Wildlife Odds and Ends

I walk often, usually traveling short distances on local trails. Late Spring is a wonderful time to do this because there’s so much going on in the world of wildlife.

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Wildlife populations are approaching their annual peak as new recruits arrive daily!

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Juvenile Red Squirrel

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Goslings

Songbirds are in various stages of nesting: some are building nests, some are sitting on eggs, some are feeding young. Regardless of the species, males can usually be heard singing on the nesting territories.

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Chestnut-sided Warbler above a dense thicket of shrubs and young trees

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Great Crested Flycatcher nesting in a “Bluebird” box (1 of 3)

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Reptiles and amphibians have come alive in the summer-like heat. This American Toad has claimed my compost pile as home.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Families of Geese

My initial post on a family of geese featured fuzzy little goslings exploring a brave new world in the shadow of their parents (“Geese, Geese and More Geese” on May 24).

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Three weeks later I discovered another, larger family (parents and 8 goslings) loafing and feeding along the shore of a private pond. The goslings are growing like weeds, but still cute, comical and irresistible!

One of the few times that I intentionally went for a butt shot!

I think I know who will be the lead bird when the flock flies in formation

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Geese, Geese and More Geese: Goslings!

Canada Geese mate for life and, for the pairs that nested successfully, the 25 – 28 day incubation period is over. There are downy little goslings everywhere. Within a couple of days of hatching they can walk, swim, dabble and eat. Amazing. On land, they motor along, tripping, stumbling, stabbing and pecking like little wind-up toys. The parents are never far away and guard the kids aggressively.

Goose family; shallow, swampy headwaters of Eaton Brook Reservoir; 1 of 4

Goose family; on full alert, with aggressive posturing, due to my presence; swampy headwaters of Leland Pond; 1 of 2

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Kids Rule!

In the animal world, late spring is all about raising kids and perpetuating the species. Parents (one or both) are driven to feed, guide, teach and protect their offspring, regardless of the conditions or the associated risks. The large number of animals, naive-te of the young and constant activity of the adults opens a window of opportunity for viewing wildlife that is unprecedented in the annual cycle. That said, sightings can still be extremely challenging when dense vegetation and the need to minimize human disturbance are factored into the equation.

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One of several Tree Swallows that dive-bombed me when I got too close to a nest box full of youngsters

I’ve captured a sample of this exciting season, sometimes by design, more often by accident, and will share the joy!

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Canada Geese, mother and goslings, on a small stream

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Young Cottontail Rabbit

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Great Crested Flycatcher with a bug for the kids to fight over; she fed her young dragonflies, moths and caterpillars while I watched

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Immature Red Squirrel (i of 2)

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Wild Turkey hen loudly and aggressively defending a brood too young to run or fly (1 of 2)

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Hen turkey feigning injury and circling at a distant of about 25 meters, attempting to draw me away from her brood (which I didn’t pursue in the dense vegetation)

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White-tailed Deer fawn, about a week old, instinctively laying low and motionless, for better or worse; I was 2 meters away

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Most does are bred in November and give birth in late May and early June; this fawn may be 2-3 weeks old and reaching an age where running to avoid a threat is possible

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Despite the size difference, these fawns are probably twins

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.