which hatching has occurred.

These mallard chicks, swimming along a creek this week, have been long out of their natal down.

Last evening, I watched some tiny chicks that looked as if they had just hatched.

 

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Unrequited yellowthroat

 

The Common Yellowthroat is a warm-season warbler that is found in our patchy fields and wetlands. It feeds and breeds locally.

I encountered a canoodling couple in some wetlands. Each hung around the other bearing a grub to offer a potential mate. Yellowthroat protocol requires that the male follows the female until she flutters her wings as a signal that she’s ready to mate. Yet, while each bird paid close attention to the other, she never gave the signal.

Each Common Yellowthroat (female on wire, male flying up) brings a grub to offer the other.

The two of them seem to compare their grub offerings, but to no effect.

They got together at various places along the wires of a fence.

But, she ultimately took her grubs and went off on her own.

And he abandoned the quest — for now.

 

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Canada’s diversity

 

Today, July 1st, marks Canada Day and the country’s 152nd birthday.

Canadians value and celebrate diversity — by which they mean cultural diversity. However, some feel that the preservation of our species diversity merits a similar attention.

This selection of images, taken from the blog since last year’s celebration, was chosen more for variety than drama.

I start and finish with an uncharismatic phylum: arthropods. This deer fly is laying eggs.

A Northern Flicker father feeds ant’s eggs to his chicks. 

Turkey Vultures warm their wings in the morning sunlight, while eyeing tasty Kokanee spawning in the creek below.

An Osprey struggles to lift a large Kokanee from the Lake.

An elk browses in the woods.

If you are a small bird and you see this Merlin out of the corner of your eye, you are toast. 

Not all natural delights are wildlife species. This is a circumzenithal arc. 

A long-tailed weasel hunts. 

Succeeding in shooting a snipe in flight qualifies me as a sniper. 

A pika chows down on leaves. 

Two Double-crested Cormorants comment on the flyby of a third. 

A Rough-legged Hawk speculates on the edibility of my camera. 

A bee-mimic fly visits a flower.

A raven flies off with a Cassin’s Finch 

A Western Bluebird couple looks out from a nesting box. 

This striped skunk is probably out in the daylight because it is looking for a mate. 

A Bohemian Waxwing flies by. 

A mule deer stots

Migrating Trumpeter Swans have been feeding in the shallows of the Lake. 

These Western Toads are in amplexus.

A diving muskrat looks as if it is kissing the water. 

Two Great Horned Owlets, still in down, size up their new world. 

I close this collection with two more arthropods: a crab spider consuming a flying ant. 

 

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June goulash

 

This is a collection of images from June, none of which has had a posting of its own.

The Cedar Waxwing breeds around here in the summer.

This Eastern Kingbird feels the need to express its opinion.

A Cedar Waxwing flies across a field of flowers.

There have been thunderstorms of late. When precipitation falls from the thunderstorm anvil into the clear air below, it sometimes drags large pendulous pockets of air down with it. These dark pendulous blobs are called mamma. 

A Black-billed Magpie, here caught in flight, is common in some parts of BC, but not here.

Black-billed Magpies mate for life. During their courtship they use a tail-spreading display. The female, the smaller of the two, initiates the interaction by begging for food.

A Northern Rough-winged Swallow has a serene pose.

I rarely see a doe and a buck browsing together, but here they are. 

Wild Turkey chicks stay close to mommy. 

 

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A heron flew by

 

Following my posting, an eagle juvenile flew by, I watched a Great Blue Heron do likewise.

Mind you, the heron did not look my way, as the Bald Eagle had, but just went about its business of monitoring the wetlands.

A Great Blue Heron flies low over the wetlands.

 

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Eagle juvenile flew by

 

A juvenile Bald Eagle flew by.

 

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Loon stressed

 

Yesterday’s posting asked whether a loon rising out of the water and flapping its spread wings represented preening or aggression. A brochure, Learn to Read the Signs, from the Loon Preservation Committee says that the loon uses the wing flapping for each purpose. To distinguish them, one has to read the loon’s behaviour: had it been preening, or had it shown other signs of stress?

I saw no preening prior to the wing-flapping display, but it did go on to show another sign of stress: sinking low in the water so as to become inconspicuous. It could well have been my presence that prompted the loon’s actions. On the other hand, I was on the bank when the loon came swimming by. It probably had not expected someone to be there. The loon and I then just wandered off in different directions. 

A loon sinks in the water, apparently to make itself less conspicuous.

 

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Loon flapping

 

Now and then, I have watched a loon rise out of the water and flap its wings. Why is it doing this?

The Web gives me conflicting explanations of this behaviour. Some sources explain that this is merely an adjunct to preening: the loon is realigning its feathers. Other sources say that this is a territorial display: go away, this area is mine.

I watched a loon do this on a mountain lake this morning. I just don’t know if it was merely primping, or was challenging me. Who knows?

A Common Loon rose out of the water and flapped its wings.

 

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Raptors

 

Of late, raptors have become more apparent.

A week ago, a Great Horned Owlet was still in its downy plumage.

I see a Red-tailed Hawk only a few times a year. This one was soaring overhead.

The next day a different one was farther along the lakeshore.

Even farther along the shore, two Turkey Vultures were hunting.

 

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Spotty scraping

 

Spotted Sandpipers are somewhat unusual for they have a sexual role reversal: Males are largely passive; Females are territorial, sexually aggressive, and promiscuous. Previous years, I have captured scenes of sexual aggression, and mating. I now seem to have recorded rival females fighting over territory.

The observations began sweetly enough: Two spotties copulated at the the water’s edge.

Upon completion, each bird flew maybe six metres along the beach where there was another Spotted Sandpiper. But, their similarity meant that it wasn’t possible to tell which was which.

Promptly a fight began when one bird grabbed the other by the bill. Given recorded spotty behaviour, both are almost certainly females. 

The fight carried on in the air, 

on the beach, 

and a mixture of beach and air.

Which bird prevailed is unclear, but one of them was eventually driven off. 

 

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