Today in nature I saw

I’ve worked with owls hands-on at various rescues over the years, but I’m pretty sure this was the first owl I’ve seen in the wild.

Today in our local park we were taking a stroll. Making out way along a path which runs alongside the stream. And you know what? I had the strangest feeling I was being watched…

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As dusk fell we found ourselves not far from the park and watched a heron flying off to roost. Might have been the same one.

j

You know what, that typo (“out” for “our”) has an unexpected effect on the meaning of that post.

Hey ho.

j

I love seeing herons from a kayak. They’re usually pretty tolerant of me, then when they fly off they tend to go fifty yards or so then land again. There size makes them easy to follow.

Not seeing, but hearing. This last weekend, waking up at 2 a.m. and hearing the loons calling to each other. So beautiful.

Not seeing, not hearing, but being attacked by…

So I was out foraging, as I do at this time of year. I had cycled to Hedgecourt Lake (from where I reported seeing an osprey, back in the spring). It’s a very pleasant place (click for uncropped photo).

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As I was foraging away, a family of swans stopped by. There are actually three cygnets - the third is just visible close to the bank, having ducked it’s head down just as I snapped the photo.

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I was just thinking that mamma and papa had done a pretty good job of parenting if they still had three sturdy looking offspring in September, when one of the adults and one of the cygnets lumbered out of the water and stomped over to me. Hissing, and having pulled themselves up to their full height - which is a lot.

I’ll shoo them away, I thought, and swung my foraging bag within a few inches of junior’s face. I swear he didn’t even blink. Somebody was going to have to back down. It was me. Come of, man, there were five of them - they drove me off. I waited about twenty yards away, and after a while they just seemed to lose interest, got back into the water and paddled off.

Strange encounter.

j

Oh, not at all. Mute Swans are assholes :slight_smile:.

Squawk loudly and carry a big beak?

Hiss loudly and carry huge wings AND a big beak :laughing:. They really aren’t afraid of much - nothing really regularly predates healthy adults. Even eagle attacks are pretty rare. And they’re territorial as hell.

I appreciate them and I’ve never had a negative interaction with one myself, but I sure have seen other people (and dogs) have to beat a hasty retreat. It might have been a discussion here or some other board when someone suggested introducing mute swans to control Canada geese infestations and I was like oh, hell no - the cure is as bad as the disease.

Owls…and Herons?

When I used to live in Shoreline, WA there was a fairly large park nearby, with Shoreline Community College on one side, and a neighborhood on the other. The park itself is heavily wooded, dark, and with some surprising elevation changes within a short distance. Once while hiking around in there, during the day, I heard the “Who cooks for you?!” call of a Barred Owl.

I had recently gone on an evening “Owl Prowl” guided nature walk down in Seward Park (a small peninsula that juts into Lake Washington) and we heard / saw / saw signs of various types of owls that lived there. So…at least I recognized the call when I heard it. Never actually saw the owl in the Shoreline Park, tho.

There is a Heron, might be a great blue, that fishes at the creek / ditch that runs around the nearby farms on its way to the Wabash River. I don’t like to scare it off, but sometimes see it while driving over the creek on a bridge. It’s usually in the same spot, looking for fish. If you step out of the car it definitely will fly off.

A pileated woodpecker, and a bunny. Also a slow squirrel. (Too slow to get out of the way of a car.)

Last week near Portland OR, I saw a large bird of prey (hawk, vulture, I dunno) sailing along, then a little bird, flapping like mad out of nowhere, come much too close to the big one. I thought the little guy was about to be lunch. Then suddenly, the small bird entrained behind the large one, spread out its wings and they both started sailing in formation, the little one mimicking every turn and whirl of the big one. I suppose they must have been mama and child. I’d no idea birds taught their kids to soar; it was quite amazing.

I was talking with a birder while kayaking and I mentioned Great Blue Herons getting startled by people then flying off a short distance.

He told me it is better not to startle them; they use considerable energy flying and often struggle to get necessary calories each day. We have been keeping that in mind and giving them wide berth.

There was a heron right off the bike trail yesterday morning. I felt bad about him flying off.

Saw a blue heron waiting for the shadows to fall just right so he could go fishing. He was sitting and preening right at the end of my brother’s dock. In the hot, midday sun, the fishies are under the dock, but as the shadows lengthen, they come out and Mr. Heron is ready.

There’s a great blue heron nesting in one of the trees out back. Sounds like a grumpy old man.

I’m outside tonight and hear shuffling around and using my phone’s light find a possum on the hunt, who procedes to track down, dig out, capture and eat what I’m pretty sure is a mouse.

https://youtu.be/EoQzQAl4SeM

I’m struck by how good a job the possum does of feeding itself but once again at how poor a job it does of being cautious around the human. Not only does it not mind being followed and filmed, but at the end it walks inside a small trash can, which I then tilt upright. It was only by a fraction of a second that it managed to jump back out before the can was fully upright and the possum snarling for the camera. Yet somehow they manage to thrive even though their primary defense is to get so scared that they faint.

*The video quality is bad because it was night, with my phone, and the phone’s flashlight the only illumination.

**The phone’s microphone is sensitive but the noise cancellation is poor, so it always sounds like the video is being recorded by Darth Vader.

***I missed around the first 30 seconds of the possum loudly crunching on the mouse because I thought the camera was recording when it wasn’t. That was too bad—it was pretty crunchy.

I never got a picture (probably because I was scared sht**less) but when we were going on a long haul flight from Alaska to Vietnam pre-pandemic, we were caught in the middle of a storm and the turbulence was terrible. I thought it was only a thing in the movies, but the pilot flew us high enough that we went over the clouds and I was overwhelmed with the sight of sunshine over a sea of clouds. Nothing has took my breath as much as it did in that very moment. Sometimes I wonder, did I already die in that plane ride (sh*t was scary) and that I already saw heaven. But that idea easily gets shut down by the fact that I’m still paying for taxes, my Roth, and other bills. But damn… wish I could see that one more time before I die.

I worked out a deal to park our put-in vehicle and access Crooked Creek from a guy’s property for $10, so we were able to paddle a section of creek we’d never kayaked before. It was awesome with some nice riffles and a low-head dam a property owner had constructed.

We saw many kingfishers, and they seemed pretty nonchalant about sharing the waterway with us. Saw a fawn getting a drink while we quietly floated by.

Had a close-call with successive strainers that we really should have portaged around. A tree had tipped over from the right bank, blocking 90% of the river, but allowing us to get by on the left. But another tree had tipped over from the left bank what looked like 100 yards downstream, leaving passage to the right.

What I read as an easy passage ended up a close call. The 100 yards was closer to 60, and we both barely made it by the strainer. Close call!

From a couple of days ago, and a trip to the Sussex Prairie Garden - some obliging butterflies.

Red Admiral (ooops - click for full photo)
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Comma
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Meadow Brown
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j