2010-03-15 Holland Ponds: 3:45-5:45 pm, sunny, mid-50 degrees
Judy and I went to Holland Ponds enroute to a grocery store we learned had a special hopper machine for recycling aluminum cans. Cool! We dropped in a bag, and it fed them through a machine and gave a receipt! Much faster and less messy for us than the normal single-feed machines! (Hollywood Market on Auburn in Shelby Twp). They also have a great "chicken meatloaf" (that no one makes meatloaf from) in the meat department - just fry up some patties! Good stuff!
Anyway, on to birding. (Pics to be posted later, story now...)
The best catch at Holland Ponds today was getting great pics of Ring-necked Ducks. A first for here! There were four pair on "Waterfowl Pond".
When we saw the nesting Great Blue Herons (GBH) today, there were seven (six standing) on the nests. We had observed another fly off as we approached. Maybe the same eight we saw last time (reported on the birders list on 3/6/2010). After a few minutes of watching, all of the birds except one dropped down into the nests with only their heads visible. So the big question is: are they sitting on eggs already, or did they just get tired of standing? I suspect the former. Today there were birds on all five of the larger nests where we saw the most activity last year. The nests look like they survived the winter intact! These birds are amazing architects and engineers - especially considering that they only have long bills (and "bird brains") as the implements to design, procure and build things!!! These nests have withstood winter's ravages of snow, ice, and unbuffered high winds! Forget the Army Corps of Engineers - hire a GBH!
Kingfisher - 1 (Busy - rattling around Waterfowl Pond and flying through forest areas east and west)
Red-winged Blackbirds - at least 6
Robin - at least 2
Mallards (mostly paired) - 14
Canada Geese - 12 (honking, pairing, claiming the good spots - a wonderful noise!) Last year and now I always think of the starting words of Steinbeck's Cannery Row! This excitement will only get louder and more wonderfully noisy for awhile! John Steinbeck began his story this way: "Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light... a nostalgia, a dream." (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1252560)
(BTW, I was fortunate in patterning my life after "Doc" and actually living it in California for a decade or more! Yes! I miss the ocean!)
Blue Jays - Several
Starlings - 7
Goldfinch - 1 seen, others heard
Mourning Dove - 1
Ring-Billed Ducks - four pairs in "Waterfowl Pond" -a first at Holland for us!
As we were leaving Holland Ponds, we met John and his wife with an amazing dog "Dingo" (yes, on a leash! - so many Holland Pond visitors think it is their God-given right - or something - to allow dogs to run free -impacting not only us humans with their crap but also greatly disturbing the nature park residents!). He introduced himself to me as John, and I replied "Bob". He asked if I were "Dr. Bob". "Yes". Well, it "made" Judy's day! (OK, mine as well...). Judy is just fascinated that people we do not know seem to know me through my blog and postings on the birder's list! It's just fun! She always writes down the encounters in her journal!
I was so impressed with the markings and behavior of John's dog (Australian Blue Heeler, Australian Cattle Dog) I looked it up. The best pic matching the dog we saw is at :
"Dingo" is a lovely coarse-haired, beautifully-colored dog (including some underside "rufus" coloring I normally associate only with birds) and Dingo was perfectly wonderful - even when an unleashed dog and owner went by. Well trained! Yes, a dog is what the owners train it to be! I am not a "dog person", but encounters like this make me wonder if I could be. Judy loves most dogs but in our condo it would be a great injustice for a dog like this!
Oh, am I rambling? Well I guess you probably knew that this is what I do before you clicked the link!
John mentioned that he had shot a pair of Hooded Mergansers and (significantly!) a pair of "courting" Kingfishers at Waterfowl Pond recently this year. He observed the Kingfishers together in two places at the pond. (Geez! It is hard to see one, much less two together! Cool!)
Yes! We love Holland Ponds. They are close for a spur of the moment trip to get outdoors, and we started watching them last year thanks to Jan and the birders list. And, I think it is really important to watch a few specific sites through the whole year to really understand them. We have met several birders who do this at different spots. Please continue to do so and share your insights!
No Tree Swallows or Bluebirds or warblers yet. They will come soon!