Monday, April 28, 2008

Pale Male and Lola, Whistle, Cocky White-throat, Night Sky Rainbow, Paper Wasps, Mystery Dirt, Errant Red-wing, Dueling Preening and More!

Lola sits the nest.
I've received many emails asking after Pale Male and Lola. They are continuing to do what they have been doing. Taking shifts on the nest, watching for intruders, eating, hunting, taking baths, "talking" to each other, flying to stretch their wings, and continuing to sit on the eggs--just in case. They will continue in these activities in response to an arc of hormones. If the eggs do not hatch they will eventually leave the nest in the way that they first came to it. Whereas they would come to the nest for short lengths of time growing to longer ones to sitting full time on the high side of the arc, as it begins to descend it all goes backwards. They will leave the nest for short amounts of time, lengthening over days and weeks until they go back to their lives in Central Park full time until next breeding season.

Pale Male keeping vigil from atop Stovepipe, one of his favorite viewing spots to watch prey, check on Lola and the nest, hunt, and survey the territory in case of intruders.

Isolde looks down into the nest at her eyasses, 2007. This is the "look" we have been hoping to see from Lola. In this case, we can see just the top of an eyass head. At first you just see the formel look, as the eyasses are too small to be seen above the sides of the bowl.

And the other "look" we've been hoping to see, also from 2007. We see this eyass but at first we only saw Tristan and Isolde staring into the bowl for many minutes without seeing what they were staring at. This is the strong cue for a hatch which we've been looking for from Pale Male and Lola.

Remember Whistle in Wisconsin who hot wings it to the train tracks when the train goes by to nab rodents flushed by the train? Here she is circling above the Piggley Wiggley grocery store. Across the street is a lawn as big as a field in front of an apartment complex. She circled, spied prey, and swooped down. In this case coming up empty but she's experienced and smart. She won't go hungry.

The White-throated Sparrows are back in Wisconsin. This is a white striped male. Research has shown that for whatever reason, females prefer the tan striped morph. Though this guy has personality so I'm sure he'll buck the trend.

After sunset the other day, in a blinding rainstorm, I came out of a store and spied this rainbow--in the dark. It was quite a mystery for me. Was there just enough sunlight to create it or was it being created by the large amount of artificial lighting in the parking lot across the way?

An extremely large paper wasp nest hanging in an tree at Thresherman's Park. Wasps are considered beneficial to agriculture as they eat corn earworms, armyworms, tobacco hornworms, and harmful caterpillars. They live communally and they have an edge on bees when it comes to stinging. A bee's sting is a one shot deal. The stinger remains in the stingee. Whereas wasps on the other hand have a lance like stinger and can just keep on stinging.
There are about 700 species of paper wasps world wide. So it's easy to run across them. If a paper wasp is near, the recommended behavior is to cover your face and stand still. Swinging, slapping, and other aggressive movements just upset them and they'll have more of a tendency to get agitated and sting. If you are stung there are several old home remedies. In the field, you attempt to find someone with tobacco, get some, spit on it, and slap it quickly onto the sting. I've tried it and it helps. When you get back to the kitchen get a handful of baking soda, moisten and plop on the sting, This also helps. If you've never been stung my one, you've not idea how intense it is. A wasp or hornet sting is far more painful than that of honey bees.

Also at Thresherman's park, they were digging holes for a foundation for a 1920's Sears kit house. But the mysterious part, is the soil. All the holes after a slight layer of top soil and just below the layer contained pure sand. Except one. Very weird. Look at the closest pole base on the left. When they hole was dug, it was the only place that contained large amounts of clay, while the rest were pure sand. Just that little pocket, but why?

Another abberation. We're all used to mixed flocks of Starlings, Grackles, black birds of various species. But by this time of year, all the self respecting Red-wings have staked out their territory and are singing their guts out attempting to collect their harem for the season. Except the Red-wing under the picnic table.

He's still hanging out with a mono-flock of Grackles. Why?

Well, this guy looks pretty mean. Maybe he won't let Red-wing leave. (That's a joke.)

Left Barn Swallow was sitting on the wire for about a half hour before Right Barn Swallow showed up. Right didn't even glance his way, but started immediately to preen.

Left looked hostile for a moment but then he decided to preen vigorously as well. Now Right looks hostile.

Left looks hostile and Right begins to preen at fast forward.

Left looks the other way and pretends that Right isn't there.

Right keeps going...

And going...

Then goes mad preening his chest. Left is still ignoring him.

Finally he can't take it anymore, and screams at Left. Left flips his head and leaves. Rather like he'd planned it the whole time.

The Wade Farm: Here is the nest of Christopher Red-tail, though Chris didn't make an appearance nor did we see any activity at the nest.

And a wonderful Raccoon moment photographed by Eleanor Tauber. She really does have a knack for Raccoon photography.

And talk about luscious, Eleanor photographed these tulips at the Conservatory Gardens in NYC.
I can practically smell them from here.
Donna Browne

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