Tuesday, March 25, 2008

This week on the marsh

Last night, I took advantage of the ever-increasing amount of daylight remaining when I get home from work and took a walk on the marsh. I got another picture from up high near the road of some ducks, including American Wigeon and Northern Pintail (though I don't think there are any wigeons in this pic): I decided I would get closer to the Long Pond, and if I scared away the ducks, I would just camp out there and wait for them to return. Well, sure enough, just as I saw some Wood Ducks swimming around, I scared them away and then it was pretty much a mass freak-out as ducks everywhere scurried from my fearsome presence:


please don't eat us!
Um—sorry ’bout that... And while some ducks did return, they never returned to the area near where I sat down with my scope and camera, all set to take some award-winning photos. Instead, they flew over me and scowled, thinking, “Get out of here!” I think what I need to do is take some sort of portable blind with me out there, and then I could just sit inside and wait for the ducks to come back. They're too smart to come anywhere near someone watching them while holding a big black tube. They're no dummies.So I got up and saw a sparrow and, as I was watching it for ID purposes, I heard what sounded like a small plane buzzing about two feet over my head! I was just about ready to hit the dirt when I realized it was two mallards, giving me the business! I felt a little like this:

Run, Cary!

At one point, though, I think I might have heard a Common Snipe, but there were so many RWBLs all around, and all of them were being very vocal and telling me to leave their area right now!, that it was hard to tell what all I was hearing. I also heard what sounded like a baby’s “waaah,” coming from a densely brushy area (damn that purple loosestrife!). I couldn’t see what was making the noise. This morning, I went to What Bird? and listened to the sounds made by all the likely marsh birds I could think of (Virginia Rail, Sora, Snipe, Woodcock) just to make absolutely sure, but I didn’t hear anything like the waaah noise. Any guesses?

I did, however, see a real cat on the marsh:

He was stalking around toward the Long Pond when he saw me and then just sat there, staring at me, while I stared back at him. And just look at those evil eyes, staring at me and burning into my soul! Right after I took this photo, he decided he’d had enough and ran the other way. I’ve never seen this kitteh anywhere around the marsh before; I wonder where he came from.

I also heard (drumroll please) SPRING PEEPERS! Now I know it’s spring! They started up by the time I got back home.

Some other things I saw:
Mr. Cardinal, calling for Mrs. Cardinal. Loudly.

This may well be the best picture I've ever taken of a RWBL:I lightened this up a bit so that you could see that this RWBL is doing his “oh-ka-lee” (or as Earl Cootie would say, his “Jim Cav-ieeeeee-zel!”) thing here.

These two muskrats were doing some sort of mating ritual where they swam in unison, like a pair of ice skaters, always about a foot apart, all around the Long Pond:

“Looks like muskrat luhuhuh-uh-uv!”

This was right around the time those two crazy ducks buzzed me, and I figured it was time to leave! The rest of the pics were taken on the walk back to my house.

Another RWBL, in the sunset (red wings in the sunset, way out on the sea...):
Some rather strange scat here; you can see it’s almost like a bunch of really black grapes, pressed together in a big lump. It was probably two inches across. Any guesses?

One bunny’s very bad day:I thought I’d found an owl pellet right next to this, but I think it was just some old cat poo. Dangit... and gross.

This egg has been here since the last time I was on the marsh (3/9/08 – I forgot to report it here), and since then it’s snowed and been really cold: It’s right near my garden, just on the marsh side of the fence. It’s about the size of a chicken egg, and it doesn’t look like anything’s been brooding on it. Why is it here? What bird would lay an egg under the grass like this and then just leave it? We don’t have any chickens anywhere around the marsh, but it’s perfectly white and chicken-sized. Maybe it’s some other animal’s egg? (Platypus???) I didn’t touch it, just in case maybe someone has been tending it, but it’s a mystery egg for now.


Larry said...

Sounds and looks like a nice area to do some birding.-I sympathize with you when it comes to ducks. They are gone before I can say Merry Christmas most of the time-at least the ones that are less common.

Dr. Zaius said...

I hope it's a platypus!

Mathman6293 said...

Nothing like a mystery to keep those little gray cells working. Nice pictures.

Earl Cootie said...

Nice cardinal. Been so long since I've seen one. And I like the RWBL, all splay-legged and open-beaked.

Mary said...

Yay! Delia went to the marsh and heard spring peepers! Thanks goodness spring is heading north.

FranIAm said...

Lovely lovely lovely!!!

I saw a beautiful red cardinal today!

Susan Gets Native said...

You need the Science Chimp for that egg.

Platypus....you kill me.

And that RW blackbird shot RAWKS. You can SMELL the testosterone.

KGMom said...

Delia--you have some lovely photos there. I am so partial to photos taking in fading light. And I especially like your muskrat love photo.
Thanks for sharing. I am no help, however, on the scat.
Seeing your Cheney pic depresses me, though--we watched Bush's War on PBS last night and tonight. Oh, history--render your verdict!

Mel said...

Sounds like a great place to spend the day, great pics!

Rabbits' Guy said...

A nice little scavenger hunt!!! Great pix ...

dguzman said...

Larry--yes, it's one of the reasons we bought the house. Those ducks (except mallards, of course!) are twitchy.

Dr Z--if only! hee hee!

Mathman--Yup. I just wish I knew whether it was being kept warm or whatever.

Earl--wow, I can't imagine not seeing cardinals. I got lucky on the RWBL!

Mary--I know! I'm so excited!

Fran--yay! Glad you liked it.

Susan--I thought about turtle, but the only turtle nests I've seen up here are nearer to the water, with the eggs underground. And the eggs have that softer shell on them--all the turtle eggs I've ever heard of are like that, soft and underground. I will do some research on turtles, though--thanks for the tip! I like your comment about the RWBL's testosterone! He really was just yelling at me to get the hell off his marsh.

KG Mom--thank you. I like sunset-lit photos too, though it's hard to get them to come out. Oh Cheney--oy vey.

Mel--thanks! It's a wonderful place to explore.

Rabbits' Guy--it's like that every time I go out. I love it! I was sad to see the bunny fur though.

Dr. Zaius said...

By the way, please read this to Niblet, because the hero of the story is a bunny! :o)

Anonymous said...

Those pix are incredible. I love that RWBlackbird pick. Both actually. As soon as I saw the scat I thought cat. Your marsh is fab!

dguzman said...

Dr Z--it will be his bedtime story this very night!

DCup--thanks. The poop was too big and roundish to be a kitty poo, though. You're always welcome to come on by if you're in the neighborhood--I know you're looking for a new place.... ;)

elizabird said...

I'm gonna venture to say...Bullfrog. My best guess.


dguzman said...

You know, Liz, it might well have been a frog -- maybe making some "excited" noises or something!