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