Friday, May 01, 2009

Fledging!

As I prepare for our last Ornithology class field trip tomorrow, Karyn and I headed out to check on the Mallard chicks in the upper Hull's Grove pond. Last weekend we observed a female Mallard escorting her 12 chicks over to the water. Yesterday we could only find six chicks remaining. I have been documenting them in my field journal that is due to be turned in on Tuesday. We thought we would go check out the ducks to see if there was anything new to write about.

On the way there we passed the Great Horned Owl nest. We looked in but didn't see any chicks. Their cave goes into the sandstone rock quite a ways and they are sometimes out of sight. We couldn't see them at all. We then noticed the two adults perched in a tree where we usually do not see them. Something was up. Following their gaze, we found the three chicks in some nearby sage brush.

Great Horned Owl chick.

Other two Great Horned Owl Chicks.

I hope they move to higher ground before any predators come out tonight.

Moving on to the upper pond, we could only find five of the original 12 Mallard Chicks. Its possible that there are more in the reeds. The chicks are using the entire pond and are getting around quite well. It only takes them 30 seconds or so to get to the other side. We watched as they rushed through the water in pursuit of prey.

Mallard chick.

I looked up from my vantage point to a female Red-winged Blackbird. I realized that I must be a bit too close to her nest. I decided to retreat and leave her in peace.

Tomorrow promises to be a great field trip to Centennial Marsh.



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