Showing posts from September, 2013

Odd behaviour

Odd behaviour, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. While in Ohio at the Midwest Birding Symposium we saw ring-billed gulls landing in dog wood trees and eating the berries.
Gulls are scavengers but I didn't know they would eat fruit.
It may be possible they were eating insects and not the berries but that isn't what it looked like.

Scientific stuff
Larus delawarensis
From Cornell Lab of OrnithologyFamiliar acrobats of the air, Ring-billed Gulls nimbly pluck tossed tidbits from on high. Comfortable around humans, they frequent parking lots, garbage dumps, beaches, and fields, sometimes by the hundreds. These are the gulls you're most likely to see far away from coastal areas—in fact, most Ring-billed Gulls nest in the interior of the continent, near freshwater. A black band encircling the yellow bill helps distinguish adults from other gulls—but look closely, as some other species have black or red spots on the bill
Many, if not most, Ring-billed Gulls return to breed at the colon…

A fall visitor

A fall visitor, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. The fall bird migration is underway and we are getting lots of bird species at our small pond.
This is a Wilson's Warbler with his black cap.
It winters in Central America.

Scientific Stuff
Cardellina pusilla

Adult Description
Small songbird.
Underparts entirely yellow.
Back olive green.
Face yellow.
Plain dark wings and tail.
Male with black cap
Breeds in shrub thickets of riparian habitats, edges of beaver ponds, lakes, bogs, and overgrown clear-cuts of montane and boreal zone. Winters in tropical evergreen and deciduous forest, cloud forest, pine-oak forest, and forest edge habitat; also found in mangrove undergrowth, secondary growth, thorn-scrub, dry washes, riparian gallery forest, mixed forests, brushy fields, and plantations.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Photo taken at Rondeau Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada.

Dinosaurs still roam

Dinosaurs still roam, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. We saw this large snapping turtle in Ohio on the weekend.
It was one of the largest I've seen.
Probably close to 3 feet from head to tail.

Scientific stuff
Chelydra serpentine
The upper shell, the carapace, ranges from 10 inches to 20 inches.
They weigh between 10 and 35 pounds on average.
Scientific stuff

Common habitats are shallow ponds, shallow lakes, or streams.
Snappers will travel extensively overland to reach new habitat or to lay eggs. Pollution, habitat destruction, food scarcity, overcrowding and other factors will drive snappers to move overland; it is quite common to find them traveling far from the nearest water source. This species mates from April through November, with their peak laying season in June and July. The female can hold sperm for several seasons, using it as necessary. Females travel over land to find sandy soil in which to lay their eggs, often some distance from the water


Juxtaposition., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. When you have 800 hungry birders you better have a feeder ready.
This was a sign at the Midwest Birding Symposium held at Lakeside, Ohio.
Good food, good people.


Attack, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr.

We were in Ohio attending the Midwest Birding Symposium put on by Bird Watchers Digest this past weekend.
On our way back we drove through a marsh area and saw a black-crowned night heron hunting.
I had several photos of it staring at the water and then it took off after its prey, a small fish, which it caught and ate.
My imac is not cooperating so I am having trouble retrieving photos.

Scientific stuff
Nycticorax nycticorax

With a range that spans five continents, including much of North America, the Black-crowned Night-Heron is the most widespread heron in the world. It is most active at dusk and at night, feeding in the same areas that other heron species frequent during the day.
Adult Description
Medium-sized, stocky heron
Short neck and thick black bill.
Black cap and back.
Wings gray.
Underparts white.
Source - Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Cicada killer

Cicada killer, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. I hadn't heard about these wasps before I saw one flying to its nest with a cicada.
They pay no attention to humans but cicadas should be looking over their shoulders.
They dig burrows in sandy soil 10 to 20 inches deep, they capture cicadas by stinging them then carry them back to the nest.
They lay eggs in the cicada then close the burrow.

Photo by ric mcarthur

From Wikipedia
Adult eastern cicada killer wasps are large, 1.5 to 5.0 centimetres (0.6 to 2.0 in) long, robust wasps with hairy, reddish and black areas on the thorax (middle part), and are black to reddish brown marked with light yellow stripes on the abdominal (rear) segments. The wings are brownish. Coloration superficially resembles that of some yellowjacket and hornet species. The females are somewhat larger than the males, and both are among the largest wasps seen in the Eastern United States, their unusual size giving them a uniquely fearsome appearance.
Sphecius speci…

Entry to Oblivion

Entry to Oblivion, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. When I see a different spider web I think of the old poem that starts
"Will you walk into my parlour?' said the Spider to the Fly"
I don't know what type of spider makes a ground web like this.
With the dew on it you can appreciate the structure better.

Mr. Bluebird is in my pond.

Mr. Bluebird is in my pond., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr.
I remember the Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Zip-A-Dee-A song from Disney back when I was a kid. Part of it went
"Mister bluebird on my shoulder
It's the truth
It's actual
Everything is satisfactual"

It makes a day seem special when one comes by because they are not a normal yard bird for us.

Scientific stuff
Sialia sialis
Male Eastern Bluebirds are a brilliant royal blue on the back and head, and warm red-brown on the breast. Blue tinges in the wings and tail give the grayer females an elegant look.
The Eastern Bluebird is a small thrush with a big, rounded head, large eye, plump body, and alert posture. The wings are long, but the tail and legs are fairly short. The bill is short and straight.

They feed by dropping to the ground onto insects or, in fall and winter, by perching on fruiting trees to gulp down berries. Bluebirds commonly use nest boxes as well as old woodpecker holes.
Source - Cornell Lab of Ornit…

Nashville warbler

Nashville warbler, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Each fall we get a large number of warbler species in their migration to their wintering grounds.
Yesterday we had 5 warbler species, a Swainson's thrush, bluebirds, red and white breasted nuthatches among others.
Cool Facts from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:
The Nashville Warbler sometimes uses porcupine quills as nest material.
Most first-year Nashville Warblers migrate along the Atlantic coast, while adults tend to migrate along inland routes.
The Nashville Warbler does not regularly breed near Nashville, Tennessee, but was first observed there in 1811 by Alexander Wilson, who named the species.
Scientific stuff:
Oreothlypis ruficapilla
Medium-sized warbler.
Gray head.
White eyering.
Plain olive-green back and wings.
Yellow throat, breast, and belly.

Photo taken at Rondeau Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada.

and he doesn't even like water.

and he doesn't even like water., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Ozzie seems to have found a new place for having his naps.
Not what I expect first thing in the morning.
Spiders, sure, but not cats.

That's one angry bird.

That's one angry bird., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Talk about your bad hair days.
He certainly appeared to be defensive about his new look.
Scientific stuff:

Bald heads can be caused by an abnormal molt. This type of feather loss mostly occurs in summer and fall, which are typical molting times.Other cases of baldness may result from feather mites or lice, or some environmental or nutritional factor.
Common grackle
Quiscalus quiscula

On Gaurd

On Gaurd, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Ruby throated hummingbirds can be very territorial when it comes to feeders.
This one was sitting about 2 feet above "his" feeder and wouldn't let any of the other birds near it.
It looks like he expends more energy chasing others away than he gets from the feeder.
We have three feeders out, all out of sight of the other feeders to improve the feeding opportunities for the 8 or so hummingbirds currently in the yard.

Scientific stuff
Archilochus colubris
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is a small hummingbird with a slender, slightly downcurved bill and fairly short wings that don’t reach all the way to the tail when the bird is sitting.
These tiny birds are omnivores, sometimes feeding on insects and spiders. An adult ruby-throated hummingbird may eat twice its body weight in food each day

The creature of Rondeau Bay

The creature of Rondeau Bay, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Looks slightly prehistoric, perhaps a little like the Loch Ness Monster.
This is a soft-shelled turtle hatchling that was released a week ago. The researchers wait until the hatchlings enter the water or find shelter.
Burrowing in the mud/sand/weeds is one way these bite sized turtles hide from predators.
Scientific stuff

Apalone spinifera
The soft-shell is one of the largest freshwater turtle species in North America.
They get their name from the spiny, cone-like projections on the leading edge of their carapaces, which are not scutes (scales)
Spiny soft-shells begin mating between ages 8 and 10. A large female turtle may live up to 50 years.
The primary threat to spiny soft-shell turtle populations is thought to be habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation resulting from shoreline development or agricultural activity. Other threats include predation of eggs and young, environmental contamination, and injury and death associa…

The Great Escape

The Great Escape, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Come on guys, I'll show you the way.
One bold map turtle hatchling leads the way to freedom while the others try to figure what's happening.
A large release of about 20 clutches, only a few more releases then it will be over for another year.
Photo taken at Rondeau Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada.

Scientific stuff
Due to heavy predation of the turtle nests a research program has been started where nests are dug up by researchers and the site GPS'd.
The eggs are incubated off site and after hatching are released at the nest sites.
These are map turtles being released.
The fine light lines on the carapace of the Northern Map Turtle look like contour lines on a topographic map.
Graptemys geographica

A natural beach.

A natural beach., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. This is the southern end of Rondeau Provincial Park, looking east.
It is a long sandy beach that is rarely visited by the public due to a long walk from the parking areas.
It isn't a popular area with boaters so it remains in an undisturbed state.
From this area you can see back into the marsh with good views of the wild rice.
The day I took this photo there were two bald eagles roosting, kingfishers flying,great blue herons, several species of gulls and soras and rails could be heard calling in the marsh.

There are good swimming beaches on the east side of the park and lots of fishing in Rondeau Bay.

Problems with peple stealing your lunch at work?

Problems with peple stealing your lunch at work?, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Just put up a sign like this and label your lunch "dead skunk" or something similar.
This is the fridge at a research area and they had a problem with the contents of the freezer.
Once a specimen is wrapped and put in it is hard to tell what it was.
They have unusual rules for the freezer now.

Look Ma, No Cavities!

Look Ma, No Cavities!, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Of course he has no teeth so it's easier for him.
This is an immature Green Heron that we saw along the marsh edge in Rondeau Provincial Park.

Are you old enough to remember the Crest commercial from the late 70's that used the the "look ma, no cavities" line?

Photo taken at Rondeau Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada.

For more information go to:

Balls of feathers

Balls of feathers, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. These are herring gull chicks stretching their legs under the watchful eye of an adult.
The nest is on a sand bar in Rondeau Bay.
Herring gulls can live for up to 32 years.

Scientific stuff:

Large, slender gull with long billPale grey back, bright white underparts.
Stout yellow bill with red spot near tip of lower half.
Pink legs.

Larus argentatus

For more information go to

Objects are bigger than they appear.

Objects are bigger than they appear., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Being chosen to participate in a raptor show sounded like fun when the eagle was 70 feet away.
The closer this female bald eagle flew the bigger it got and the less sure she became about being a perch.

At a raptor show sponsored by the Friends of Rondeau.
Ontario Falconry Centre put on a great show, as usual.