[Tweeters] From the Fill

Connie Sidles constancesidles at gmail.com
Fri Jul 11 16:34:58 PDT 2014

Hey tweets, the Fill has been a little quiet lately. FYI, I never let myself go home until I have seen at least 30 species; today and yesterday, I thought I might have to camp overnight. However, what the Fill lacked in numbers it made up for in activity.

The Bushtits and Black-capped Chickadees have started flocking already; the young ones are quickly learning how to be a member of a foraging community. It isn't that obvious. On the one hand, you get to take advantage of the bounty that your fellow flock-members find; on the other hand, you need to reciprocate by finding a few good spots for the flock yourself. On the third hand, if you notify everyone of a hot spot right away, then you get far fewer bugs for yourself.

Another tricky subject has to do with relationships. Getting along with others is a necessary skill, but so is standing your ground. Knowing when to do which is hard, at least as confusing as trying to make light conversation at a party while also letting others talk but not too much. I'm still trying to figure that one out.

The baby Marsh Wrens are on their own now, and they are abundant. Two were taking a dust bath on the Loop Trail today. I think they must have been siblings - they certainly fought each other like my two kids used to do in the back seat of the car, pecking and pecking over a particular spot when the whole trail (or back seat) was available for the taking. This may very well have been the pair's first dust bath: they were boating around in the dirt for more than 15 minutes, and every time a jogger came by to disturb them, they would fly up to a stem, wait till the jogger was past, then go back down to the "bathtub" again.

The Wood Ducks are present in unusually high numbers, though all the males are in eclipse plumage and a little harder to see than usual. They seem to like being out and about in the early morning, after which they retire from view. A juvenile Hooded Merganser has been showing up on Main Pond for the past couple of days but won't stay unless there are other ducks to keep it company. A bedragled CANVASBACK (in eclipse?) has been hanging out in the lagoon near the crew house, an unusual sight at this time of year.

Good numbers of swallows are present, though they seem to like the early mornings best. I think we had a good year for Cliff Swallow nesting and Barn Swallows too. Birders in BC report a huge decline in swallow populations, so I'm glad we were more robust than we have been in the past three years.

Here is a poem for you today:

I joined a flock of chickadees today

foraging for bugs among the willow boughs.

They found lots. I found none.

Maybe I need more practice.

--Connie, Seattle

constancesidles at gmail.com

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