Tuesday, March 16, 2010
View From the Swamp: Turf Wars and Can You Help With an ID?
After a long winter, I finally ventured down to the swamp to see what changes may have taken place. Last year brought drastic changes to my entrance to the swamp as the ice storm brought down many trees. The deer had remained active, although some of their paths have been re-routed. The swamp is still under cover of ice! Usually it is mostly thawed out by now, but with the weather forecasters calling for temps in the 60's the next three or four days with mostly sunshine, it should be thawing quite nicely. The geese are back and two pair are already battling over this prime real estate. I have seen one pair nest year after year, but never any goslings. It was quite the scene. First insults were muttered and then hurled across the swamp. Then it grew quiet. The male of the pair in the top picture started to make his way across the ice, toward the rock. The female was much slower following him, gently placing each foot on the ice. She'd stop by openings in the ice to get a drink. The two eventually made it across to the rock and were settling onto the ice nearby. Suddenly there was much "yelling," and the male went right up to the other pair to challenge them. When there is no ice on the swamp, the splashing is what captures your attention, as the geese fly at each other beating their wings and land with big spalshes. With the ice cover, it is the beating of the wings that is thunderously loud! It went on for a short while, one pair retreating just a smidge, the other pair returning to the ice around the rock.
As if that weren't enough, I heard a song bird I have not heard before. Just the most gently sound, at first it made me think of kittens, but then I realized it was getting louder. In an instant, two raptors on silent wings landed in a tree top next to me. A third tried to land but the branch gave way, breaking off and landing with a splash in the swamp. All three flew out of site. Did I get a picture??? No. Can I identify them?....No. They were very light, a lot of white from what I remember, the striping underneath as they flew away. They were not big, I wouldn't say even crow sized, maybe. Their voicing was not something I've ever heard and not what I would ever associate with a hawk. Anybody out there who can help with such a pathetic description??