My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

My Week…Perfect Weather

The My Week series of posts is a daily running journal that I do on the walks that I take daily around the apartment complex where I live. I’m located just south of the second largest city in Michigan, Grand Rapids, in the southwest part of the state. It was inspired in part by the phenology project done by Rebecca on her blog, Rebecca in the Woods.

Here you will find my thoughts about the wildlife that share this area, and maybe my thoughts on a news item I have read that pertains to nature or the environment. You can click on any of the photos to get a larger view of them.

This post covers the week from May 13 to May 19, 2012

Sunday

What a day! I filled the SD card of my Nikon in a lap and a half around here, over 350 photos to sort through. I did cheat though, I took most of the photos will sitting at the back pond. I am going to do a separate post on that which I will give the incredibly creative name of “Sunday at the pond“.

To begin, it was another absolutely wonderful spring day here, I don’t think that saw a single wisp of cloud the entire day. I started off wearing jeans and a T-shirt, as I got started a bit later than I would have liked. That’s the reason I didn’t go chasing eagles and kestrels over in Muskegon, I slept in too late.

First up, a few photos of the rhododendrons blooming here.

Rhododendrons

Rhododendrons

Rhododendrons

And I don’t know why, but I really like this one that I took of pine cones and the bright blue skies coming through the gaps between the green boughs of the evergreens.

Spring

I spent a considerable amount of time chasing some small birds through the trees and bushes out front. They were really make me work, and use all the skill that I have, which I guess isn’t that great, since this is the best that I could do.

Unidentified flycatcher?

I believe that’s a flycatcher of some type, but I haven’t had a chance to look it up yet. I really need to pick up a bird guide one of these days, hard to believe, but there are so many “new” species that are increasing in number to the point that I am seeing them for the first time, and because what I gather from checking online, some species have been renamed.

There were other small birds in the area, but the photos I took of them were so bad that I couldn’t use them to help me ID the birds, so I deleted those pics.

Here’s one I will never delete! I heard the song of a rose breasted grosbeak, looked up, and saw that he was flying as he was singing. In one of those rare instances where both I and the camera did what we were supposed to, I got this.

Rose breasted grosbeak in flight

I was doing my happy dance, let me tell you! All those “bad action shot of the day” shots that I take sure paid off for me this time. Best of all, I have several others that are almost this good.

Then, I spent quite a bit more time chasing a pair of cardinals through a tree. Neither of them would pose pretty for me, so I had to take what I could get.

Male northern cardinal

Female northern cardinal

At the long back pond, there were four geese and a number of mallards all playing nice with each other. Why is it that one day they’ll be trying to kill each other over one of the ponds, then, they’ll be feeding together in the same pond a few days later?

Speaking of trying to kill one another, here’s two photos of eastern kingbirds going at each other in mid-air.

Eastern kingbirds in flight and fight

Eastern kingbirds in flight and fight

And while those two were going at it, the warbling vireo decided to begin singing.

Warbling vireo

I was having better luck spotting the small birds today, there was hardly any wind to speak of. I find it easier to spot birds in light winds as almost any motion that I see is from the birds causing leaves and/or branches to move, and it’s not the wind doing it.

No wind also makes it easier to get flower pictures.

Iris in bloom

And, butterfly photos.

Unidentified butterfly

Unidentified butterfly

That was about it for lap one. I stopped at my apartment and took a short break, and also changed from jeans to shorts, as it had gotten warm out there during the first lap.

My second lap started much like the first, I shot this butterfly that I haven’t looked up yet.

Unidentified butterfly

I have a few other photos, that I’m not going to post. The weather is predicted to be very nice all week, and even though I am going to do a separate post about the pond with plenty of pictures, I’m sure I’ll be getting more this week.

On lap two, I made it as far as the back pond.

Painted turtle

I don’t know if that was a female looking for a place to lay her eggs, or why the turtle was in the parking lot next to the pond, but it was, so there you see what happens when I see a turtle. Or, a kingfisher.

Belted kingfisher flying past mallards

Great blue heron

Seeing the heron, I decided to go around the pond and get to a spot where the lighting would be better. I sat down and started shooting, and shooting, and shooting, until my camera told me it was full.

Back to my apartment I went, I thought about just switching SD cards, but I was too anxious to see what I had gotten, so I did the download then.

After sorting through those photos, I took off to finish my lap. By then, the sunlight was fading, and it was beginning to cool down again. I was deep in thought about what had happened at the pond, and I had already filled the SD card once today, I didn’t want to get greedy and try to take even more photos. Besides, the first time I turned the Nikon on, it told me the battery was dead. Yeah. I never got a low battery display at the pond, it must be that the download to the computer killed the battery. That brings up a point I have been thinking about for some time now.

Both of my cameras do the same thing as far as battery life warnings. When you see the warning that the battery is getting low, it’s too late, the battery is about dead. I’ve seen in some product reviews that I am not the only one who believes that the manufacturers could do a much better job of displaying the life left in the battery.

With my Canon, I can slip in another pair of AA batteries and keep shooting, not with the Nikon which takes a special battery. I suppose I should pick up a spare battery for it one of these days. Maybe that’s why the manufacturers program the low battery display the way that they do, so that you will have your battery go dead on you, and you’ll buy a spare to prevent that from happening again.

Anyway, Not a lot happened until I got to the long back pond. This is going to be another mallard story, so if you’re bored with all my mallard stories, you can skip ahead. As for me, the more I watch them, the more they fascinate me.

As I was walking toward the pond, I see a pair of mallards slithering through the grass staying as low as they possibly could. OK, now what are those silly birds up to? Suddenly, they both flattened themselves down in the grass and disappeared.

A pair of mallards hiding in the grass

Believe me, there’s two mallards in the grass next to that sign. They were hiding, but from what?

I was looking around trying to spot the predator that had the mallards acting so scared, it turned out that the predator was another male mallard. He splashed down in the pond and set out hunting the pair hiding in the grass.

Male mallard hunting the pair hiding in the grass

Sorry about that photo, I forgot about the shutter lag that the Canon has. It looked like the jealous husband looking for his unfaithful wife and her lover.

The pair stayed hidden.

A pair of mallards hiding in the grass

I started to walk away, but for some reason, the female bolted. The male looking for them came after the pair full tilt, and that’s when I wished that the Nikon had been operational. I was trying to photograph the fight by looking at the screen of the Canon, but I couldn’t see what was going on. I heard bodies hit, saw feathers fly, and the three of them took off for other parts of the country, the female in the lead with her two suitors following her.

Mallards sure do make things interesting around here.

The only other thing of note from this lap, the white rabbit!

White rabbit

Maybe I should call it the grey rabbit, as it has to be quite old for a cottontail. It’s been around here for a couple of years now, and it was fully grown when I saw it the first time. There for a while I felt like Alice in Wonderland, chasing the white rabbit around, and never getting a good photo of it. All of a sudden this spring, it poses for me.

That’s about all from today, and what a day it has been. If Monday is anything like today was, I may have to call in sick to work for the very first time in three years.

Monday

Another fine spring day in West Michigan, it doesn’t get much better than this. After a cool night, it warmed quickly, and there was very little breeze again today. I was hoping to spot a few songbirds, but the impenetrable green wall has filled in almost completely.

What I mean by “impenetrable green wall” is that the foliage begins at ground level and goes all the way up to the top of the larger trees here. There are a few small gaps in the leaves, but on a sunny day like today, it is like looking into a room at night with the lights turned off. My eyes don’t adjust to the dim light quickly enough for me to see very much back in the woods. I have been trying to locate birds by sound, that works for the males when they are singing, but unless the females are moving around, it’s hard to spot them.

And that’s another thing, how do brightly colored birds like orioles and tanagers manage to hide so well in a sea of green. You’d think that they would stick out like a sore thumb.

But, back to the green wall, that’s one reason we have so many varied species of birds around here. There’s a little bit of every type of habitat, from the stands of large hardwoods left from before they built this place, to the evergreens that they planted here after it was built, to open grassland, both lawn and almost like prairie. There are creeks and ponds for water and waterfowl, and the green wall provides a lot of cover for all species.

Not many birds today, mostly insects, none of which I can identify. I’ll get to those photos in a minute. First, another goose fight story.

I got to the long back pond, and there were more geese there than I have seen together in some time. There were four on shore near the center of the pond, and at the time I couldn’t tell how many, but there were more under the weeping willows on the west end of the pond. I thought that it was strange with those geese suddenly sharing the pond that they had been fighting over before, but they seemed to be. Seemed is the keyword here.

One of the geese from under the willows, which I later identified as Father Goose, whose mate had nested at that pond, and began honking and taking an aggressive posture. That only lasted a few moments, then Father Goose went back to his family, hidden in the willows. There was a lone male mallard between the two groups of geese, and he was looking mighty nervous. His head was swivelling back and forth between the two groups even more than mine was. I guess he didn’t want to get caught in the middle of a goose fight.

I should have taken a cue from the mallard and stayed where I was at, but I circled around until I could see under the willows, and saw that there were two families of geese there, four adults, and nine goslings. OK, I’ve got lots of goose and gosling photos, nothing to shoot there, so I headed for the far end of the pond.

I was about to walk away from there, when Father Goose decided to clean house and rid his pond of all the other geese but the other family. One of the other ganders made the mistake of trying to take on Father Goose in a head to head fight. That did not work out well for the other gander, and it took off across the pond with Father Goose in hot pursuit. Father Goose caught him and body slammed the other gander into the water, pounced on its back, and proceeded to wail the crap out of the other gander with his wings and bill. The other gander was finally able to escape Father Goose, but the last gander wasn’t so lucky.

With one foe soundly defeated, Father Goose turned his attention to that last gander, who tried to escape on land. Father Goose caught him, body slammed it to the ground, and wailed on that one until it played possum. I thought that Father Goose had injured it for a minute or so, even when Father Goose relented and ceased his attack, that last gander just laid there not moving at all for several minutes.

When it did finally move, it ran off between some buildings, and never came back. Its mate saw that and began to follow him, also on foot. Father Goose let her pass, but not without letting her know that they were not welcome there.

There’s just so much about all this to try to understand, why some geese are welcome and others aren’t. The personalities of the individual geese, how aggressive Father Goose can be at times, contrasted with how meek the gander at the center pond is in defending his territory, and on it goes. And who knew that geese will play possum when they have lost a fight?

And yes, I took more photos, but they aren’t very good since they were taken from all the way across the pond, and looking into the sun, so I’m not going to bore you all with more geese fighting photos, unless I get some really good ones. 😉

It’s now Tuesday, I’m behind again. I have a few other photos from yesterday as well, I think that I’ll throw them in with any I get today, as they are flower and butterfly pictures.

Tuesday

Another picture perfect spring morning, clouds are predicted to move in later, so I’m moving outside before the clouds get here.

No clouds, just brilliant blue skies, perfect for the photo challenge this week, which just happens to be “Blue”. I spent quite a bit of time collecting photos for the challenge, which I hope to post tonight or tomorrow.

I hate to sound like I’m rubbing it in, but there are too many things to try to photograph around here, and so many stories to tell. Not big stories for the most part, but little ones. For example, there is a trucking company on the south side of the apartment complex. There’s a story in itself, why are zoning laws written as they are so that a trucking company with all the noise and all sits right next to an apartment complex. But that’s not the subject of this little story, what is, is the way that they have done the landscaping at the trucking company. The front is lawn, as you may expect, but the sides and back have been planted with various flowers, native and non-native, and just allowed to grow. To me, it is absolutely stunning.

Flowers

I have taken some of my best photos of flowers through their fence, I could easily do an entire post on their small “yard”, and I think that I will try one of these days. I will go in and ask if I can photograph their beautiful flowers so that I don’t have to try for what I can get through a chain link fence.

In another month, the flowers will really be blooming, they’re just getting started now. With the flowers, and the grasses, it is also a haven for small birds and animals. But it’s not a neatly manicured lawn, so there are probably many people who would say that it looks shabby. Argh! We really need to get over the love affair that we have in this country with the idea that the only acceptable landscaping is a few patches of flowers surrounded by a sea of fescue grass cut down to exactly 2.25 inches.

Some of the trucking companies flowers have escaped to our side of the fence, but, they don’t get a chance to really take off before they get hacked down. Argh! again!

Now, back to too many things to try to photograph. I saw several birds that I wanted to photograph, and did end up getting this one.

White-throated sparrow

What started it all was that I saw a brownish bird land in a sumac bush and didn’t pay much attention to it at first, assuming it was a robin, it wasn’t. It was a flicker, and I was closer to it than I have ever been to a flicker before, and I would have had a great shot, if I had been paying attention. Nope, it flew off before I came to my senses, but at least in looking for it, I found several other birds in the same thicket, the sparrow among them. I spent so much time chasing the sparrow that I forgot about the other birds.

And so it goes, I see the shadow of a bird go past me and assume that the shadow is being cast by a starling, robin, or one of the other very plentiful species of birds here. Then, I see from the shadow that the flight pattern isn’t the same as the common bird I assumed was throwing the shadow, look up, and see that I have missed a great shot of a Baltimore oriole or some other colorful bird in flight. There has to be over 100 each of the following species here, robins, goldfinches, starlings, English sparrows, and house finches. With all those birds flying around, it makes it hard to make note of every bird that I see, in fact, it is impossible to check out every bird I see flying, hopping, or even perched in a treetop.

At the long back pond, the Goose family and their friends were gone, the four geese that Father Goose beat the snot out of yesterday were back??????????

For my not so bad action shot of the day, I’ll throw in this one.

Canada goose in flight

And, it is almost time for me to fly as well, and it seems like I am just getting started. There was a news item about the way that the Michigan State Forest Campgrounds and trails are being reorganized that I wanted to get into, I touched on that once before, but the latest story I read had many more details about the reorganization, the price drops, and more. All I can say right now is that great management produces great results, or at least holds the promise of great results. Rodney Stokes and his staff at the DNR are working their rear ends off and our system of parks and campgrounds which was already one of the best in the nation is getting even better! More access at lower prices, plus, you’ll be able to make reservations at some of the busier State Forest Campgrounds soon. Even better, they are saying that they see no reason to close ANY of the campgrounds! Yahoo! That means that Round Lake State Forest Campground is safe for the foreseeable future!

On to Wednesday.

Wednesday

I forgot to mention the  weather other than the clear skies yesterday, warm and breezy. We received some rain overnight, now the brilliant blue skies are back, with just a slight breeze from the looks of things out my window.

I slept in late, too late. I stopped at the grocery store on my way home from a long night at work, made even longer by poor customer no customer service at the store. It worked great for them, I left without getting the issue resolved. That’s what I get for trying to avoid crowds, which I detest. Then, to make things even worse, when I did wake up, it was to no water, again.

When I did make it home last night, I noticed that the water had been shut off while I was at work by the blast of air out of every faucet when I turned them on. The water was off just long enough this morning for it to be an inconvenience. It’s on again now, but now I’m running even further behind than I was.

Time to get a move on!

As so often happens, when I was out for my walk today, I realized that I had forgotten write about something from a previous day. Yesterday, while I was tracking down photos for the Weekly Challenge, I stumbled across where many of the swallows and the pair of kingfishers are nesting. It’s an old pile of topsoil left over from when the condominiums to the southeast of here were built. The swallows and kingfishers have dug their nesting burrows in the face of the dirt pile. That explains why I would see the kingfishers perched near there, or circling the area, as I knew there was no water there. Maybe this weekend I’ll stake that area out and see if I can get a good photo of the swallows to get an exact identification of them, maybe even a great photo of one of the kingfishers.

Now then, for today. It was a bit cooler than yesterday, and the wind came up quite a bit during my walk, but it was still about as perfect of a day as one could ask for. It could be because of my very late start today, but there didn’t seem to be much going on around here. I say that, but that’s never really case, it more that I didn’t spot any new species, nor were there any great battles, just a little one.

Two male house finches fighting

Those two were engaged in one of the longest lasting aerial dogfights between house finches that I have seen. I snapped half a dozen photos, the auto-focus only picked them out of the trees for this one. I would say that’s my bad action shot for the day, but there’s this photo to take that honor.

Blue jay in flight

The Baltimore orioles were singing…

Male Baltimore oriole

..and singing.

Male Baltimore oriole

They are sticking towards the tops of the trees now, it’s going to be hard to get a good close-up of one for the time being. But I’ll keep on trying.

It is now Thursday at noon, I didn’t get a chance to work on this post or the Weekly Challenge last night after work, and I slept in later than I have in a very long time, so, on to Thursday.

Thursday

The beautiful weather continues! I considered taking a day off from my walks to work on this, but this kind of weather is all too rare! Bright blue skies, pleasant temperatures, it is too darn nice to sit inside and type, looking out the window wishing I was out there, not in here. So, off I go!

I’m sure glad that I didn’t sit inside, even if it means that I am even farther behind than I was before. For one thing, good shots of an eastern kingbird!

Eastern kingbird

Then, there was another of my they had me surrounded stories that unfolded. I saw a blue jay land fairly close to me, and began to go after it. But, I also noted a brownish bird off to my left, which turned out to be a flicker.

Northern flicker

Blue jay

And, as I was photographing those two, the place erupted in cardinals.

Male northern cardinal

Spoiling for a fight.

Male northern cardinal in flight during a fight

I missed the second one in that shot, but they both landed to face off with one another.

Male northern cardinals facing off

And, along came a fox squirrel to break up a good fight.

Male northern cardinal and fox squirrel

Fox squirrel ruining a good photo-op

So for my bad action shot of the day, one of the male cardinals flying away from the squirrel.

Male northern cardinal in flight

I also got a bad shot of the object of the male cardinal’s battle, but since I limit myself to one bad action shot of the day, I’m not going to post it. Oh, what the heck, here it is.

Female northern cardinal in flight

Those types of things happen everyday around here, the only difference this time is that I was able to spin around quickly enough to capture at least some record of most of what was going on. I did miss a few things, like goldfinches chasing each other through the scene, and probably half a dozen robins as well.

Later, I saw a shadow of a bird and could tell it was a swallow by its shadow, and that it had perched near to me, on the lamp-post I was standing next to in fact.

Barn swallow

It must be recharging its energy supply. 😉

At the back pond, I was able to get a couple of fairly good photos of a kingfisher in flight.

Belted kingfisher in flight

Belted kingfisher in flight

Belted kingfisher in flight

While I was there at the pond, I also got some really bad shots of swallows skimming insects off from the surface of the pond, that I’m not going to bore you with now. But, I think that I learned a great deal about the best way to get such a shot, we’ll see.

Since I’m behind, I’m going to call today’s entry done. I wish that I had more time, as always it seems, but too many critters doing too many interesting things. On to Friday.

Friday

The fabulous weather continues, although we could use some more rain. Maybe late this weekend. It’s been getting a little warmer each day, today, they are predicting a high near 80 degrees, with it getting even warmer this weekend. That’s getting too warm for my taste, so maybe this will be the weekend that I go to Muskegon to chase eagles and kestrels. It will be 10 degrees cooler at the lakeshore, plus, a partial solar eclipse on Sunday evening. That is, if the clouds from the approaching front predicted to move in don’t obscure it.

Anyway, time for breakfast, and another action packed day here at the apartment complex!

Call me crazy, but I swear that the critters read and respond to my blog. It wasn’t long ago that I noted that I wasn’t seeing the hawks as much lately, so they showed up in numbers today, making sure that I saw them.

I had just stepped onto the sidewalk when I heard a woodpecker drumming on a dead limb in the large cottonwood tree to the left of me. I was thinking of trying to track the woodpecker down, but I looked to the right first, and saw the brilliant white underside of a red-tailed hawk making a turn. Not only that, but the hawk had a flock of blackbirds on its tail. I pulled the camera up, but they all disappeared behind the trees before I could get a shot. I was a bit disappointed, but I shouldn’t have been, the hawk was leading its escorts closer to me for some better photos.

Red-tailed hawk being attacked by blackbirds

Red-tailed hawk being attacked by blackbirds

Red-tailed hawk being attacked by blackbirds

After making sure that I had enough shots to satisfy me, the hawk ditched the blackbirds, then came back for its close-ups.

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Then, to make sure that they got mentioned again for a change, the hawk went off to find its mate so that they could make a joint appearance.

Red-tailed hawks in flight

In fact, for the better part of today, at least one of the red-tailed hawks was in view. But, they weren’t the only birds to provide me with opportunities for bad action shots, so did a pair of swallows.

Swallow hovering

They thought that the dryer vent on the side of a building looked like a good place to nest. I hope that they don’t try it though. Also flying about was the eastern kingbird.

Eastern kingbird landing on a fence

And, a boattail grackle.

Boattail grackle in flight

I was getting tired from all the swiveling and twisting I was doing to keep up with the birds, I really wanted one to sit still for a second, so this cardinal helped me out.

Male northern cardinal

But, it was only there for a second or two before it flew off, the distractions around here are incredible!

Beautiful distraction

I’m sorry, I just had to throw that one in. The very nice young woman had spooked the cardinal off as she walked by us, then apologized for messing up my photo shoot. You know, I remember that there was a time when I chased very nice young women rather than birds, but with every passing year, I have a harder time remembering why I did.

We have a new spokes-model here at Byron Lakes, no, not the pretty blonde, a blue jay who posed on the sign.

Blue jay

Then, gave me yet another action shot for the day.

Blue jay in flight

At the long back pond, there was a flock of eight geese, all together, some resting, some eating, none of them fighting. I still haven’t figured that one out, especially in light of what happened today at the front pond. One day, they are practically killing each other, the next day, they’re all one big happy family again.

And, this is what happened at the front pond today. I saw a green heron fly to the pond, and land near the pair of geese there.

Green heron and Canada goose

Mr. Goose didn’t like that, and started towards the heron to let it know it wasn’t welcome at that pond.

Green heron and Canada goose

Green heron and Canada goose

The heron didn’t go far, I did. I circled the pond to get closer and to get better lighting, but it didn’t pan out how I had hoped.

Green heron taking off

I never got a close-up, or even a bad action shot of the heron. It’s the first time that I have seen a green heron this spring, they’ll be around till fall, lot’s of time left to get some better photos of them.

But, why do the geese chase away the herons, when the herons are no threat to them, nor competitors for food?

I see that I have been lax in adding photos of flowers, so here are a few that I have taken the last few days.

Flowering tree

Orange flowers

Iris blooming

Raspberry flower?

Yellow flowers from a cultivated bush

And now, I’m going to call today’s entry done, and move on to Saturday.

Saturday

The warm-up is beginning today, with high temperatures predicted to be in the mid-eighties. That’s much warmer than I like, so I’m going to take my time today, and enjoy myself. I will most likely do some sitting, as I am not feeling the greatest either. Some of it is from allergies, some, I have no idea, but it feels like a good day to relax.

So much for our perfect weather this week, it was hot, too hot, too darned hot! The official high was 87 degrees, but it felt like being in an oven out there, probably because it has been so pleasant up until today. I’m still trying to shake off the effects of the heat, and not having very much luck so far.

It was already very warm when I started out this morning, with very little in the way of a breeze. I thought that it would be a good day to photograph some of the flowers here, but for some reason, the blooms are already wilting on some of the bushes that just began to flower during the week. I was waiting for the bushes to get covered in flowers before taking photos, but as with most of the trees and bushes this year, waiting was a bad idea. I did get this though.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

You can see that the flowers this butterfly was feeding from don’t look very photogenic.

I went back past the back pond and staked out the area where the kingfishers have their nest. I did manage a few so-so photos of their coming and going.

Belted kingfisher in flight

Belted kingfisher in flight

Belted kingfisher

Look closely and you can see that they were bringing food back to their young.

Belted kingfisher in flight

Belted kingfisher in flight

I’m not completely happy with those photos, they should have been sharper. I shot this one of a goldfinch at about the same distance away as the route the kingfishers were taking to and from the tree that they always stopped at before entering their burrow.

American goldfinch in flight

A goldfinch is a fraction of the size of a kingfisher, if I could do that well on the goldfinch, it seems the kingfishers should have come out better.

Belted kingfisher

I suppose that I’ll have to try again one of these days. I don’t normally sit near where birds have nested, but it didn’t seem to bother the kingfishers that I was there. Their nest burrow is practically in some one’s backyard, and it was very interesting watching them come and go. They would arrive by doing a wide arc to the south of the nest, perch in one of two trees while they made sure the coast was clear, then fly to the nest. Then, they would land in a tree again, chatter away like crazy, then leave by doing a wide arc to the north of the nest.

Belted kingfisher in flight

I also got more shots of goldfinches in flight.

American goldfinch in flight

American goldfinch in flight

A blue jay searching for food.

Blue jay

Even the birds seemed to think that it was too hot today, I noticed a few of the robins seemed to be panting.

American robin

OK, I didn’t actually know that birds panted much like dogs do to stay cool, but I have often seen birds with their mouths open when it is very hot out. I just did a quick web search, and sure enough, birds do pant to help regulate their body temperature when the temperatures get too high for them.

Now I have a new weather saying, “Hot enough to make a bird pant”. That can be taken a step further by specifying which species is panting, because it seems different species of birds have different temperatures that they find oppressive. The robins were definitely feeling the heat, the goldfinches seemed to love it. They were everywhere today, I saw  close to a dozen of them at a time in some of the trees. I knew that there were a lot around here, but I didn’t have a clue as to how many there really are.

American goldfinch

I think that I could have filled my SD card with nothing but goldfinch shots if I had set out to do that.

But, back to the heat, and how birds react to the heat. Another thing that I see robins do when it is very hot is to flatten themselves down on a cool spot of ground.

American robin

I know, it’s a crummy shot, but as I was circling the robin to get a better shot of it, the robin flew off. I did see several of them doing that today. They’re not dusting, as the there wasn’t any dust where the robins were flattening themselves to the ground. I can only assume they spread themselves out like that to put more of their body’s surface area in contact with cooler earth.

The heat didn’t seem to be bothering the cedar waxwings either.

Cedar waxwing

Cedar waxwing

Cedar waxwing

I have a couple of other shots from today that I want to post, then, I’m going to bore you all with a short mallard story.

Iris in bloom

Some of those are from my second lap today. I really had to push myself to go back out into the heat, but I did. I wish I hadn’t, but I did.

Now the mallard story. I was headed toward the long back pond when I saw a half-hearted fight break out between two male mallards, over this female, I thought.

Female mallard

It wasn’t much of a fight as mallard fights go.

Male mallards fighting

The geese were unimpressed.

Canada goose

But, there were a couple of things that I found interesting. One was the amount of conversation taking place.

Female mallard

Mallards in a conversation

Mallards in a conversation

And the other thing that struck me is that the two males fighting took their tussle back on shore, near several other males that were resting there. One of those males waddled over to the two fighting, and said a few quacks to them, and the fight stopped. Not only that, but the two that had been fighting sat down and started grooming together. Not grooming each other, but both of them sat down right next to one another as they preened.

The female swam off by herself for a while, and when she returned, one of the males waddled over to her, and they had another little chat. They were in the shade then, and the photo isn’t very good, besides, how many photos do you need to see of ducks quacking?

OK, if the female was in heat, and it sure looked to me as if she was giving the guys the come hither look in the beginning, then why weren’t all the males after her? Or, for that matter, why didn’t any of the males take her up on her offer? And, what did the third male quack to the other two to end the fight so abruptly?  And how did they become best buddies so quickly after they had been chasing each other around the pond?

I know, they’re only mallards doing what mallards do, but why do they do the things that they do? They sure do fascinate the heck out of me, the more I watch and listen to them, the more that they fascinate me.

Well, my headache from the heat is almost gone, I still feel run down from it though. If I do anything outdoors tomorrow, it will be near Lake Michigan where it will be cooler.  I could go on about how wrong the weather forecast for this weekend was, but I won’t. I swear, the more hi-tech gadgets that meteorologists get, the more unreliable the forecasts become.

That’s it for this week, thanks to every one who stops by!

16 responses

  1. Anonymous

    Quiet Man – I thoroughly enjoyed your blog! So many things that I have seen, you have captured forever on film. Thanks for all your time in posting this. M 🙂

    May 20, 2012 at 9:08 am

    • Well, thank you very much M. If you who I think you are, I enjoy reading about your adventures as well.

      May 20, 2012 at 10:32 am

  2. It’s hot here too, so I can sympathize. That’s why I was out painting 200 feet of trim boards this morning at fist light, Now at 10:00 am it’s already too hot. July weather in May kind of makes you wonder what July will be like.
    Your pictures and story were excellent as usual and I enjoyed them. Good luck figuring out the mallards! They’re such funny birds-they always make me laugh. I wish I could find a spot around here where they gathered.

    May 20, 2012 at 10:01 am

    • Thank you! Not only do I dislike the heat, it makes me physically ill if I get too much too soon. I’m not sure why, other than I had scarlet fever as a child and nearly died from it.

      As for what this week’s hot weather portends for the summer ahead, not a lot. When we had the two hot days earlier this month, the local meteorologist said that they would be the only hot days this month, wrong. The weather will be what it is, much like cats and women, we have to take them as they come and deal with them the best we can. 😉

      May 20, 2012 at 10:41 am

  3. sandy

    Looks like you had a good week!

    May 20, 2012 at 11:16 am

    • Thank you Sandy!

      May 21, 2012 at 12:05 am

  4. I just wanted to say that you have some awesome photos of birds all the time. Even if I don’t comment on your post I noticed birds photo. I love them. Great work. I really enjoy them.
    Thank you.

    May 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    • Thank you very much Cornel, I have been lax as far as commenting on the wonderful photos that you post on your blog as well.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:05 am

  5. I like waxwings which rarely come here so I enjoyed your pictures very much.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:26 am

    • Sorry for the delay in replying, I’ve been busy chasing birds around. Thank you very much!

      May 24, 2012 at 2:36 pm

  6. Northern Narratives

    I love the photo of the rose breasted grosbeak in flight. That is awesome!

    May 21, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    • Thank you! That one seems to be more of a “hit” with photographers more than birders, which I don’t quite understand, but, as long as some one enjoyed it, I’m happy.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:38 pm

  7. Awesome week, Jerry! And what a variety!! So many great captures, the rose-breasted grosbeak flight shot is superb!

    May 21, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    • Thank you Donna, sorry for the delay in replying, been chasing birds around again all this week.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:40 pm

  8. plantsamazeme

    Another fun week at the ponds with your mallard buddies!
    Birds look so different when you capture them flying.
    The shot of the Rose-breasted Grosbeak shows all of its color, I’ve never seen that before.
    The “Iris in bloom” looks like a painting! Beautiful color!
    You are a great storyteller.
    🙂

    May 22, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    • Thank you! I’m just getting caught up with your posts that I wasn’t notified about for some reason, loving them all!

      May 24, 2012 at 2:41 pm