via: The Internet Archive
The usual residents on any pond are mallards, who I think are underappreciated for their beauty, both male and female, just because they are common. Makes me wonder if people who live in places with colourful parrot that make us ohh and ahh see them the same way as we do with out local wildlife.
Anyway, mallards also feature in the best known German children’s song: Alle meine Entchen (all my little ducks):
It’s a 150 years old and will probably last at least another 150 years: It features animals, is easy to sing and play and describes something even city kids may see and know.
We also got a pair of Egyptian geese at the pond. While originally coming from, you guess, Egypt, they are now pretty common around Europe. They can cause trouble in places where humans like to spread on laws they consider THEIR lawns, but are for the rest harmless.
I had this visitor a few weeks ago, but the light was bad and I was unable to identify the species. Luckily my biologist friend was able to forward it to an ornithologist who was so very kind and identified the bird for me. So when yesterday they returned in good light, I knew what I am looking at.
The ornithologist also sent some bad news with the identification. He confirmed my subjective observation that there are significantly fewer birds. Some species are actually becoming rare – the whole genus Carduelis for example (greenfinches, goldfinches, siskins). This winter I have not seen a single specimen of these three species, whereas in previous years greenfinches and siskins came in flocks counting dozens.
And yes, we finally had a few cms of snow. This week seems to have been the actual winter, what we had before was merely agonizingly long and dark fall.
Something special from Lofty today.
I thought that it’s about time I added some spring cheer into the blog. Attached are pictures of the Eastern Spinebill chicks nearly ready to leave the nest. I first noticed them as I brushed under our snowball tree and they made a thin piping noise. Carefully pulling down the branch to see into the foliage must have made the babies think that a parent with a meal had arrived. The first picture includes the parent that was too quick to catch in a second photo. The next day the chicks were looking much readier and a couple of days later they were gone, leaving only a pile of baby feathers on the ground below.
Frog Pond trail is used by a lot of people walking dogs, but it’s actually owned by our local school board. In addition to the pond and mixed forest pathways, there’s a small building on the property that can be used by visiting classes. In the spring and the fall, Jack and I often run into groups of grade-schoolers out for a nature walk. The kids are always boisterous, loud and full of energy and Jack delights in them. He wiggles and waggles and makes little happy, huffing noises that entertain the kids in return. It’s an active, well-used trail, and there are no signs anywhere to identify it as belonging to our school system
Then, today, Jack and I stumble across this laminated woodpecker held in place by a push pin next to a series of holes that were obviously made by a woodpecker. We found 3 or 4 more of the laminated woodpeckers with holes along the trail, causing me to spend much of our walk imagining the class that placed them there. In my minds-eye, I see a group of youngsters aged 7 -8 with their teacher and a few volunteer parents traipsing down the trail. There is a general happy chatter then an excited voice calls out,
” I found one, Mrs. Smith. I found one!”
And so, Mrs. Smith comes to the child, taking a laminated woodpecker out of her school bag and reaching into her pocket for a push-pin, and she takes the child to the holey stump, and together they pin the cheerful redhead into place. Or not.
We’ll never know just how those woodpeckers go to be there, and so any and all stories are possible. Maybe it was Bigfoot or Aliens or magic gnomes and hobbits.
Well, I did say possible, not probable.
Robert, Desert Son OM kindly reminded us that today is Caine’s birthday. I am rubbish at dates, but I always prefer birthdays to death days, as they speak of life and quite often, of happy memories.
How to better celebrate Caine’s birthday than with a bird, so here’s a duck on a sea of gold. Happy Birthday, Caine!