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Nature in it's glory

Nature in it's glory

May 24, 2012

Playing House?

Raven  with nesting material

Bird behavior can be quite fascinating, especially when it involves the more intelligent species.  On the last day of April, when I visited the little forest, I watched this Raven begin the construction of a nest in the fork of a tall tree.

Raven's typically perform their mating flight in late January or early Feb and soon after nesting begins. The Raven's young fledge at the beginning, or mid May. So I was naturally surprised to see this kind of activity, and decided to keep an eye on the nest.

Adding more nesting material
This one is difficult to manage

It took this particular Raven approximately two weeks to finish the construction, because at one point she didn't like the nests location and changed it. I watched as another Raven joined her, both quite busy with the construction.

She keeps trying
This time it's going into place

While Ravens and Crows normally get along well, they do not do so during nesting season. Raven don't descriminate, so they will prey on a crows young too. So When the crows that are also nesting in the little forest, noted their activity they immediately began mobbing the Ravens, forcing the male to defend his newly claimed territory.

Raven on watch
Young Raven

He wasn't very successful, but kept trying. This went on for a few days.  Then one day, last week, I went back to discover that the new nest had already been abandoned. I guess defending it against that many crows was nearly impossible.

Finished and abandoned

I learned last year that Ravens, being the intelligent creatures that they are, typically do not form a mating bond until they can prove that they are able to defend territory and provide food. My best guess is that this particular Raven pair were at practise/play, practise makes perfect after all and play can be practise.

Feeding Time
The Family

However, I also wondered why the Ravens that currently nest only a block away would put up with another pair setting up shop, as it were, so close to their nest. I could only conclude that at least one of this late nesting pair is one of their offspring, or because they are just juveniles they pose little threat. In the meantime, the pair that currently holds the territory has three fledglings. Here they are, above, being fed, very close to the newly constructed and abandoned nest.


May 16, 2012

One of many trails
My trip to the River Valley on Monday was adventurous to say the least. Both bus stops that would drop me off close to the trails were closed due to construction. Nevertheless, after some time, I found a way in. While I was seeking a way in, I came across this tiny brown cottontail, who obligingly didn't run off at the sight of me.

Brown cotton-tail

When I visit the river valley, I like to follow one particular trail that runs alongside the river itself. Mostly I like it because there are few people that use this trail. This is where I spotted a Peregrine Falcon last year. This time I watched a crow moving about on some driftwood in the river. I have no idea what he was looking for, but he kept losing his balance and nearly fell into the water a couple of times. It was quite amusing.

Crow trying to keep his balance

The trip itself didn't yield any new birds. However, I did find plenty of White-throated sparrows, on one of the side trails in another part of the valley. Rustling sounds on the forest floor is what got my attention, resulting in these photos. It was quite delightful watching them pushing dry leaves about, scratching at the ground like chickens and sometimes making small jumps upward to catch a bug on the branch of a bush, or dry weed above.

White-throated sparrow

 I soon discovered that the rustling sounds were not just made by the White-throated sparrow however. This little chipmunk was also rustling around. He was climbing small shrubs to pouch last years seeds which are still clinging to the branches.

Chipmunk at the top of a bush
Pouching seeds
Standing free style

There is always plenty to see in the river valley and Monday was not different. At this time of the year, there are many delicate new blooms to view. I was lucky enough to discover this gorgeous wildflower as I was moving slowly around in a semi-open area with plenty of low bushes in search of more ground foraging birds.
Beautiful Wildflower-vine
A front view

Then, while attempting to spot a delightfully singing bird, which I believed to be a Yellow warbler, this beautiful little butterfly kept distracting me. It was kind enough to show me the true color of it's wings. Naturally, since it opened it's wings in invitation, I just had to take some photos. 

Little blue
A small jewel
A Front view

I spent serveral enjoyable hours in the river valley exploring new trails and making new discoveries, which will have me returning very soon. In the meantime, the way home proved to be as adventurous as the way in. The bus stop that I normally use, was also closed, which forced me to use the long steep wooden stairs which lead up to the McDonald Hotel directly downtown. Here are a few photos of a view from the top,inlcuding one of the bus stop which is now closed.

Bus stop closed
River valley and river queen
Muttard conservatory watch for future post


May 14, 2012

Once second with nature: May

When nature once again brings a warming to the world, trees and flowers open up to life and bloom again.  So can you!  Go ahead enjoy the sun and open up to nature.  Let yourself shine.


May 11, 2012

Wings and more wings

New Growth

This week has been very hectic, however I did get in a few short and wonderful moments on bird watch.   At this time of year there are many more winged creatures about and the very air is filled with a renewal of  life and new possibilities.   This means that I love to be outside more than in, especially if  the surroundings are all natural. There were many more winged creatures to see than just birds.  So this week I thought I would give you a glimpse of  just a few that I came into contact with.

Eastern Phoebe
Front view
Eastern Phoebe with prey

This includes a lifer for me. An Eastern Phoebe, who was both beautiful and very cooperative.
Busy Bee #1
Busy Bee #2

There were lots of  very busy bees almost everywhere that I went.
Little Blue close up
Little Blue wont show his color
Question Mark
Mourning Cloak
An Admiral

Every where that I went Butterflies were flitting about, seeking their mates.  The Mourning Cloak was insistent on landing on my head.  If  it  wasn't  for the Budgie we had when I was a child, my first reflex  would  have been to swat  hard at what ever had landed on my head.  Lucky for the butterfly that I just gently brushed my hand across my hair, even though I had no idea what had landed there.

I came across the unidentified tiny little flier below in the little forest down the street, along with this lady bird.

Unidentified little flier
Lady Bird

The Yellow-rumped Warblers have just arrived in numbers.  The one presented here posed very sweetly for me.  There were Song sparrows and White-throated Sparrows, Tennesse Warblers and Orange Crowned warblers.  Alas they were not very cooperative this week.  However, the shy little Merlin below was perched on a tree near the bus stop on my way to work.  I caught him on the fly, just seconds before he took off and the bus arrived.

Looking up

Yellow-rumped Warlber handing on
Showing his yellow rump