Showing posts from October, 2013

Does he remind you of Mr. Burns?

Does he remind you of Mr. Burns?, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Personally, I don't watch the Simpsons, but my kids used to and I would catch little bits of the program.
This Royal tern reminds me of the character.

Scientific stuff -
Thalasseus maximus
A large, orange-billed tern, the Royal Tern is found only along ocean beaches.

The Royal Tern makes its nest scrape on the ground on low-lying islands. The pair defecates directly on the nest rim, perhaps to reinforce the nest against flooding. After a few weeks, the nest rim hardens.

Young Royal Terns leave the nest scrape within one day after hatching and congregate together in a group known as a crèche. Eventually all of the chicks in a colony come to the crèche, which can have thousands of chicks ranging in age from two to 35 days old.

A pair of Royal Terns will feed only their own chick, and manage to find it in the crowd, probably by recognizing its call.

I hate ties.

I hate ties., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Working isn't so bad but why do I have to wear a tie.

This is how I felt for 30 years while working for banks.
I've told my wife if she buries me in a tie, I will come back and haunt her.

Canada goose-
Branta canadensis

Some migratory populations of the Canada Goose are not going as far south in the winter as they used to. This northward range shift has been attributed to changes in farm practices that makes waste grain more available in fall and winter, as well as changes in hunting pressure and changes in weatherThe oldest known wild Canada Goose was 30 years 4 months old.

Don't fence me in.

Don't fence me in., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. We saw this fellow in Texas a few years back.
Seemed to have a regional song that sounded a lot like -
"Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above
Don't fence me in"

Scientific stuff.

Melospiza melodia
Song Sparrows walk or hop on the ground and flit or hop through branches, grass, and weeds. Song Sparrows stay low and forage secretively, but males come to exposed perches, including limbs of small trees, to sing. The oldest known Song Sparrow lived to be 11 years, 4 months old

The wedding was out of this world.

The wedding was out of this world., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. No horse drawn carriages for this couple.
Not sure why, but when I saw this I thought of Michael Jackson.

We saw this at a junky type of store in north western Ohio a few years ago.
A recent trip back to the area revealed that the store was gone and so was the rocket wedding.

On the hunt

On the hunt, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. This black crowned night heron forgot to check the time and was out hunting in the middle of the day.
We watched him from across a drainage ditch using the car as a blind( hide for my European friends).
He was successful and had sushi for lunch.
Adults are light-gray birds with a neatly defined black back and black crown. Immatures are brown with large white spots on the wings and blurry streaks on the underparts. Adults have all-black bills; immatures have yellow-and-black bills.

Scientific stuff -
Nycticorax nycticorax

Scientists find it easy, if a bit smelly and messy, to study the diet of young Black-crowned Night-Herons—the nestlings often disgorge their stomach contents when approached.

Young Black-crowned Night-Herons leave the nest at the age of 1 month but cannot fly until they are 6 weeks old. They move through the vegetation on foot, joining up in foraging flocks at night.

Ok, how does he get up thre?

Ok, how does he get up there?, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Short legs, no ladder, so just how does he get up onto the pilings.
Turtles aren't known for their jumping abilities, so how does he do it?
I know how he gets down, I've seen him do it. He leans to the side and goes plop.
I haven't seen him go up, levitation perhaps?

Map turtle -
Graptemys geographica

Send in the clowns

Send in the clowns, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. This is a common shelduck that we saw in Spain last spring.

I find it to be quite comical looking with its upturned bill.
The whole shape of its head and the colouration makes me think of a clown.

They have an unusual profile when flying. Again the upturned bill and shape just make me smile.

Scientific stuff
Tadorna tadorna
The Common Shelduck resembles a small short-necked goose in size and shape. It is a striking bird, with a reddish-pink bill, pink feet, a white body with chestnut patches and a black belly, and a dark green head and neck.


Marmot, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. We saw these critters while we were on a birding trip in Spain earlier this year.

According to Iberian Nature "Marmots became extinct in the Pyrenees during the last ice age, but were introduced by hunters into the French Pyrenees in 1948 in an attempt to reduce the pressure of predation on chamois by golden eagles. By the late 1960s, they had crossed the frontier, and have since flourished on the warmer side of the range. Unlike other introductions, the arrival of marmots appears to have had no negative consequences on ecologies. They are likely to continue to expand in the coming decades much to the delight of hikers and birds of prey."
Marmota marmota

Baby tooth

Baby tooth, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. This very small snapping turtle hatchling still has its egg tooth. You need to look closely.
Turtles, crocodilians, and birds have an analogous horny structure that breaks the shell of the egg to allow them to escape from the egg at hatching.
The only mammals to hatch from eggs, the duck-billed platypus and the echidna, also develop an egg tooth before birth.

Chelydra serpentina

Get them interested when they are young.

Get them interested when they are young., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Those two youngsters watched turtle hatchlings being released at the waters edge.
Eventually they released some as well.
They were fascinated by the the tiny turtles.
Maybe, someday, they will become actively involved in protecting the wild places.
We need to get the new generation involved.

Ten and counting

Ten and counting, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. There are at least 10 frogs of at least 2 different types in the photo.
I think this would make a great jigsaw puzzle.

Taken in the marsh at Rondeau Provincial Park.

Here there be Dragons

Here there be Dragons, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Not sure why dragonflies are called dragons, however, this is a ruby meadowhawk, thanks Blake.
Evidently the tail looks like a darning needle.
We get a number of dragon and damselflies in and around our yard each year.

Scientific stuff
This dragonfly is typically 1.3 inches in length.It is generally found near various forms of wetlands, but will sometimes be seen in meadows and open areas far from water. They are typically observed from late summer to early fall.Geographically, the Ruby Meadowhawk's range is from the Great Plains to Maine.The head is yellowish-brown, the thorax deep red to brown, and the abdomen is red to brown with dark lateral srtipes.They are also characterized by dark legs and wing veins.

House wren

House wren, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. The fully cocked tail is a good field mark for this little bird.
He landed on a small flag holder hear its nest and sang its warning song. I guess I was to close.

Scientific stuff

Troglodytes aedon
A plain brown bird with an effervescent voice, the House Wren is a common backyard bird over nearly the entire Western Hemisphere. Listen for its rush-and-jumble song in summer and you’ll find this species zipping through shrubs and low tree branches, snatching at insects. House Wrens will gladly use nestboxes, or you may find their twig-filled nests in old cans, boots, or boxes lying around in your garage.

Starling in a hole

Starling in a hole, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. He was scouting our a snag beside our house earlier this spring.
I guess it wasn't up to standard as it wasn't used.

Scientific stuff
Sturnus vulgaris
First brought to North America by Shakespeare enthusiasts in the nineteenth century, European Starlings are now among the continent’s most numerous songbirds. They are stocky black birds with short tails, triangular wings, and long, pointed bills. Though they’re sometimes resented for their abundance and aggressiveness, they’re still dazzling birds when you get a good look. Covered in white spots during winter, they turn dark and glossy in summer. For much of the year, they wheel through the sky and mob lawns in big, noisy flocks.

Mums the word

Mums the word, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. At a farmers market in Chatham.
A little fall colour.

Beach wader

Beach wader, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. This is a sandhill crane that was at the edge of Rondeau Bay.
He didn't move as we coasted by.

Scientific stuff
Grus canadensis
Very large bird.
Long neck.
Long Legs.
Gray body, may be stained reddish.
Red forehead.
White cheek.
Tufted feathers over rump.
It is about 48 inches tall with a wingspan over 7 feet in width.

Follow the leader

Follow the leader, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Several large flights of Canada geese came into Rondeau Bay and flew by the dock I was on.
The wing beats and the continuous calling made for a audio treat.
Photo taken at Rondeau Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada.

Scientific stuff
Branta canadensis
Size & Shape
Canada Geese are big waterbirds with a long neck, large body, large webbed feet, and wide, flat bill.
Color Pattern
Canada Geese have a black head with white cheeks and chinstrap, black neck, tan breast, and brown back.
Canada Geese feed by dabbling in the water or grazing in fields and large lawns. They are often seen in flight moving in pairs or flocks; flocks often assume a V formation.


waterlogged, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. After a thorough bath this chick a dee looked to be about two sizes larger than normal.
It was a good day at the pond with about 17 species of birds dropping by. Also two ruby-throated hummingbirds..

Scientific stuff
Black-capped Chickadee - Poecile atricapillus
This tiny bird has a short neck and large head, giving it a distinctive, rather spherical body shape. It also has a long, narrow tail and a short bill a bit thicker than a warbler’s but thinner than a finch’s.

The cap and bib are black, the cheeks white, the back soft gray, the wing feathers gray edged with white, and the underparts soft buffy on the sides grading to white beneath. The cap extends down just beyond the black eyes, making the small eyes tricky to see.
Photo taken at Rondeau Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada.

Dietary supplement

Dietary supplement, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. The light was terrible but I wanted to get this bird behaviour.
The hummer was picking away at a cocoon or spider nest.
He did get a protein meal out of his work.

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 sittingRuby-throated Hummingbirds fly straight and fast but can stop instantly, hover, and adjust their position up, down, or backwards with exquisite control. They often visit hummingbird feeders and tube-shaped flowers and defend these food sources against others. You may also see them plucking tiny insects from the air or from spider webs.
For more information go to

banding a red headed

banding a red headed, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. A red headed woodpecker int he hand, WOW!
This banding experience has been great.
The birds are caught in "mist" nets then carefully removed by experienced banders.
A band is attached to the leg, the number recorded and various measurements taken.

The bird is released and if it is caught again the tag number can be used to access information on the bird. How old it is, where it came from etc.

I don't think he understands the concept of a box.

I don't think he understands the concept of a box., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Ozzie thinks he's hiding in a box and is ready for a sneak attack on Crash.
I think Crash figured it out.