Sunday, April 18, 2010
Swans and hawks and egrets, oh my!
Well, as you can see, we got a much better of the snowy egret today. He was standing right by the Lullwater edge, hanging out with a giant turtle, enjoying the sun. Ber got this picture. I kept trying to adjust the light meter on my camera, and by the time I was ready he (assuming it is a he) had flown away. It's a good thing there are two of us trying to capture the sights. We also saw one of the swans in that area. This was good - he's been kind of MIA lately. Still hoping he's looking after a nest nearby, but no sign of it.
Just realized that if you click on a picture it gets larger - and you can really see the egret clearly!
The Nethermead was closed to dogs because of the big "Run for the Water." A concert stage, booths, etc., were set up. A raccoon had decided to lay down and die right outside the rent-a-fence they had put up, so we notified a park person. I offered to pick it up if the park person had a bag and gloves, but she said no - an official person would get it. Ber wrote the the Parks Dept. about it. He had done this a couple of weeks ago, when we spotted another dead raccoon. we want to know why it dies, since there have been vague rumors of rabid raccoons. There was no answer at all the first time. I wonder if two dead raccoons will get their attention?
Princess Swan and the Knight of the 1,000 Swans took over to one of the trees that had blown down in the storm. Half the tree was cut up, but the other half is still standing, albeit at a steep angle right over the new playground. You don't have to be a fear-monger to be concerned. The roots look quite shallow, and intertwined with years of trash and plastic bags.
It was cool today, but the sun was shining. Perfect weather for the runners. I think it was a fund-raising run because they only went around once. The serious races make several loops of the 3 mile circular park road.
By the way, Cayuga and entourage are VERY HAPPY with the new wood-chip mulch on the shoreline. It certainly looks far cozier than the hard p[an underneath. No more eggs. I really will take one if I see another one - they aren't being sat upon to hatch as it is. Actually, no one remembers any baby ducklings from last year. They need parental training. Maybe they've forgotten how to nest? Is life too good in a city park?
Of course we did our usual check on the nesting pair of swans. The higher water level makes the nest look bigger - sitting above the water line. Both parents were very close - mom in her nest, pop right there. She seemed to be fussing a lot. We wonder if the cygnets are close to hatching. Perhaps. There was a large hawk in a tree nearby. We're pretty sure it was a hawk. Tried to get photos, but my zoom lens isn't strong enough. It flew off, and the wingspread was DEFINITELY hawk-like. Good thing papa the protector is nearby.
Here's some research about swans: "Swans are the largest and the most beautiful of large waterfowl. The Mute Swan is one of 7 species of swan worldwide. Adult females weigh around 20 lbs. with males around 25 lbs. Average. Weights of up to 38 lbs. have been recorded.
Swans are found in low lying wetland areas of the northeastern Atlantic coast and the Great Lakes. They breed at 3 years of age having a clutch of from 3 to 8 eggs. The gestation period is 35 days from the date of the last egg. During the incubation period the male becomes very territorial and will aggressively protect his mate. He will normally use his strong wings as a weapon instead of biting.
The cygnets are born with a gray downy plumage that eventually turns to white. They can fly in 3 to 4 months and generally stay with the parents until the next breeding season.
Mute Swans have been known to live for over 25 years, but most only survive to 5 or 6 years old. "