July 6 – Birds, Critters and Fluffy Stuff

Yesterday I went to Potter Marsh.

As I expected, the young Arctic Tern had disappeared. What I did not expect, though, was the disappearance of all of the Arctic Terns. I’m not sure whether they were just temporarily off somewhere else or whether they are really gone. It was interesting that the sign upon which an adult Arctic Tern was usually to be found lately was yesterday occupied by a Mew Gull.

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There was only a single Arctic Tern at Westchester Lagoon today. The Mew Gulls are still around in large numbers, including the young one at Westchester Lagoon shown below.

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There were still young Violet-green and Tree Swallows at Potter Marsh, and various ducklings, mostly Mallards.

Today I first drove up Arctic Valley Road. Along the road I noticed my first blooming fireweed of the year, the dwarf variety I believe.

Although the numbers of singing birds has decreased, most species of warblers and sparrows were still represented by at least one singer. Shown is a Yellow Warbler (front and back view of same bird).

There also was a single Bald Eagle that remained on the same perch from the beginning of my drive to the end of it.

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Along the road “critters” (various small mammals) were more visible than birds. They included many (over 10) hares along the drive up and at least 6 arctic ground squirrels (I believe that’s their name), plus a few red squirrels (not shown).

After Arctic Valley I went over to Westchester Lagoon to check on the Red-necked Grebes. Today in addition to the family that seems to regularly hang out at the west end of the lake, there was another two-chick family near the island (and probably more chicks farther out that I did not see). The parents of the west-end family were both diving for food and feeding the now half-grown young. The first video below shows the young take off rapidly away from one parent toward the other parent (not in the photo.

My final photos at Westchester were of a White-crowned Sparrow that was just chipping a bit and then ogling some unknown thing in the spruce branches.

So – the fluffy stuff. For days now white fluffy stuff has been drifting out of the sky and landing in our yard. Most of the time it looks like a midsummer snow storm. I thought it might be coming from some neighborhood cottonwoody thing, but I found out today that it is very widespread, all the way up the mountain, fluffing up the roadsides. I am definitely no tree expert, but it appears to be coming from willows or willow-type trees. Words of wisdom are welcomed.





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