Saturday, September 29, 2012

A surprise, an observance, and a chuckle

After a nice string of incredibly beautiful sunny fall days, I awoke to cloudy threatening skies this morning.  That was okay though since I had to work the Pea Island VC today.  I’d much rather have gorgeous weather on my days off.  It is interesting how the weather effects visitation at the two VCs.  On Pea Island, more folks seem to stop in on sunny days when they’re on their way to the beach.  At Gateway, we seem to have our biggest crowds when it’s raining.  Go figure…

69  Pea Island & Alligator River NWRs  201221

The relatively low human turn out at Pea Island today allowed me plenty of time to monitor the activity at the bird feeders which are visible through the pond facing picture windows.  I was surprised to see this unusual looking fellow.  I’m going to call it a partial albino, adult male red-winged blackbird.  I know partial albino is not the correct term, but the scientific name for this abnormality of scattered white feathering just seems to not be rolling off my tongue or fingertips this evening.  Thinking smile


Near the bird feeders is also an automatically filled bird bath.  I’m going to guess that what you see in this photo differs from what I observe.  To some people, it will be four birds at a birdbath.  To others it might be three boat-tailed grackles and a female cowbird at a bird bath.  To me, it is the latter observation, but I also noted that two of the grackles are in the middle of their yearly molt of tail feathers.  Most adult birds renew all of their feathers each late summer or early fall, and that molt, or renewal, is often done in matching pairs of feathers on each side of the bird.  If you think about it, it is really quite fascinating.  By the end of the nesting season each year their feathers are worn and frayed, and they certainly need a new set to be able to carry on with either migration or keeping themselves warm in the upcoming winter.  Kind of like buying a new winter coat or some new outfits for a vacation in the south.  Rolling on the floor laughing  (I know this may be TMI for some folks, but you have to understand that I’m a bird nerd.  Not an expert, mind you, but a nerd just the same.)


Then this afternoon, the raccoon made an appearance and brought two youngsters with her.  The young ones were a little shy and skittish to begin with, but soon adjusted.


That’s mom on the right, and one of the youngsters on the left.  Mom was all about eating seeds, but her children were all about exploring and having fun. 


I just couldn’t help but chuckle at their antics.  I tried to put the pics of them into a collage, but as some of you may know, when you do that it crops your photos to fit and sometimes that doesn’t work out.  So I’m just going to show each one separately. 


At one point, this little guy grabbed a hold of mom’s tail, and she dragged him around on his back as she searched for more seeds to eat.


                                                        What a grand time they had exploring.


Then the skies opened up, and they all headed into hiding.  I think they’re cute little bandits as long as they stay away from my feeders!  They sure helped pass the time for me on a slow day at work.  It’s not really work, but you know what I mean.


                                                                              THE END!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy