29 July 2009

Goslings' First Flight

IIII ) lll Goslings' First Flight (27Jul09)

1948 Sspopiikimi - we've been here almost a half-hour already, sitting in our same spot on the grassy bank just across from the main beaver lodge. There's so much activity to watch tonight, I've only now got the chance to start taking notes

1957 We arrived just as one of the beavers was bringing a bundle of cottonwood branches to the south entrance. The gosling family and southern coot family had just arrived at the lodge as well. There was a kingfisher on the lodge perch and mourning doves on the ground nearby

2009 Soon the whole beaver family was out. Even though it looked like the branch bundle was brought into the lodge, perhaps some were lost at the entrance along the way, because one of them set to eating right away. Another beaver swam south to the canal that leads to their subpond. It was followed shortly by two more. The remaining two (including the one who was eating) stuck close to the lodge

2019 There's always something new going on here, and tonight there's definitely exciting developments with the coots and goslings. We watched the parent coots feeding along shore south of the beaver lodge with their chick. Then, when the chick wasn't looking, the parents walked around to the north side of the lodge, got in the water, and swam away. For about fifteen minutes the baby coot looked around, cried, and pecked for food alone. Finally, somehow, it sluthed the direction its parents had gone and swam north to find them

2025 The gosling family, for their part, sat on shore. All but the ever-alert papa tucked their heads into their wings. After about forty minutes of this rest, I noticed they were standing up and the parents were giving head nods as though they wanted to go somewhere. A couple of the goslings nodded back. Then mama and papa began honking and took flight toward the grassy bank where they often feed. Two of the goslings ran and then flew after them, the other one ran and then swam. The whole family ended up in the water just off the grassy shore, regathered, preened, and climbed up to feed. This is the first time we’ve seen the goslings attempt flight

2032 Meanwhile, the two beavers at the lodge have been doing all kinds of things. One of them brought arms-full of old bulrush stems and muck out of the lodge and piled it in the water like a flotilla off their south door. Alternately one or the other have been coming to sniff the air around us, and occasionally give a tail slap. They've eaten, groomed together, and climbed on top of the lodge individually, both to groom and to pack on more sod. The three who left for the sub-pond earlier on have not returned

2042 While observing the "two" beavers at the lodge groom one another, just moments ago, a third emerged from the entrance, bringing our count back to what we had noted in spring, a family of six

2046 One of the beavers who'd gone to the sub-pond returned home empty of paw. Immediately, two started back out toward the canal south, and the remaining two began exploring north. Of the latter, one seems to have went ashore somewhere on the grassy bank just north of us. The other turned back, went into the lodge, re-emerged and is now heading south toward the sub-pond canal

2054 One of the beavers who'd gone toward the sub-pond just returned and, not even stopping in the lodge, swam north and went to shore into the wet meadows. Is this the same one who only recently swam south, returning because its partner didn't follow? We don't know

2058 We've heard some splashing from the sub-pond canal. On the last splash, there were large ripples. Then a beaver swam out of the canal, went underwater, and didn't resurface until it was right at the south door to the lodge. It went inside, immediately came back out, swam over to check on us, then proceeded to the grassy bank north of us where we know one of the others climbed ashore earlier. Where they've gone, there's a drag they use to take prunings from the golf course

2104 The beaver who'd gone up into the wet meadows returned to the lodge, using the north door. At the same time, one of those who'd been in the sub-pond walked into the wet meadows to the south, then returned to the water, and is just now eating by the south lodge entrance

2107 Twice now, in the almost two hours we've sat here, a parent swainson's hawk has come and gone from the nest with meals. Always mobbed by half a dozen little birds

2110 The voles seem to like Piipiiaakii, they keep dancing in the grass by her feet

2113 The two beavers from the lodge swam over, either just to check us out or to distract us. While they moved switchbacks in the water at our feet, one of the beavers who'd been at the sub-pond returned with a cottonwood branch and dove into the lodge. As soon as it was in, the two by us disbursed, one heading to the grassy bank north of us, the other toward the sub-pond canal

IIII ) llll Quiet Night (28Jul09)

1954 Sspopiikimi - back in front of the main lodge. Found several alfalfa plants clipped down and beaver eaten on the way in. Passed the scabby redhead and her two ducklings, as well as a mallard with her one. The gosling couple are sleeping up on the golf course. There's a goldfinch flying above singing its five note song, and a kingfisher just stopped on the lodge perch to swallow its catch

2016 The yearling beaver with light freckled nose just came out of the lodge and swam north a ways along the grassy bank, then crossed the pond and moved up the nearest canal to the wet meadows. The diving beetles are making little raindrop ripples all over the pond's surface

2023 I just noticed that the mildweed now have their big, cucumber-like seed heads. Piipiiaakii says she noticed them there yesterday

2026 Another of the one- or two-year old beavers just came out of the lodge, but didn't swim close enough for me to look at its face before heading to the sub-pond canal

2040 Flight training is definitely underway for the gosling family. We just watched them swim out to their old nest island. Then, after just a couple minutes, mama and papa roused them to try and fly back up to the golf greens. None of the goslings made it out of the pond. They all wound-up half running, half flying, until they reached the embankment, then they climbed ashore

2044 A large ominous cloud is passing overhead, raining down on us. The big-brood mallard has brought her four nearly-grown ducklings swimming past us on their way north. The two beavers just returned to their lodge, the one from the subpond carrying what looked like a sprig of diamond willow. And there was a painted turtle eye-balling us, its head stretched out of the water just a few feet away

2104 Another darker, larger beaver just came home from the subpond. It must have gone out there before we arrived. I'm damp and a little chilled, but at least the mosquitoes have calmed down, and there's not nearly as many diving beetles surfacing now

2117 Now a second beaver has returned from the north end of the pond as well, this one carrying what looks like a cattail or bulrush - the whole plant, including root and at least two stems. As soon as this one dives into the north entrance, a dark-furred beaver comes out the south entrance and swims to the subpond canal