Saturday, June 21, 2008

Day 165, Sunday, 6/21/08, Year Four Dancer & Daedee: Snow Falling on Eagles

Hello Eagle Friends,

It was a beautiful mid 80s day in the valley. The sun was shining until early evening when the clouds rolled in bringing in the thunderstorms.

Em went with me and we had a great time swapping stories and making up characters for the books she wants to create while we sat looking up at the eaglets.

Dancer had just dropped off dinner as we stepped on the well-traveled, winding trail through the 8 foot grasses. The wind provided comfort from the heat, and the clouds were beginning to fill in all that open blue sky.

The eaglets hardly act like 10 week old eaglets, and I don't think these two at nest 1 will be leaving, by choice, any time soon.
They just are not practicing their flights like they should be at their age. Having some good weather this week may change that

Neither eaglet was eating the food brought in, it seemed to be more of a dominance play. Who ever could hold their stance over the food seemed to be the game. Maybe they had eaten well today and just were not hungry. But then again, have you ever known an eaglet not to be hungry?

D'ODEE sat on the west of the nest watching the sun setting, while Daniels Charlie sat in his favorite spot on the south side of the nest looking down at us frequently.

We stayed as late as we could without missing our lighting on the other nests.

On our way to nest 2, there was a huge deer, so big, that I was sure it was the only antler-less buck in our region, but it turned its head and it was a doe. She turned her head in the tall weeds where she had been grazing and then moved on.

At nest 2, Terry Gail was up on the nest crying out and walking to the very edge of the north side of the nest. Many times The Mayor or Judy will sit there, and I think she was just checking to see if one or the other had silently flown in. The early
evening lightening blazed across the bright yellow feet of this young eagle.

I know the shots I took tonight are of the remaining few I will of this eaglet before she fledges, probably this week. She is ready, and a week ago, I thought she had fledged.

We moved on to nest 6 where we found Freedom and Soar, the 8 week old twins perched looking out at their view of the marshes below.

Further up the road we found the big pond's goslings who in just the last week have changed from gosling to young goose.
The shot you see is both the parent and the goslings, can you tell who is who?

The goslings are the shorter ones in the picture.

We found another painted turtle in the road, they must all be starting to lay their eggs, I guess I don't that much about the painted turtles lives, not enough to know why so many of them are sunbathing and spending so much time on the roads this past couple weeks.

The white pelicans that came in a couple days ago had flown off since last night. Maybe they'll return another flock, another day.

For the second day in a row I have only seen one eaglet up on nest 5. I can't be sure if one has fledged or if it is just laying down in the nest at the times I arrive. I did see one of the parents swoop down off the nest, that's the first time in a long time that I have met their timing.

Em kept trying to catch dragonflies and damselflies while I was shooting the nest 5 shots. Then I heard this loud buzz and at the same time Em called out, "Oh mom--that wasn't a dragonfly---it was . . . a hummingbird."

I laughed, "I thought I heard a hummingbird flying around." They make such a loud rustling as they pass you that you never really forget that sound. I don't think I'll ever forget Em's expression either, when she quickly dropped her hands down and pulled her head back as the bird flew past her.

As we drove to nest 3 she said, "I wish I could have a dragonfly for a pet. I've never had one."
"Someday, we'll find one that lives in the marsh and you can watch him grow up."

Then I saw something in the road and pulled over. "What is it mom?"
"I think it's a blandings turtle." I moved picked him up and moved him out of the road so it didn't get hit. With good timing too, 30 seconds later he could have been flattened by a fast-passing truck. He sure was a beautiful turtle. "Can we keep him?"
Why did I know she'd ask that.
"Nope. This is a protected turtle and this is his home."

At nest 3, Victory Bell was up on the nest and the clouds were huge and full of pink hues. They were breath-taking. I posed Em in front of them and shot a few pictures of her holding another monarch caterpillar find. One of her monarch caterpillars changed into a chrysalis, and at the same time, a second one hanging died.

As I changed their cage this morning I watched as two grubs crawled out of the upside down caterpillar's body and dropped into the towel at the bottom of the cage where they pupated. This was the caterpillar that we found by nest 3 that had two black scars on its side. I figured that a wasp or insect had laid their eggs inside it.

The parasite eats the host until the day the stop eating and as they try to change either into their chrysalis or spin their cocoon--out crawls the parasite to go on to the next stage of their life cycle. I have seen this hundreds of times in my life.
Hundreds of times while the caterpillar is trying to spin or turn into their pupated stage.

Today was the first time I photographed it happening.

Then as we were heading of to the truck I noticed a dragonfly sitting low on a grass blade, "Em come see this dragonfly," I called out.

I shot a couple pictures, and as she came running, I said, "Look at that--he only has three wings. The forth one is curled up."

"Oh the poor thing. Why is his wing like that mommy?"

"My guess is he wasn't able to pump his wings when he hatched, he must have been interrupted, or maybe he was injured as a nymph and the wing never developed properly." I reached my finger down to the dragonfly who had a million eyes on me and surprisingly, he stepped up onto my finger. "It looks like you have your pet dragonfly, if you'll take him and take care of him."

"He flew, barely, to Em and he has been by her almost all night. He was grateful for the drinks of water and the small bite of meat we gave him. Dragonflies capture their prey in mid-air, so getting him to feed by hand, is crucial for his survival.

I'm looking forward to day 166.

See you on the journey--


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