Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Life

We had a great Easter lunch, and then decided to go out to see how the spring 'resurrection' was doing. We headed for Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton, to look for signs of life.

No sign of any of the migratory birds today. Still just a little too early. But we did see a lot of the usual birds that stay here for the winter. They were definitely more active than I've seen them in a long time.


Nuthatches, hunting for food upside down,

and Tufted Titmice...

...all flocked around the same trees and bird feeders set up near the Nature Center building.

We proceeded on the trail, past this compost exchange, which had some fresh material on top.

On to the meadow nearby; all was quiet, no birds occupying the many houses set up for them, yet. In a few short weeks the air above this meadow will be buzzing with Eastern Bluebirds and Tree Swallows, streaking about.

We moved on to the waterside which is usually 'marshy', but is swollen right now, and looks more like a wide river.

There, we saw a pair of Common Mergansers.

They're called 'Common' Mergansers, but I rarely see them. They were doing an odd thing: The female would lay her head flat on the water, appearing to play dead. The male then would swim circles around it, and begin to swim away. The Female, head still flat on the water, would then follow closely behind. It almost looked like the male was towing the female about. Then, the male would occasionally push his body up and appear to stand on his rump in the water. The whole thing must have been some kind of mating ritual.

As we walked about, we debated what was causing the leaves to sink into the ice and leave an impression.

I said it was the heat of the sun warming the leaves enough to melt the ice beneath them. Kelly thought it might be the heat of decomposition of the dead leaf, much like the compost pile we passed created some heat. Chris thought as ice melted and refroze each day and night, the leaf would sink a little lower. Hmmm.

But then this beaver got our attention, and we forgot about the debate and edged closer to the water for a good look.

One last wildlife sighting as we were leaving; a family of Hooded Mergansers, (cousins of the Common Mergansers) paddled past, on the fringes of melting ice.

Easter came early this year, I hope the warm weather follows suit...

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