[Tweeters] Duck Pinwheel & Last Call

notcalm at comcast.net notcalm at comcast.net
Tue Mar 27 02:25:32 PDT 2012

Fellow Tweeters,

I recently enjoyed watching Northern Shovelers at Nisqually. They do this interesting bonding/ feeding behavior that I had not previously noticed. A pair will face each other and slowly turn in a clockwise oval while feeding. They make 5-20 rotations with bills immersed, followed by head-pumping. Apparently this is not unlike phalaropes spinning for food. Cornell BOL reports that Wilson's phalarope will sometimes follow shovelers to feed on the food that presents from the disturbance.

Also present: A male Rufous Hummingbird feeding on the recent Salmon berry flowers (nice to see both again), Brown Creepers and Downy woodpeckers calling, Hooded mergansers pairing, A Canada goose female attempting to build a nest in a horizontal decaying log-chipping away (or carving a dug-out canoe); muskrat active in early evening, beaver tail-flopping; the largest sunning Turtle I have seen (a couple asked me if it was a small heron laying on a grass island and it actually appeared so when I first viewed it in the distance); large roosting flock of easily excitable Cackling geese; Bald eagles terrifying the bird locals with even a casual over-flight; a flying, small Great Egret that to two of us, for a few seconds, first appeared to be a Snowy owl, coots mowing the grass on the dike, a dozen+ Greater Yellowlegs calling and flying with a single Snipe.

Finally, the Great Horned owl fledges are flying strongly, head bobbing and begging loudly. The last thing I heard was a one startled duck or goose -an abbreviated sound of surprise and sudden end, followed by hundreds of geese flying and loudly protesting in panic in the dark. The female Owl had made a kill and fed on pond edge.

Nisqually is always interesting and beautiful and offers views of what once was usual.

Dan Reiff
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