Wild Wednesday … Have You Herd?

The deer that live around the mill always converge on the hayfield behind the log deck in the fall and winter. This year I’ve counted as many as twenty at a time. I’ve accumulated some photos over the last few months. Typically, I’m not very close so the pictures are a little soft. They just went through the rut and the bucks will soon shed their antlers. Click on a picture to enlarge the gallery.

Wild Wednesday … Birds of the Mill Pond

The mill pond, also known as the otter pond, is visited by various birds all year long. This was a snapshot of the visitors one day in November.

Wild Wednesday … Otters and Goldens

My very good friends Jan and Chris requested otters for this weeks Wild Wednesday. So that’s what they get, otters! Plus as a bonus, Golden Retrievers, since they have a pack of goldens of their own.

 

 

Wild Wednesday …Osprey Update

osprey

One of the remaining osprey keeps watch from a nearby oak tree.

The surviving ospreys have seemed to rally this week after the helicopter incident I blogged about last week, Wild Wednesday … A Death In The Family. For most of the week only one young osprey was in the nest. It occasionally left, but would return later. It sat in the nest calling for food.

osprey

The young osprey waits.

After a few days, I saw the second young bird return. Then both called.

osprey, fishing, fish hawk

The other young osprey awkwardly comes in for a landing.

osprey

Waiting patiently for breakfast.

Eventually, I saw the parent osprey. She came in with a fish for the young birds, but didn’t give it to them. She flew to the edge of the tower and started calling the fledglings. When the youngster moved toward her, she lifted off and flew up river. She was training her young fish hawks.

osprey, fishing

She brings in a fish for teasing her youngsters into following her. Her behavior has inspired my confidence in their future success.

After examining the photos I took of the dead osprey, I’m pretty sure it was the male bird that was struck by the helicopter blade. Now, mother osprey soldiers on. No news yet on the Fish and Wildlife warden’s investigation.

Wild Wednesday … A Death in the Family

osprey, nesting, helicopter

This osprey put it all on the line defending its young, and paid for it.

Sorry, no wildflowers this week, only a sad story.  If you’ve followed my blog for a while you may have seen some of my posts about the ospreys that nest and raise their young on a large electrical tower at our mill site. The tower, perched near the Sacramento River, overlooks prime fishing habitat. These birds are practically mascots for our operation. Almost without fail ospreys raise two offspring in the tower nest every year and have done so for decades.

osprey, bird strike, osprey nest

The osprey family 2015, just a week before the tragic incident.

However, a week ago last Monday, while in our office we heard the sound of a low-flying helicopter. This isn’t unusual except for the helicopter wasn’t just flying over. It was lingering. I strained to look out my window to see the helicopter, but it was just out of sight on the north side of the office. My window faces west. Then I saw an osprey buffeted by the rotor wash being blown off to the southwest. Next, a large bird wing fluttering to the ground outside my window. That got me out of my office and headed for the north end of the building. When I made it outside, the helicopter was gone. One of our foresters, our lead research scientist and her assistant met me. Our scientist was extremely agitated and told us the helicopter had struck one of the ospreys. As we walked out into the parking lot, the mill superintendent walked out from the opposite side and yelled to us. Then he reached under one of the pickups and pulled out the body of the dead osprey. He informed us that a number of the mill workers had seen the incident and were just about in tears. Fortunately, our research scientist got the aircraft identification numbers.

The osprey was cut to pieces defending it's nest.

The osprey was cut to pieces defending its nest.

She recounted to us how the ospreys became agitated because the helicopter hovered so close to the nest. All four birds were at the nest, both parents and two offspring. The parents took off and were responding defensively. One of the birds began diving on the helicopter trying to drive it away from the nest. On its fourth pass at the helicopter, it was struck by the blades, severing both wings and plummeting to the ground.

talons, osprey

California Fish and Wildlife was contacted and a warden responded. He collected the remains and took statements. We are awaiting the results of the investigation.

I’ve been watching all week, hoping to see the three remaining birds at the nest. So far I’ve only seen two return, but most of the time there’s just one. Both of the offspring can fly and they come and go to the nest. Our biggest concern is that the young are unable to fish on their own. Hopefully, the remaining parent will be able to keep the youngsters fed and that this helicopter incident doesn’t result in three dead ospreys. I’ll keep you posted.

If you want to see the previously osprey post just click on the osprey tag below and they’ll come up.

Forestry Friday … Otter, Otter, Otter!

This week I’m going to lighten it up. Animals are always fun and what is more fun than a playful otter, except maybe three!

pen and ink, otter, wildlife, nature, ink, pen & ink, drawing, animals

Three otters resting on a log.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted some art. I hope you like it.

 

Otter, photography, wildlife, nature

Bookends!

These are our otters that live at the mill. They travel around the mill site from pond, to river and to canals.  I never know where they are going to pop up next.

Otter, photography, wildlife, nature

Itchy!

Otter, photography, wildlife, nature

The three amigos.

In the forest setting, otters don’t ever become an issue during our harvest operations. They live in the water and riparian area.  Harvesting is minimal in the riparian zones.

Otter, photography, wildlife, natureOtter, photography, wildlife, nature

Blitz, golden retriever, dog, photography

Blitz says, “Can’t trust em’, they remind me of cats!”