14 September 2009

First Rattler

IIII ) llllllllllllllll First Rattler (7Sept09)

1101 Three days of somewhat chilly winds, I think it's time to go check on my slithering friends

1432 First attempt to film a tutorial for the virtual classroom was foiled by computer problems. I'll get back to it tonight. In the mean time, I'm off to the coulees to film part of the intro lecture and check on my scaley friends

1457 Just released "Bernard" - the somewhat poisonous funnel weaving hobo spider - to his new coulee home. Don't cry nemesis, you'll always have the memories

1552 First rattler has returned to the hibernaculum - it is a dark brown yearling, obviously jumping the gun (as none of his elders have come home yet). But this is the start. Giv'er a couple weeks and I bet the whole extended family'll be slithering in. Anyway, I'll post this cute baby's pic tonight

1711 Sspopiikimi - filming a bit for the introductory online phenology lecture. Arriving midpond, there are twenty-nine mi'ksikatsiiksi and seven aiksikksksisiiksi, all intermingled in delicate friendship (again we're seeing a few instances where mallard couples or small groups give chase to others)

1718 Lots of cherry-faced meadowhawks still out, often landing right on the path. There's also a few clouded sulphurs

1748 Twenty-four mallards in the southern pool, most of them resting or preening on the islands

1922 Thanks Nemesis. Before you brought "Bernard" over, we weren't really paying much attention to the funnel spiders. Now we're seeing their webs all over at the pond

IIII ) lllllllllllllllllll New Mudworks (10Sept09)

0901 Off to the coulees to retape the intro lecture, do a bit of research, and perhaps visit my slithering friends

0931 Sspopiikimi - Just setting up to do some filming, waiting for the lawnmower on the neighboring golf course to go away. Since our last visit, the city has seen to mowing a meter-wide strip along the sides of the path, leaving partially mulched clickhoppers in the wake, food now to ants and beetles

0936 Midpond there's the usual mallard and coot conglomerate. Many of the mallards are feeding and moving around as individuals today, rather than pairs, but the coots are all bunched-up

1949 Sspopiikimi - the coulees are already completely shadowed, the sun already setting, and there's a damp but fresh chill in the air as all the plants exhail the day's oxygen production

1957 Midpond, most of the mallards are conspicuously paired and feeding, while three beavers and a muskrat swim purposefully north toward the shore lodge. A second muskrat sits atop the water, loosely supported by the exposed tops of milfoil, munching perhaps on the same

2005 The hemp is decidedly more yellow now than the surrounding reeds and grasses of the wet meadows, and the cottonwoods are not far behind, each tree bearing a gold branch or two already

2011 At the main ksisskstakioyis, it's aparent that new mud-works have begun in maintenance of the north side of the lodge, the south entrance having been taken care of earlier in the season. While we stand across from the lodge, one of the residents goes ashore into the wet meadows to collect some non-woody plant material (grass? mint?) and bring it back home

2025 Sitting on the back above the oddly duck-absent broad south pool, where we catch glimpses of beaver and muskrat activity in the darkness, a large flock of geese passes overhead. This makes me curious as to whether they've already established their some communal roost sites along the river where they'll pass the winter nights

2038 There's mallard chatter coming from the subpond, and at one point we hear the drawn-out cry of a killdeer somewhere below. It's fairly dark now. Two mainlodge beavers swimming to the southernmost bulrush stands are barely discernable as small, moving islands of darkness on the grey reflective pond-surface

2108 Walking out, we encounter a beaver beside the trail. I get the night-vision video camera out, but when I look back it's gone, vanished into a meadow. Our eyes try to adjust, to search it out in the darkness, but the orange glare of distant overpass lights keep us out of focus, and we eventually just move on

IIII ) llllllllllllllllllll Geese At Innokimi (11Sept09)

0852 Surveying the BTAP canal on the way to Mi'kai'sto this morning

0908 Driving the canal toward the hidden part of Innokimi we encounter solitary female mallards, redheads, and goldeneyes. The mallard picking off plants on shore (perhaps insects?). After these ducks we find a harrier sitting on the levy slopes, where I suspect she's gathering grasshoppers

0924 No big flocks in the lake yet, but in the canal above we pass by a juvenile black-capped night-heron, and a couple more mallards picking off shore plants. A coyote darts out and runs in front of the truck for a distance before cutting down to elude us in the sweetclover that lines the canal

0930 Many savannah sparrows still, no doubt feasting on all the insects that abound in the white sweetclover. We come across a few more mallards, these ones sitting on shore. One of them makes a concealed run through the grass rather then flying away

0942 Next to appear are the horned larks, both on the road and fenceposts, along with three whitetail does feeding on cut alfalfa. The deer break into a run, one of them (perhaps the mother) splitting off to cross our path and lead our attention in the opposite direction of the others

1000 There's a sizeable flock of aapsspiniiksi at Mookoan Reservoir, numbering at least a few hundred. When I walked out on the bank to photograph them, I noticed a solitary common loon. It dove and surfaced again only after swimming half the width of the lake

1017 The rest of the canal to the 509 is predominately sweetclover and horned larks. We did encounter two more whitetail does just before hitting the highway

IIII ) lllllllllllllllllllll Duck Watch (12Sept09)

1807 Sspopiikimi - winding down after a difficult day. Dani and I are sitting midpond, with mi'ksikatsiiksi off to either side of us, and a flock of nineteen aapsspiniiksi just now passing on their way downriver

1811 The golden coloration of the hemp patches on the wet meadows is so striking now, it seems to turn more every day. And the narrow-leaf bur-reed is on its way to doing the same

1831 We pick up and move about fifty meters south, where the main duck conglomerate are. Here we count twenty-eight mi'ksikatsiiksi, three aiksikksksisiiksi, and the scabby redhead family, all feeding in proximity of one another

1835 The feeding techniques of the three duck species are quite different. While the mallards merely turn on-end, rump in the air, the pull at what's beneath them, the redheads prefer shallow dives. The coots' method is something in between. Their prefered method seems to be to swim along until spotting something as they pass, making a back-glance and then diving for it. Yet, they might also set themselves in one spot, diving or dunking, depending on how far down the plant material is that they're after

1846 Some kind of shorebird flies over the pond, singing a repetitive call. It is too high up and fast for us to get a visual identification, but from its call our bet is that it's a short-billed dowitcher

1854 Just north of the large bullberry patch on the wet meadows, at the forest's edge, there are two whitetail doe grazing. Somewhere in that same direction, I can hear the chatter of a kingfisher in flight

1913 There's a mallard communication I don't understand. One solitary duck from the far north end begins swimming south in the middle of the pond. Then one from a group of four in front of us makes that quacking laugh and begins swimming north toward the approaching duck. Before they actually meet, the one that had been in front of us gives the quacking laugh call twice more. When they come together, they slowly pass one another, and the one who had been in the north leads the other one back

1922 At some point we didn't notice, a change occurred in the movement of both the mallards and redheads. When the ducklings were young, the mothers tended to follow, while they fed in a wide arch in front. Now, when I see three and four-member family units, the mother tends to be leading the sub-adults through the pond

1930 One of the mainlodge ksisskstakiiksi swims along a trench off the east shore until it is directly in front of us. There, it stops to eat water milfoil

1938 A second mainlodger swims the same route, past its feasting kin, and continues far to the north end of the pond. A few minutes later, the first beaver follows. They swim so far north, I lose track of them. They're definitely crossing into shorelodge territory, and it makes me wonder if that family has now moved away

1943 Just before we stand-up to depart, mi'sohpsski makes an appearance, floating on top the milfoil growth off our side of the shore. The mosquitoes are still out, but they're far more tolerable than they were a few weeks ago