Spring is Here!
This Nature Walk edition continues from #4.1 - Arthopods.
I've broken this post up into four parts due to the large number of images:
The images are highly compressed for bandwidth's sake, but you can click on the images for larger versions (and a few are much deserving of an extra click).
As always feel free to give me any species identifications where I have failed to do so or done so incorrectly.
Other than all the other scurrying, fluttering, swimming, and pulsing critters of the world, birds are my favorite.
I've managed to snap quite a few good bird images over the past few days (though more eluded me, such as the dastardly killdeer that continually thwarted my focusing attempts). Here are some of them.
First, the Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis). This bird was hanging out over by the Environmental Protection Agency (near the NIEHS). It was quite a distant shot, but turned out pretty well, considering. I am rarely able to get close enough to bluebirds around here. They're just so skittish.
This next is my favorite bluebird image ever. Today I just happened to walk by this birdhouse nestled in in the woods at the treeline (the NIEHS campus is covered with them), and I saw this single eye staring out at me. Priceless!
And the cutest thing I've seen this spring: a Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) mother with eleven ducklings.
And to top it off, I even have some video:
As I've mentioned before, one of the great things about the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (and the EPA) is the large lake in the middle of campus. We are a stopping ground for all sorts of migratory water fowl, with several species appearing and dissappearing throughout the year. (see the ruddy ducks from a previous Nature Walk)
One bird that I've seen alot of this year is the Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus).
Of course, our campus is infamous for the gazillion Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) that stalk the grounds. Right now the females are mostly nested, with the males hovering nearby - both ready to start a hissy fit (literally) if you get near the nests.
To truly appreciate their menacing display (more hiss than bite) you must see the video:
Don't worry - this goose was not overly stressed by me. They nest about 3 feet from the walking trail. This female makes this display probably about a hundred times per day as each jogger strolls by. It's quite hilarious actually. One has to admire their ability to keep up the front (I know of quite a few people who find them dangerous and terrifying - trust me, they are neither once you've figured out their game. It's the same as a defensive opossum: open your mouth and hiss alot - that's it).
Back at the homestead, I captured another priceless avian expression: an American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) suddenly noticing that I had snuck up behind the feeder.
Nearby, a White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) skittered up the huge poplar tree in my front yard:
A Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) perched as well.
Finally, I managed to capture a far away American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) scoping the farmland below for tasty treats. I grew up calling these "Sparrow Hawks," which is apparently a common misnomer - they are actually falcons (not hawks).
Who says the dinosaurs went extinct?
See the rest of this Nature Walk: