Sunday, May 31, 2015

Lame Duck

I've previously reported on the Ducks on the Pond. Now we have ducks at the feeders.

It seems that they like the food knocked to the ground by the other birds. Noticing this, we spread food on the ground for them, both here and at the back pond, where they continue to regularly visit.

But if you look closely you can see that something isn't quite right with the bird we've come to call "Mrs. Ducky Lucky".

There is clearly a problem with her left foot. She rarely if ever stands on it. And while Mr. Ducky Lucky will walk (waddle?) from the back pond to the feeders, Mrs. Ducky Lucky always makes the trip to and form the pond by air. Where she will rest on her belly, pecking at any food within reach.

And lately Mr. Ducky Lucky has a new lady friend. Or perhaps he is gathering a harem? Mrs. Ducky Lucky often visits by herself now. But on other days the two will be together. And then there is the occasional threesome. It is not clear what is going on. Mallards are generally monogamous, but like most birds extra-pair copulations do occur.

Mallards start nesting in April. These birds fly in once or twice a day, usually in the evening.  But they don't stay all day. So if they are nesting why are they leaving the nest? And as it is the female who incubates the eggs and tends to the young, does this mean that Mrs. Ducky Lucky is really Miss Ducky Lucky and has no nest to tend? Or is there a well hidden next out by the back pond and ducklings will be bobbing about on the water soon enough? Time will tell.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Cow in a Lake

In April we went to south eastern Arizona, mainly to see the various avifauna the area is known for. We included a stop at Patagonia Lake State Park.

And as you can see we saw, among other birds, American coots and ruddy ducks. (The coots are to the left and the ducks to the right. You might need to bigafy the image to see them.)

And we saw cow # 932. Enjoying, as many of the visitors to the park do, a dip in the lake.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Not Just Turtles ...

We recently visited Magee Marsh, and saw 20 species of warblers and plenty of other birds.

But that's for another post.

This post is about this:

Which Patty spotted as we strolled the boardwalk. She's got the eye for reptiles it seems. I asked a friend it he knew what species it might be, and he asked some friends and the consensus is that it is a melanistic garter snake. Cool.

It was very small, perhaps newly hatched? I quick snapped this shot with my phone. While it didn't seem to concerned with me it didn't hang around long either, slithering off into the hollow log.  No doubt looking for, and trying not to become, a meal.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Larger Turtle

Wandering about our yard this evening Patty, who seems to have an eye for turtles, spotted this guy.

The first eastern box turtle we've seen in the yard (we have a rescued three toed box turtle named Magnus that Patty has had for years, which is now living in special enclosure we built out by the back pond).

We've had snapping and painted turtles visit the yard as well.


There was a time, not so long ago, that this fellow would have been shipped off to Philadelphia (where we, and Magnus, once lived). John McPhee, in his wonderful book The Pine Barrens, noted that the Pineys "... sold box turtles by the gross to people in Philadelphia, who used the turtles to keep cellars free of snails - a market that has declined."

Hopefully this guy will hang around for the summer, performing a similar duty, munching on the slugs that in turn munch on our garden plants.

Now if we could only find something to munch on the groundhog ...

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Tiny Turtle

While touring the gardens at Suningive at Whitesbog Patty spotted this little fellow.

A fellow visitor to the gardens. Or perhaps a resident.

The size of a 50¢ piece and showing no fear of us giant humans, wandering about on turtle business.