19 August 2009


IIII ) llllllllllllllllllllll Mallard Greeting (15Aug09)

0947 Ihkitsikammiksi - the Sun gave seven magical environmental features to ensure the life of future generations escape annihilation: mountains, rain, coulee canyons, forests, wind, lightning, and the atmosphere. Each provides a buffer, a balancing, an opportunity for us to gain a little distance on cold, pursuing death. There's no such thing as "just weather"... this ceaseless rain, continuing through a full moon cycle beyond the norm, is a warning, another chance to escape. But are we, hidden away in false security behind our climate-controlled walls, going to take heed? Are we going to use the opportunity, or just sit here on the other side of the rain storm and wait for our pursuer to catch up?

2005 Sspopiikimi - already in shadow, Naato'si having gone down beyond the coulee rim. Tomorrow we'll have a more thorough visit. Tonight, at least a survey. During my nap, I dreamed that the gosling was with family

2011 We walk in from the north end, where a whitetail deer is walking the ridge between the pond and Old Man River. There's a ksisskstaki crawling up into the wet meadows here, wading in amidst the hemp, probably to get at the nested seam of rabbit willow. We can hear one of the baby swainsons crying for their nest in the south

2018 Good news for the misfit coot chick... it is feeding midpond with its age-mate and its friend's parents, and seems to have been accepted into their family (at least for the evening). As we watch these coots, an intruder hawk sweeps in and is immediately set upon by the swainson parents, who chase it downriver, twice bumping it with dives from above

2029 Nearing the main lodge, we see one of the ksisskstakiiksi swim out to the midpond wet meadows and enter a canal in the cattails which a mother mallard and her subadult duckling have just emerged from. As we watch these ducks bob for food in the pond, we become engaged in small conversation with a shivering homeless man (Ray) and his caregiver (Madeline) who are visiting this pond for the first time, though Ray grew up in Lethbridge from the age of eleven

2043 At the ksisskstakioyis, we see the scabby redhead and her two chicks accompanied by a mallard. As they pass a family of three other mallards, the one splits-off quite purposefully from the redhead and joins that group. When it does so, it greets the three other mallards bill to bill and then cheek to cheek in a kind of nuzzle (something we've never seen before), then begins feeding with them. The redhead and her chicks swim away to the north

2101 Patches follows us just off-shore as we continue our walk to the south end of the pond. There are several mallard families out at this end amidst the islands, but so far no sign of the gosling. It's fairly dark now though, so there's a good possibility that it is just laying down somewhere we can't see. But on the other hand, perhaps my dream was accurate, and its family returned to take the gosling away

2118 Aww... the dream must have been wishful, because as we're starting our walk back to the truck, and a great horned owl begins singing its night song from the woods beyond the south levy, we come upon the lone gosling floating quietly off-shore

IIII ) lllllllllllllllllllllll Hawklings (16Aug09)

1826 Sspopiikimi - walking in from the north again this evening, our plan is to combine some observation time with another harvesting of currants

1828 Along the midpond section to the main ksisskstakioyis, we passed the northern coot family (now five surviving young), the southern coots with their two chicks (one a midpond adopt), a mallard family of four, another with two ducklings, and the scabby redhead family. It's early for all but the northern coots to be up at this end of the water

1835 Usually the swainson hawklings are crying when we arrive. We've grown so used to their calls that the absence of this sound so far this evening is immediately registered by both of us. We don't see the young hawks standing around the nest either, and now it's becoming a question of whether they may be on the wing finally

1840 We stop for a break in front of the ksisskstakioyis, just as the juvenile spotted sandpiper does the same. Surprised with the cool wind and recent rain how many people are here this evening - a couple out for a walk, a group of three briefly exploring the wet meadows, and a lone fly-fisherman heading to the river

1851 The hawklings have just awoke, they were merely bedded down below the nest rim, out of sight. Piipiiaakii is staying by the ksisskstakioyis to watch and rest her legs. I'm making my way around the south end of the pond, to see if I can get a closer view. On the way, I pass the lone gosling, feeding on the golf green. There are about a dozen mallards dipping around the southern islands. And I notice how black the chokecherries have become, and how brightly yellow the goldenrod

1915 I make my way around the pond and through the woods, slowly moving closer until I find a perfect pocket of brush near the subpond where I can conceal myself below the nest. Of course, the hawklings notice me, as do the swarms of mosquitoes, and one male pheasant who bursts out of the grass beside me

1921 Piipiiaakii tells me, via text, that the gosling has just flown. Some kid was chasing it with a golf club, trying to hit it. Typical illogical, brutish, violent, and stupid human behavior. Damn. In any case, the gosling escaped to an island. Some of its wing feathers are noticeably damaged, which is why we figure it was unable to move with its family. But it must be healing now, no thanks the golfers

1927 Piipiiaakii also tells me that the caspian turn is back, hunting the south end, and that she's getting pictures of its dives. I'm waiting to see if the hawk parents bring a meal in. Meantime, I'm jealously looking at the tern in the distance

2002 I sit with the hawklings for a half hour, with no sign of the parents. These babies are getting restless, crying repeatedly and occasionally flying to or from a neighboring tree. I know eventually the parents will come with food, but maybe it's better I'm not here when they do. I pack up my equipment and start making my way back to Piipiiaakii

2020 I catch up to Piipiiaakii beside the gosling, who she's visiting. She said it was down in the pond looking at her, debating whether or not to approach. Piipiiaakii just stood quietly and she could see the moment in its face, when the gosling made its decision to approach. It walked right up beside her and started feeding beside her, and that's where I found the two of them

IIII ) llllllllllllllllllllllll Gosling Visit (17Aug09)

1841 Sspopiikimi - nearly crawling, I'm so bent-over with lower back spasm. We're slowly making our way out to sit beside the path that the gosling takes on its way up the grassy slope to eat

1844 Midpond there's a congragation of mallards, mothers and sub-adult ducklings. There's fourteen of them, along with the southern coots, their chick, and their foster child. We get to watch a great blue heron for a few minutes, just long enough to catch a fish before it takes wing

1855 Arriving to our chosen seat for the night, we can see the gosling far out amidst the southern islands, just below the duck blind. There are three mallards here as well, quacking and dipping for food

1919 The swainson hawklings have awoke, and are now dancing around the branches by their nest, crying for food. Otherwise the pond is quiet, the beavers and muskrats have yet to emerge

1949 Finally the gosling decides to make his way to our shore. Before climbing up, he swam down below us and gave a few honks. We gave some honks in return, and we had a little conversation. Then the gosling made some purposeful head nods, preened for a few seconds, swam straight to shore and climbed up on the bank to feed nearby

2035 Each time someone comes walking up the path toward us, the gosling runs down the embankment, sometimes entering the water, on other occasions ducking down behind high grass. These passers-by don't even take notice

11 August 2009

Hawkling Flight

IIII ) llllllllllllllllll Hawkling Flight (11Aug09)

1912 Sspopiikimi - glad to have made it out here while the sun's still above the coulee rim. It's gonna be tough to miss out on the happenings here while I go on that back-country expedition, so better make the best of it tonight

1919 Got a look at the northern coot family on the way in, and those parents still have all six surviving chicks with them

1920 Lots of feeding going on out at the swainson hawk nest. Those soon-to-fledge babies are pretty demanding. We just watched both parents bring fists full of food to the nest, one after the other. One of the hawklings had been sitting high up on a branch above calling to them, and it flew down - using its wings nicely - when dinner arrived

1922 We're able to recognize one of the darker-furred ksisskstaki now. This one, presently towing a long piece of rabbit willow into the north entrance, has almost black fur in a wide ring around its eyes. We're gonna call it the Bandit

1936 Took my usual quick walk to the south end of the pond, where most of the mallard families are feeding. There's a flicker pair eating bugs off the grassy bank here, and the abandoned gosling munching the grass itself. The gosling allows me to get very close as I pass

1946 Funny how you can visit a place time and time again, and still notice new aspects of it each time. On my walk back to our seats from the far south end, I suddenly noticed that the main ksisskstakioyis is situated such that it is the last thing on the water to get shadowed as the sun goes behind the coulee rim. Why else build beside the shallow shore of the wet meadows, where there is no bank to dig into?

1952 Rabbit willow goes in, old used clutter comes out. We just watched one of the ksisskstaki (unidentified) bring a mess of grass, reeds and mud out of the south entrance. It then dove down to gather a big scoop of mud in its arms, and walked this up to deposit on the lodge over the entrance

2009 Just before the ksisskstakioyis is covered with shadow, Lefty brings a sizeable old stick out of the lodge, drops it and swims to the subpond. Then two doves fly in, one then the other, to land on shore beside the lodge and just as quickly leave again. The coot parents with their single chick paddle by, heading north, followed by the orphaned coot chick, keeping about twenty meters distant, but making little pitiful chirps as it moves to stay with them

2015 Like clockwork now, here comes the scabby redhead with her two ducklings. And we're happy to see, hunting above the peninsula at the far south end, the caspian tern

2020 Two of the baby hawks move way out to the end of different branches near the nest. One of them practices spreading its wings several times and then suddenly flies up to the top of a tree about fifty meters away. The other hawkling then takes up the same position as its sibling had used and is currently practicing opening its wings. I think we're witnessing their first flight

2029 The second hawkling never left the nest, and seems to have given up on the idea for now. The first one out is still sitting high in the neighboring poplar. Lefty came home, the young spotted sandpiper came in to land briefly on the beaver lodge, and the mallard family with three ducklings were headed north before some people walking the path above thought to throw a rock in the pond, at which point the mallards moved into the grass of the wet meadow and walked stealthily back toward the south before re-entering the water

2040 Lefty and another ksisskstaki come out the north entrance and head off in that direction, swimming along the grassy bank for a ways before crossing to the wet meadows. The young sandpiper's pecking around on the fresh mud brought on top of the south entrance earlier this evening. And the mallard family with three ducklings are dunking loudly to feed in the middle of the water in front of the subpond canal

2044 Just behind me there's suddenly a loud buzz, making both Piipiiaakii and I jump and turn. Out of the grass came a pair of mating dragonflies, probably variable darners (judging by their size). They flew off noisily across the pond coupled together

2057 The big brood mallard has arrived now, passing by the other family and presently feeding just south of the ksisskstakioyis. Its been a busy night here at the pond, and now it's getting dark

2112 As we walk back to the truck, a pelican is flying upriver and one of the parent hawks returns to the nest. The hawkling who'd flown up into the neighboring tree hasn't mustered the courage to fly back over to the nest to partake of whatever the parent brought home. Instead, it cries and cries from its somewhat distant perch

Lesser Scaup Broods

IIII ) lllllllllllllllll Lesser Scaup Broods (10Aug09)

0829 Surveying the canal this morning. Aomaohksikimi is in flower

0901 All the geese along the canal nested and fledged early, and while some of the ducks were going on about the same schedule as those at the pond, I've seen several late mallard broods this morning. The most recent hatchlings are the lesser scaups, who couldn't be more than a week or two out of the egg

0919 The entire canal route from BTAP up past Mookoan Reservoir to the 509 is lined with waist-high white sweetclover, gumweed and cone-flowers. Couple good patches of niistsiikapa's too, and I was surprised to see a yellow-headed blackbird still lingering around

1950 Overslept and only just got to our seats on the grassy bank of Sspopiikimi. Already the sun is far below the coulee rim, so that the landscape here is cast in shadow. It feels quiet. And for the gosling, sitting alone again on its natal island, it must be lonely here as well

2015 Four ksisskstakiiksi have left the lodge in the short time we've been sitting here - three heading to the subpond (where minutes ago we heard a splash), and the other one moving toward the wet meadows north

2033 The ksisskstaki who'd gone north has now returned to the lodge empty-handed. While it was gone, a kingbird landed on the lodge perch and, as yesterday, feasted on a dragonfly

2038 A mallard mother with her brood of three is feeding beside the ksisskstakioyis, having paddled in from the south end of the pond. The gosling left its island and has swum shallow switchbacks all the way to the far north end, head out-stretched, and occasionally honking. It's looking for its missing family

2047 A muskrat kit just came out of the ksisskstakioyis, swam straight across the pond toward us, and dove into the bank-burrow below our seats. Immediately after, an adult muskrat exited the burrow and headed north along the bank. I wonder if the presence of muskrat kits accounts for the few weeks that these animals were absent from view, because we had seen them mating shortly before they disappeared

2051 Talking about the muskrats with Piipiiaakii, she reminds me that when we last saw them before the disappearance, they'd often be carrying bulrush and cattail stalks into the dens. Perhaps they were stock-piling food to eat while tending to nests of babies

2058 I catch a glimmer of white above the reeds, far back in the wet meadows behind the subpond. It's a white-tail deer, and moments later it walks into view and enters the forest. As it vanishes into the darkness, the scabby redhead with her two nearly-adult ducklings swims quickly past. We for our part are ready to head home

10 August 2009

Abandoned Gosling

IIII ) llllllllllllllll Abandoned Gosling (9Aug09)

1818 Sspopiikimi - we come out a bit earlier today, owing to the fact that our daylight hours are decreasing. Just south of the ksisskstakioyis, in the middle of the water, there's a large section of pond-bottom exposed, greater in circumferance than any of the islands. We've seen it coming the past couple weeks, but only tonight has the water level decreased enough to expose earth

1825 On the milkweed beside our seat on the grassy bank, there is a red beetle with black spots, similarly colored as a lady-bug, but much longer of body. The baby swainsons across the way are starting to cry like adults, and we watch an unfamiliar pale hawk fly by their nest

1830 The first of the water mammals to make an appearance tonight is mi'sohpsski, swimming in along the opposite shore and entering the north door of the ksisskstakioyis

1837 There's some literature that describes muskrats who make their own burrows off the side of those going into beaver lodges. But when I mention this to Piipiiaakii, she notes that we've seen muskrats entering all three door of this ksisskstakioyis, and so it begs the question as to whether they're not merely guests of the ksisskstaki family

1840 There are mourning doves, kakkooyiksi, cooing from somewhere in the forest. Occasionally they will come down as individuals or in pairs, landing on the shallow bank that borders the wet meadow, beside the ksisskstakioyis. We haven't really been attentive to learn what it is they do there

1849 On the far south end of the pond, we see a white-tail deer walk down the embankment of the levy, toward the duck blind. It's too far away to see clearly, and soon it becomes concealed in brush. But if we're lucky, perhaps it will come visit the wet meadows this evening

1905 I take a little walk to the far south end, while Piipiiaakii stays back at the lodge. What I thought was exposed earth in the pond is not. Seen from above, it appears to be just a very thick patch of milfoil, with tops now taller than the surface

1910 I am saddened to find a single gosling entering the water from the bank that the whole family so often frequented. It paddles out and rests alone on its mother's old nest island. We've never seen the family members apart before, and when I report this to Piipiiaakii her suspicion is the same as mine - that this gosling was the one struggling most with its flying lessons, and that it has been left behind

1918 The first out of the lodge this evening is Lefty, who swims wide past us, heading north. Coot parents with one chick then arrive at the lodge. There is a second orphan chick following and crying behind them, but when it comes too close the parents attack and chase it away. It returns to follow again, but keeps a safe distance behind them

1922 While we watch Lefty and the coots, an eastern kingbird lands on the lodge perch with a mouth full of dragonfly, which it proceeds to bash on the wood before eating. And the juvenile spotted sandpiper comes to sit on top the lodge. It appears to be getting a little more chest coloration now

1934 Soon several members of the ksisskstaki family wake up and begin their evening forays, most heading for the subpond canal. A large painted turtle climbs up on top of the south entrance, perhaps scrambling to get out of the way of the beavers. It sits there just a few minutes, then re-enters the water. And all the while there's been a goldfinch flying above, just behind our seats, singing its four and five tone repetitive song

1946 Lefty has just returned from the north wet meadows with a sprig of rabbit willow, which gets pulled down into the lodge. Another ksisskstaki, as if aware of Lefty's approach, comes out the south entrance to observe the willow being brought. But once Lefty dives, this beaver also returns to the lodge

1954 Now there are several goldfinch in on the act, singing above the pond. One of the ksisskstakiiksi has been bringing old, chewed sticks out of the south entrance, dropping a couple at a time, and then returning to the lodge

2003 Two of the ksisskstaki who'd gone to the subpond just returned. Again their approach was proceeded by a family member coming out of the lodge to watch, and again one of those returning carried rabbit willow (this time a small bundle) which it brought into the lodge 2016 We decide to leave it at that for the evening, pack up and head out

09 August 2009

Night Heron

IIII ) lllllllllllll Muskrats Return (6Aug09)

1534 After three days absence, getting lonely for dusk at the pond

1921 Sspopiikimi - we're greeted at the trailhead to the pond by one of the sikohpoyitaipannikimmiksi, who's soaring and diving repeatedly into the tops of the poplars hunting what we can only imagine must be small birds

1929 There are no waterfowl midpond, or even in the southern reeds, though the gosling family is feeding up on the golf greens, and at least one of the ksisskstaki is up, hauling sprigs of rabbit willow to the lodge

1937 I hate to use insect repellant, but the mosquitoes are just vicious this evening, so Piipiiaakii and I take turns spraying each other down

1949 "Sspopiikimi" is our own made-up name for this place that's otherwise known as the Elizabeth Hall Wetlands. In Blackfoot, our name translates as "turtle waters". And just this moment, there happens to be a painted turtle poking its head up for a breath of air beside us. It was probably gazing at Dani, but then saw me and got scared. Now its ducked back under, lol

1955 It's strange to find a total absence of birds on the water, not even the scabby redhead, nor the coots have made an appearance. The kingfishers are out though, one of them perched just south of us, occasionally flying over the pond and chattering away

2008 Two of the ksisskstakiiksi come out of the lodge, watching us from across the water. They are too far away to see with any clarity at first. Then one paddles off to the subpond canal while the other, Lefty, comes near for a better take. He's not too welcoming tonight, swimming slowly up toward us, only to dive and slap his tail half-heartedly, then swim a good distance south before resurfacing to watch us

2017 Lefty seems to have become bored with the inspection, drifting toward the subpond. But just as he gets out of sight mi'sohpsski, the muskrat, comes our way along the shoreline. When eventually noticing us, it does one of the hardest dives we've seen a muskrat pull-off, nearly splashing us

2024 Finally we hear the clucking of one of the coots as it emerges from the midpond reeds. So they are here tonight after all. Is it just the overcast weather that's sent them into cover?

2031 It’s been a while since we've seen so much muskrat activity. A second one just followed a beaver into the ksisskstakioyis, while an older beaver, possibly one of the parents, swam past us along the shore. A second later, the muskrat re-emerges from the lodge and continues its route north

2037 A mama mallard with three ducklings has moved out of the bulrush tufts by the subpond canal, and crossed the pond to our side. Hopefully they'll come our way. Meanwhile, another muskrat is swimming our way from the south

2046 Now the big brood has moved out into the water from somewhere on the southwest bank, seemingly headed toward the same bulrush tufts the other mallard family recently vacated

2053 It's getting dark so much earlier now. The big brood is coming close to the ksisskstakioyis, just across the pond from us, but already it's too dark to see them well

IIII ) lllllllllllllll Night Heron (7Aug09)

0752 Some cool juvenile night-heron at Innokimi on the way to work

1950 Sspopiikimi - the ksisskstakiiksi and mi'sohpsskiiksi are already out and about. At the main lodge, we find the two orphaned coot chicks. They cringe every time there's a call from the swainson above, and quickly head toward the midpond reeds when we sit down

1955 On our walk in, we passed a pair of coot parents and the mother mallard with three ducklings, all feeding midpond. We also heard a new twitter and sourced it to a fledgling western kingbird. It was singing from a fencepost, while its sibling or parent returned the song from somewhere mid-way up a cottonwood tree

2006 While a number of the ksisskstakiiksi are moving around at a distance from us, one very dark-furred member of the family just swam leisurely past our feet. We've not named this one yet, because we haven't been able to note any mark to distinguish it from the other dark beavers

2011 The scabby redhead just passed by on her way north with both her surviving ducklings. The sunlight is just perfect, and it looks from their plumage as if the siblings are male and female

2019 Its turning out to be a very good evening at the pond. For the past ten minutes, we've been watching a caspian tern flying high over the water and diving for fish. This is only the second tern night we've had all season. Our visitor tonight seems to prefer hunting at either end of this long oxbow, rather than where we're sitting (toward the middle). But we can still watch its antics just fine from our position, and we've gotten some nice picks as it passes from end to end

2038 After the tern leaves, flying off upriver, the pond seems to become more quiet. The beavers and muskrats swim calmly about, going in and out of their lodges and burrows, and visiting different locations around the pond. There's a strange gathering of diving beetles just north of where we sit, but otherwise nothing we take much note of. Perhaps we're just not looking and listening closely enough to understand what the animals we're observing are doing. There's still big mystery for us in where the muskrats disappeared to all those weeks, and why now their sudden re-emergence

2100 Why do the kingfishers chatter as they do? One just flew over and landed on the beaver lodge perch. It chattered and seems to have been answered by another to the far south. The two of them sing back and forth, then I can hear one to the north as well, in the cottonwood trees

04 August 2009


IIII ) lllllllll Patches and Lefty (2Aug09)

1942 Sspopiikimi - arriving to what seems a quiet pond this evening, taking our now well-worn seats opposite the main ksisskstakioyis. We pass the scabby redhead and her two ducklings enroute, the sikohpoyitaipannikimm at its nest begins a lazy alarm call

1950 At the ksisskstakioyis, there is a coot conglomerate - two adults with a chick, and a third individual adult. As we take our seats, the latter swims north, while what is probably either the original southern or midpond coot family feigns a move south, then turns back, pick for food around the shore-edge near the lodge, then head north themselves. At least one of the parent coots is still acting hostile toward the baby, turning on it to try and chase it away, provoking it to cry

1952 When the small coot family reached about midpond, a second coot chick emerged from the grass near the ksisskstakioyis, where it had apparently been hiding. Finding itself alone, the chick begins to cry and search around, even climbing up onto the roof of the lodge for a better view. It then climbed down and made its way north in a roundabout circuit through the reeds near shore

2001 My guess is that this lone coot chick is the same we found bonded to the other single chick a few nights ago, the two being abandoned by their respective parents of the southern and midpond families. Meanwhile, the northern parents still remain close with their four surviving chicks

2003 While I frantically type-out my coot observations, ksisskstaki activity gets underway, beginning with a dark-furred member exiting the lodge and paddling toward the subpond canal. A few minutes later, the yearling with light under-eye patches comes out and swims casually over to visit us. When it goes back in the lodge, another older beaver (perhaps a two-year old) come out of the south entrance to eat

2014 The two-year old is followed out of the lodge by two more. One of them, very dark of fur, swims past us heading, it appears, toward the alfalfa patches along the grassy north shore. The other joins its lodgemate in eating, and soon the two begin to mutually groom, cleaning the fur on one another's flanks

2018 Soon another two ksisskstakiiksi appear as well. The yearling with light under-eyes (who we've decided to call Patches) swims north, followed by an older beaver with light eyebrows. The other two move toward the subpond canal, but one of them quickly turns back and re-enters the lodge

2026 Piipiiaakii thinks there may be a new building project going on in the subpond, which we haven't went to visit lately. The last ksisskstaki to swim in that direction made a stop-off on our shore to gather some plant material (possibly prickly rose), and towed this up the canal

2031 The darker-furred ksisskstaki who'd first swam north returned just now and is walking ashore to the wet meadows. It stands on its hind legs to sniff the air then, hearing our camera shutters, looks back at us and makes a run to the lodge. A couple minutes later it re-emerges, swims just a little ways south, and walks confidently into the wet meadows without stopping to sniff. It disappears in the grass for less than a minute, then comes back with a nice piece of rabbit willow, which it carries with it into the lodge

2043 Out of nowhere there's a flury of wings. Two mourning doves pass overhead, flying toward the forest, and the immature spotted sandpiper, which lands on the ksisskstakioyis and then runs south along the shoreline

2048 Another round of ksisskstaki activity. The one with the light eyebrow returns from the north, and the two from the subpond come back as well. At the same time, one of the family members who was in the lodge emerges and swims to the north. It first stops in the wet meadows, but then returns to the water and crosses to our side of the pond, likely going for some alfalfa

2055 While the two who were at the subpond groom by the south entrance, the light eyebrow ksisskstaki swims switchbacks in front of us. We can see that only its left eyebrow is light, and so Piipiiaakii suggests we call it Lefty

2058 The goslings have come down to rest on their island. After fully inspecting us, Lefty swam toward the subpond and was followed by one of the groomers and another dark-furred family member who'd just returned from the north end. The other groomer remained at the lodge for a few minutes, rubbing its ears near the north entrance, then swam off in that direction, toward the grassy shore

2104 Now we're watching the simultaneous return of two ksisskstakiiksi, one from the subpond bearing a small piece of diamond willow, and Patches from the north wet meadows carrying a switch of rabbit willow. The two ksisskstakiiksi proceed to eat their fare near the entrances on either side of the lodge

2109 The one with the diamond willow finishes first and heads immediately back out toward the subpond. Patches still works on the rabbit willow. And now one of the nighthawks is flying high above, repeating its throaty, single call

2114 The almost-full moon is climbing. Already our equipment is getting damp with dew. We decide it's time to pack up and head home

IIII ) llllllllll Subpond (3Aug09)

1356 Sspopiikimi - all morning long, my thoughts kept returning to the subpond mystery. Why were the ksisskstakiiksi heard splashing in that area a few nights ago? And what to make of yesterday's observation of the one who hauled vegetation from the west bank up the subpond canal? Were they building something there? I had to come find out

1411 I might have come out earlier, when it was completely overcast and misting. Now the clouds had broken and the sun's shining hot. Still, there's a cool breeze, so it's fairly comfortable

1414 Arriving, I set out counter-sunwise to get around to the subpond. The distance would be about the same if I walked sunwise, but going the way I have allows me a better view of the pond for survey on my way in

1419 There's a few people here today. Two young photographers, an older gentleman with binoculars who's watching the ducks and taking notes, and a round middle-aged man who just seems to be out for a walk

1420 I'm surprised to find no waterfowl midpond, not even the redhead. But as I pass by the opening of the subpond canal, I see the southern coot parents still with their one chick (who'd reconnected last night). The big brood mallard and her four ducklings are dabling in the reeds nearby, the gosling family are resting on their island, there's a trio of mallard females grooming on a neighboring island, and the painted turtles are out on their logs, basking in the sun

1425 Passing the berry thickets, I hear and see the usual waxwings and catbirds. Then, just beyond that area, on the levy-walk leading to the east side of the pond, I notice a new infestation of black blister beetles feeding on several varieties of plant - goldenrod, alfalfa, and the small yellow asters

1432 The beetles are very localized, both feeding and mating in an area of maybe two meters diameter. I don't see any other infestations the rest of the way across the walk

1501 Arriving at the subpond, I find nothing as unexpected as I'd imagined. The construction going on here's merely the continuation of a canal project we'd seen earlier in the season. The walls are much higher now, and becoming grown-over with plants everywhere except those areas that have been recently plastered. About half of what was shallow subpond has now been taken-up by this creation of deeper, winding avenues

1520 The swainson parents were none too pleased at my presence by the subpond, so near their nest. As I took pictures of the canals that I could instant message to Piipiiaakii back home, the two hawks took turns screaming and swooping at me. If it wasn't for the kingbirds mobbing them in return, I may have had a too-close encounter

1525 I decide to get myself under the cover of forest, and do so by taking a well-worn, yet dry beaver canal. It led out of the subpond and its walls were grown-over with tall licorice plants that concealed all but my upper torso. In this trench, it would've been a cinch to duck down and avoid a hawk swoop. This canal took me to the treeline, right at a couple bulberry bushes, which are already filling up with red berries

1541 Walking back to the truck, I focus on insects, and take pictures of several species – European skippers, cherry-faced meadowhawks, red-winged clickhoppers, and wood ants among them

1846 Sspopiikimi - could be short-lived tonight. A lightning storm's closing in from the northwest. For now, we sit before the main ksisskstakioyis. The only waterfowl in sight, two coot fledglings. We figure it's those of the south and midpond families, reunited

1859 One of the ksisskstakiiksi just swam out of the subpond canal with a sprig of rabbit willow, which it carried into the lodge. A couple mourning doves flew in and landed on shore near the lodge. And the thunder and lightning move ever closer

1917 It's become too scary, the fingers of lightning striking the earth and the ominous rumble of thunder. We pack up and return to the truck. On the way, we encounter the gosling family coming down out of the absynthe field. This is the second time we've found them there in under a week. It's quite a distance from their normal feeding grounds on the south banks and wet meadows