Sunday, February 24, 2013

Feb 22, 2013: Erv's Field Notes #53

Thousands of geese come back to the south lake each night around sundown - almost all at once. It is a sight, and sound, to behold. 2/23/13 (Kevin Kane).
See the video here.

Catching Up

I have not had time to visit the park very much the last couple of weeks and I have been in arrears in writing field notes. So, I will report on a few odds and end observations and events. A while back, as I was walking along the path along the west side of the south lake, I saw a large deer running down the path towards Errington’s rock. It stopped and looked at me briefly before proceeding across the dry wetland to the west of where I was standing. Because of its size, I believe it was a male that had dropped its antlers. All members of the deer family, including elk and moose, drop their antlers in the winter and grow new ones in the spring. I have occasionally found these old antlers laying in the woods but they don’t last long. It is thought that mice and other critters consume them as a source of calcium. Animals growing new ones are said to be in velvet.

As I proceeded along the path whence the deer had come, I saw four does head out across the ice on the west arm of the lake. They were in single file and the last one in line was walking on three legs. Its right hind leg was deformed or injured. When they reached the far shore they all broke into a run. Surprisingly, the three-legged one was able to keep up with the three deer in front of her.

Trumpeter swans have been coming to the lake off and on all month. Usually there are 10 Trumpeters but a friend reported seeing 22 one morning. Wolf Oesterreich reports the following: Late this afternoon (2/21), before the snowfall, there were 30 Trumpeter Swans present on the south lake. Twenty-one were adults, with the rest being immatures (1st Winter). This is the highest number of Trumpeters I've observed at the Park. One of the adults had an orange wing tag (left wing). Also present on the open water were Greater White-fronted Geese (6+), Ross's Goose (1 adult white), Canada Geese, Cackling Geese, Mallards, Common Goldeneye (3♂ + 1♀), and Common Merganser (1♂). Two Bald Eagles (1 adult + 1 immature) circled above for several minutes.

I have noticed that flocks of geese can be seen flying over town more frequently the last few days. Food is becoming scarce for them as the waste grain in the crop fields gets eaten up. They are probably having to search more for food, especially when snow covers the ground. Another reason for these flights is zugenruhe, or migratory restlessness. It won’t be long until the wintering flock leaves our area and heads north. The smaller Cackling Goose will travel beyond the Arctic Circle.

Wolf Oesterreich has observed a blue neckband with white letters on a Canada Goose among the wintering flock at the park. He reports that the neckband (346A) that we both saw on February 13 was a female, banded on 5 July 2005 (too young to fly when banded), 7 miles west of Ogema, Minnesota, by wildlife biologist, Douglas E. McArthur (White Earth Reservation).

On February 19, I presented a talk on “Dragonflies and Damselflies of Ada Hayden Heritage Park” to the Iowa Chapter, The Wildlife Society, at their annual meeting. This talk is a compilation of 6 years of surveys conducted by Wolf and me. We now have a list of 20 damselfly species and 30 dragonfly species identified at the park. If anyone has a group that would be interested in seeing this presentation, please let me know.
The city has removed a small grove of Siberian elm trees on the north side of the park at our request. This species is an aggressive invasive tree that has been spreading rapidly in the park. Friends of Hayden Park has purchased 700 plants of a variety of wildlife food species that will replace these trees. We will organize a work day in April, hope you can help us plant.

Erv Klaas

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