24 July 2009

Okonokiistsi Otsitsi'tssp

IIII House Finch Fledglings (24Jul09)

1653 With a couple hours to spare before the Canadian Studies Institute dinner, we make our way to Sspopiikimi, intent on sitting down near the currant patch to learn which birds are feeding off the ripe berries. I’d noticed how many small birds were in this brush yesterday, when I passed by on my way to look at the swainson’s hawk nest on the east side of the pond. Dani had stayed back on the west side, watching a great blue heron feed hunt beside the main beaver lodge, and nursing a sore knee

1705 In the full daylight, we can see right down to the bottom of the pond in all but the deeper holes, and the circular trench that the beavers have created to navigate underwater is clearly defined

1708 On our walk to the currant patch on the south end, we pass the gosling couple feeding on the banks, the scabby redhead mama with her ducklings, and all three coot families. Of the latter, the northern couple still have four chicks, while the other two have each lost all but one. These coot babies are now feeding themselves for the most part, some even bobbing their upper torsos underwater like ducklings

1713 It's interesting to see that while the coot families may move about the pond to feed, they still maintain their north to south positioning relative to one another

1714 As we near the berry-rich south end, a couple dozen cedar waxwings make an appearance. They all seem to be coupled-up, moving loosely as a group, but in pairs

1719 We eventually find a nice place on a high bank overlooking a small narrow-leaf cottonwood tree, surrounded by fruiting honeysuckle, black currant, and golden currant

1734 The smaller birds don't trust us a great deal. A few at a time waxwings, clay-colored sparrows, and bank swallows stop-in to inspect us, landing briefly on the cottonwood tree, then moving on. At one point, a group of house finches arrives, and we get great shots of one of the rosy-breasted adults feeding a drab little fledgling

1853 We sat about forty minutes or so in the sun like that, then began making our way toward the truck, thinking we might need showers before our dinner engagement. Along the way back, we observed an eastern kingbird eating golden currants. And the fenceline along the golf course was full of waxwings acting rather bold. A few even swooped us

1857 We passed the big-brood mallard mother, who now has just four ducklings. And the western cottonwood trees near the north end of the pond were swarming with hundreds of swallows