Sunday, October 16, 2016

Marine Park Salt Marsh 10.16.16

     After taking yesterday to be all domestic and wife-like (I made batches of "Sunday Sauce," apple muffins, cleaned the place, went dress shopping, and made a killer bowl of miso ramen- with all the toppings... no, I'm not bragging....), today had to be an outside day. And what a day it was, I got to shed a few layers!
     I made an afternoon of things at the Salt Marsh Nature Center in Marine Park where I spent a lot of time watching everything. I checked out every sparrow, sat around hoping things that dove in for cover would come back out, and muttered out loud, often, to myself "ugh, another song sparrow..." or "...yellow-rumped."
     I got some nice surprises, in terms of observing behaviors, and some photogenic individuals. So no complaints in terms of todays sights, enjoy...
I arrived with high tide, and a group of 4 double-crested cormorants were fishing together. I would assume that working together around a school of small fish would work out in someones favor. They would dive and resurface together. I saw them come up a few times with a prize.
A snowy egret, perhaps thinking about the journey that lies ahead and perhaps considering waiting a few more days as temperatures here are predicted to get up to 80 by mid-week. 
A very urban look for the song sparrow, as it poses so perfectly on a chain-link fence. Someone once mentioned to me how it seems that chain-link was designed with birds in mind, so many of them has no problem navigating through the small space between each link.

Hard at work.
A female downy woodpecker makes the perfect little cavity. There are a few dead trees in the salt marsh, often dead trees are removed by humans- thought to be of little use, or simply an eyesore. But dead limbs and trunks provide great opportunities for cavity nesters, and ones that create those cavities.
I was told by another observer that she has been working at this for the last two days.
A back trail, toward the ball courts are perfect for peeking at sparrows and finches. The tall grasses are full of seed and the seed-eaters are taking advantage. Here a swamp sparrow forages close to the edge.
Many American Goldfinch were bobbing and swaying from the stalks of the tall wildflowers.
I really wanted this to be something else, but who knew- the swamp is full of swamp sparrows!
Lots of bee species taking advantage of the goldenrod. Also taking advantage of these late blooms were monarchs and cabbage whites.
I also heard a call I know well, only to look up and find a pair of kestrels scanning and hovering for prey. Here, is the male.
I saw the pair had settled- I found the female on one tree eating her prize. Being the smallest falcon in N. America, it is not uncommon for these birds to prey not only upon small birds and rodents, but insects too. It almost looks like she has a mantid or katydid.
And then she made for a wonderful subject... note how her belly is streaky, kestrels are easy to tell apart in terms of their sex.
Another indicator of sex- the wings, barred on the female, wings of the male are slate blue.
Both male and female are some of the more beautiful of the birds of prey. I admire them greatly, tiny but tough.
A red bellied woodpecker peers around a dead limb to see if there is anything worthwhile...
He didn't give a single hammer- he just peered around...
Frome all angles, just to make sure he wouldn't miss a morsel.
Lucky for me, the male kestrel was just a few trees over from the female. A handsome guy, he is.

How perfect is this avian-dinosaur?!
Perfect!
Also treated to a coopers hawk who scared the sparrows I was watching. I tend to enjoy the raptors over the little guys... they really draw me in.
By time I left, the tide had gone out and the low-tide crew came in- more egrets and a group of greater yellowlegs, ran around chasing down little things to eat.