Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Monday Miscellany: Looking at the Little Things--Buster, Chewy, the Energizer Chickadee and More

This is Buster (aka Trib from the Triborough Nest) of Astoria Park. Now that you know who he is what is the next thing you look for having to do with a fledgling? His crop. Yes, he's eaten. Whew. That's a relief. And no matter how many times I've seen a full crop, I'm always delighted to see the next one as I then know no one is going hungry.

This is Chewy the Wisconsin Chipmunk. Wait a minute why does his back have a part down the middle? Because he's wet. It's been raining and unlike squirrels who use their tails as umbrellas, a Chipmunk tail just doesn't do the trick.

Now check his cheeks. For those who haven't seen many Chipmunks, they have internal pouches to stash food. They are short of wearing apparel sporting pockets. They then carry the seeds to their burrow and store it for the long deep snowed in winters of Wisconsin. Speaking of which, just where is Chewy's hole these days? Off I go to investigate. Both Chewy and the backyard shrews prefer burrows under the edges of concrete or asphalt in wet weather.

After scrutinizing all the available hard edges, I come across the entrance to Chewy's burrow. It leads under the driveway. I know it's Chewy's and not the Shrew family's due to size. See Sharpie for comparison.

This is parsley. Just garden variety parsley, which is beginning to blossom. Look closely. There are literally hundreds of beautiful tiny flowers opening up to the sun.

And remember the Energizer fledgling Black-capped Chickadee? Where are his eyes? See them? They're black like his cap. Therefore a predator can't tell where he's looking nor does a contrasting gleam give him away as easily, that he is a creature at all.

But look what happens when he sleeps. His eyelids match the sides of his head so that one does not notice so easily that he is asleep. He could still have his black eyes open and we'd not see them due to his cap.

Ah, and the roadsides are full of the Chicory that's in bloom. Blue flowers are not all that common if you give it some thought. And this, no less a beauty, because the species itself is common.

Remember the post about the squirrels disagreeing as to which of them should have the one dry spot on a tree during the torrential rain storm? And is was coming down in buckets. There was a request to see the photos once I could bring them up. Now keep in mind these aren't beauty shots, these photographs were taken spur of the moment to document the squirrels behavior through a wet window.
The clouds were dark, but then they'd been dark for hours. The air went from no raindrops to bejillion per second in the blink of any eye. With tremendous winds to boot. The two squirrels were both taken unaware, and both taking into account the wind that was blowing sheets of rain, both bombed over to exactly the same tree and the same spot. It turned out to be the only place in the area in which the trunk was dry. There was a squirrel scuffle--

And the squirrel on the left was chased off the dry area and to the side where she was getting somewhat wet. Not as wet as if she were on the opposite side which was being saturated mightily but she's definitely getting wet on her left side.

While the squirrel in the dry spot is hunkering down and thinking about his own business, the squirrel on the left, who's getting wet, is creeping her way up the trunk towards the advantage of --THE HIGH GROUND. The place to be in any battle, just look in any book about military strategy.

She then is able to turn the tables but she doesn't press her advantage. She's willing to share and as she's in the power position, bottom squirrel decides that he won't push the issue either. Both squirrels ride out the storm keeping a close eye on each other. But at least it's a dry eye.

Ever notice how many shades of green there are?

And this is the Mad Monarch. He was flying about FAST! This way and that over the Milkweed patch. Back and forth, up and down. I'm not sure what he was about, but anthropomorphically speaking, he looked to be celebrating something terrific.

How do you tell a Turkey Vulture from a Black Vulture or perhaps even other large species?
The first thing after the wings is a quick look to see if the head is red. It can often still be seen even if they are extremely high in the sky.
What might this one be up to?

He gains altitude through taking several circles each one higher than the previous ones.

And before too terribly long, he's reached the height of the top of the electrical pole.

Where he glides in and makes a rather clever landing for such a heavy bodied bird. If they've just eaten their fill, Turkey Vultures absolutely must have some wind to work with or they will remain grounded until one appears.
I waited and watched for another half hour though virtually nothing seemed to be happening. And that's how I found out that the vultures don't roost on the tower at night but rather sail over to the trees to take their rest.
Keep watching-- even the littlest things.
You never now what you'll find there.
Donegal Browne

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