Wild Wednesday … Goose Goose!

geese, Canada geese, pen and ink, drawing

A pair of Canada Geese in pen and ink.

This was drawn from a pair of geese on the mill pond.  Canada geese are great subjects for pen and ink. They’re already black and white.

Canada Geese, honkers, photography, nature, birds, birding

Canada geese can be found on the mill site constantly.

This gaggle spotted Sailor and Bliss over on shore. They decided to come over and cause trouble for my goldens, who were minding their own business.  Typical rabble rousing degenerate geese!

Canada Geese, honkers, photography, nature, birds, birding

You had to know this would happen.

Sailor couldn’t take it anymore and swam out to say hello.  What’s a boy to do.

Canada Geese, honkers, photography, nature, birds, birding

Well this isn’t going well.

What we have here is a failure to communicate.

Wild Wednesday … Waiting For Fish

 

 

bald eagle

Scanning the Sacramento River, this bald eagle is fishing for breakfast.

I saw the eagle perched near the boat ramp scanning the river. I couldn’t get a clear picture that wasn’t full of branches. I slid down the bank next to the water. Slid being the operative word, since I almost took a morning dip. I had a clear view for this shot. The eagle never gave me a look. I wasn’t a fish!

bald eagle

Perched in the tree tops beside the river waiting for a fish.

Wild Wednesday … Quail Sentry

quail, California Valley Quail, pen and ink, pen, ink, drawing, wildlife

California Valley Quail on sentry duty.  Pen and Ink.

It’s tough being a prey item. California valley quail deal with this fact of life by having a sentry to watch over the covey. He’s not much for defending the covey, but will sound a pretty good alarm.

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.