Life at Boomer Lake with Deb, Saturday April 14, 2012
Weatherwise, this was a very cloudy and windy week at Boomer Lake Park. It was almost unsettling, as you could almost feel something ominous in the air with the way that the clouds were roiling and darkening constantly. Luckily, no weather erupted upon me while I was out collecting data and photos for you, dear readers.
The Week's Events
Sunday brought a lovely Brown Thrasher, who I discovered hunting for insects. They have an assortment of beautiful sounds, and it is hard to imagine that so many lovely, diverse sounds come from one bird. At first, I thought the sound was that of a mockingbird, and I was pleasantly surprised. I discovered three baby killdeer from another clutch, and managed to get a picture of one with a parent, so you can get an idea on a relative size. Their habits are to scatter in all different directions when they feel threatened. The family moved on right after this discovery. The eggs that I have been watching are still unhatched.
Brown Thrasher Songs by cfields7
The goslings are now 5 days old on Monday, and they’re growing right on schedule. At this young age, they eat constantly, as they burn energy quickly and have a high metabolism. In 5 days, it looked like they had doubled in size. The lake was also host to some visiting Blue Winged and Cinnamon Teals, all absolutely gorgeous birds.
On Tuesday, I found a beautiful Northern Flicker searching for ants. If it wasn’t for that characteristic flash of red, I would have missed him. There is also a second set of three more new goslings, and those proud parents have also left Goose Island for a new home. It is easier for them to raise their respective young in their own space. Many male geese will kill goslings if given the opportunity, so it is wise to live in this way. The Brown Headed Cowbirds have also arrived and are in full force, and will soon be looking for nests to deposit their eggs. These birds just lay eggs and allow some other bird to raise the young. The Red-Bellied Woodpeckers have been at the nest on the north side of the park for two days now, but I am not speaking in a definitive way. I have seen how European Starlings behave, and chances are still very good that they are still trying to take possession of this hole for their own nest.
Wednesday proved to be a day with another large gosling family of eight. At this stage, I really am not able to keep track of any other families. The large family does have help provided by what appears to be single females. They have been staying back from the family somewhat and watching for what they might perceive to be hidden dangers. It seems to work out very well for the parents to have what appears to be self-appointed nannies.
Thursday, the European Starlings were back inside the woodpecker nest. I don’t know how these two species plan to possibly share this residence, but they have been doing so thus far. Eventually, one of them will have to leave, as eggs will be lain fairly soon. The House Sparrows are still cohabitating well with the Purple Martins and Chimney Swifts. The swifts never stay still unless it is time to raise young, otherwise they are constantly on the go.
Friday, I saw a juvenile American Coot all by himself! He’s a lovely shade of gray with a black head and has a black stripe across his bill. I also gave myself the opportunity to visit the northern end of the park for the first time. There are lots of birds in the thick woods, but the only ones that I was able to see were Northern Cardinals, who stick out like the proverbial sore thumb with that red countenance. I saw numerous butterflies, and when I crossed the bridge, it was like a totally different land. There were broad fields with lots of interesting wildflowers. I also caught a glimpse of some kind of hawk, but I was unable to get a good enough view to let you know what kind it was.
As most of you likely know, a tornado came rather close to the area at around 2:30 this morning, so it was a rude awakening for me. At 8:00 a.m., I was able to get out to check to see if any birds may have been blown off course, if we had any new visitors as a result of this tornado aftermath. Firstly, all the goslings are all right, no harm came to them with the high winds and heavy rains. I did discover that the lake was peppered with hundreds of Blue Winged Teals, Northern Shovelers, Ruddy Ducks, American Coots, Double-Crested Cormorants, and Laughing Gulls. I battled 30-35 mph winds around the lake to check on the birds and survey the damage, which was actually quite minimal. It looks like Boomer Lake actually has a proper water level now, as a result of last night’s rains. The only smaller birds in the area today were American Robins, Great Tailed Grackles, Chimney Swifts, Purple Martins, Northern Mockingbirds, Red-Winged Blackbirds, and Scissor-Tailed Flycatchers.