26 March 2011

Wigeons And Killdeer

IIII ) llllllllllllllllll Wigeons And Killdeer (25Mar11)

1303 Sspopiikimi - grateful that we've managed to get out here again, for another afternoon before our two week absence. The pond, though still iced-over, is full of aapsspini couples, spaced out in territorial claims. And walking in, we pass dozens of tree sparrows, singing away from concealed positions on the ground beneath thick absinthe

1335 It's a fairly even split between aapsspiniiksi north and south of the ksisskstakioyis - twelve in the former, thirteen in the latter. The oddball is hanging around two of the couples by the entrance of the subpond canal. As we walk the shale trail, we can hear flickers giving staccato calls from the forest main, and somewhere overhead single shrieks that remind me of a killdeer

1356 With most of the snow melted, and just very light flakes falling at present, much of the subnivian vole networks have been exposed - a great labyrinth of tunnels, bedding areas, and waste chambers. It does seem they try to keep all their droppings isolated in hollows, cleared of grass for this purpose

1401 We drop down to explore and survey the owl wood. As we walk through, I'm sure now that I can hear killdeer out at the river, in addition to more geese. Oddly enough, no sign of the small male kakanottsstooki, though we search the trees pretty thoroughly. This is the second week in a row he's been absent, so it seems likely he's moved, perhaps to nest, elsewhere

1420 Mahoney sits down on a log in the owl wood to rest, while I continue on to check out the river. As I'm leaving, there's a magpie giving double calls at Mahoney, and she told me afterward that it continued to do so as she rested, and then while she searched nearby logs for beetle larvae. Meanwhile, I confirm, the killdeer have returned. There are several of them on the ice. There are also seven pairs of aapsspini claiming the anchors of the high level bridge, several more couples on the ice downstream and, when Mahoney comes to meet me we begin hearing wigeons. There's a cluster of then downriver, near the opposite shore

1436 They are five American wigeons - three drakes, two hens, and they're following a mallard couple. Seems to me their arrival is a bit earlier than normal. I've never seen them here with the water still so iced-over as it is. In fact, this is the first I've ever seen them on the Oldman, owing no doubt to the lack of open water at the pond

1451 Walking down to look at the wigeons, as best I can from across the river, I find there are also four goldeneyes down here. They spot me right away and take wing. I then climb back up the levee to join Mahoney, and we drop down the other side into the forest main for our hike back to north-pond. Save for a couple flickers, the forest is quiet today. We don't even encounter the starlings, so I figure they must be arriving in the evenings to roost

1504 Back at north pond, we take a few minutes to look from the cutbank out over the big river island. Only three pairs of aapsspini there who we can see, but no doubt by the time we get back here again, two weeks out, they'll be caching eggs