After the over-long, cold and snowy Winter and chilly Spring, I know I did state on the record that I would not complain about any Summer heat wave. Alas, I have broken that promise several times over.
The weather the last four or five days has been downright oppressive. When I stepped out of the house for my walk, it was 73 degrees with high humidity once again. It felt more like the Dog Days of August. Whew!
Tomorrow, not surprisingly, the atmosphere is unstable due to the dregs of Tropical Storm Alberto and our intense heat, and we’re looking at torrential rainstorms and the threat of severe weather; even the word “tornado” is being bandied about.
I returned to Council Point Park today and had not been there since last Friday due to Saturday’s rain and exploring other venues the rest of the long holiday. There were a few walkers on the path, and even a few runners, huffing and puffing along when they whizzed past me. I did not intend to move that fast, I was just there for to get three loops done, and with my walk to and from the Park, thus garner another five miles toward my final goal.
I believe this heat and humidity has similarly affected the critters at Council Point Park, because the squirrels did not come over for our morning meet-and-greet ritual until my third time around that loop … hmmm, so what’s up with these slackers? But, when about a half-dozen of them finally spied me, they soon were scampering over to get some peanuts dropped at their feet, like they were princes.
Soon thereafter, a cardinal alighted on a low branch, eager to scam a peanut that the squirrels might have missed. But the squirrels were quick to take two peanuts at a time today, and the cardinal made three swoops, but came away empty-handed, er … beaked.
The geese were in a fractious mood this morning. I walked past several groups of them grazing near the perimeter path and there was no reaction on their part as I ambled by. But, on the third time around, when I was feeding the squirrels, (along with the cardinal and red-winged blackbird, who insist on interjecting themselves into this feeding frenzy), a goose family planted themselves on the pathway. The gander guided his family down the path in my direction. Just like yesterday, the “lead” goose took the initiative to goosestep over my way, head down, even though I had long since passed him and his mate and offspring. I ignored him as he advanced, ever closer, and then I was treated to the pink tongue and hissing and some wing flapping. It came out of the blue and I was miffed, so I moved on, because something had set him off and I didn’t want to tangle with him.
At the Park today, I checked on the status of my little robin family. This is the third robin family that I’ve followed in the month of May. You’ll recall that I’ve been monitoring this Mama Robin sitting on the nest and I was unsure if she was incubating the eggs, or protecting her babies with her body.
I monitored that nest every time I walked at the Park, though the branch where this twiggy home tweet home nest was built, was a tad taller than me, necessitating my needing to stand on tiptoes if I wanted to catch a glimpse of what was going on inside the nest, (and, that was only if Mama was out foraging for food for the youngsters).
At the tail end of last week, I discovered the hatch had indeed occurred, and I was treated to the sight of several tiny beaks pointing toward the sky as the babies awaited Mama Robin’s return with grubs and worms.
First, I must provide a brief backstory here so you know why I have entitled this blog post “Feathers and Fisticuffs”.
There is a bully bird in the Park, and more than once I have caught him chasing Mama Robin off the nest. He came over and swooped dangerously close to Mama, then she retaliated with a flurry of her wings and some loud chattering, to which that red-winged blackbird responded in kind. They even continued their argument on another branch, facing off against one another, each one puffed up in fighting stance. I’ve come upon this confrontation twice, and the second time I managed to get photos of the fight, though admittedly, they are not close-up because the fracas began and ended in less than a minute and my camera was in its pouch at the onset of the fray.
Last Friday when these photos were taken, once again I neared the tree where the nest is located and saw the chicks but no Mama near the brood. This was because she and the red-winged blackbird were duking it out again. They were noisy and much wing fluttering had ensued. Another robin appeared on the scene and there were two robins and the ornery red-winged blackbird, each puffed up and each very vocal. I decided to referee and threw some peanuts onto the ground, whereupon the red-winged blackbird, decided peanuts were preferable to misappropriating a robin chick and he flew to the ground to feast on them.
Whew! I felt like I saved the day.
Meanwhile, the chicks were cheeping and peeping for their Mama and she had just undergone a harrowing experience, but, being the ever-protective mom, she hurried over to the nest, checked on her chicks, then flew off, returning a few minutes later with food for the brood. Evidently, Mama Robin felt confident the pesky red-winged blackbird had fled the scene, clasping not one, but two peanuts in its sharp beak, and he would not return.
The sun was filtering through the trees and illuminating the chicks in the nest, making their still undeveloped features look almost translucent.
Below are a few photos of Mama Robin getting food, then feeding her young – I know you’ll enjoy them as much as I did watching them.
I stood and watched Mama Robin fly off to find some food. When she returned, first, she’d land on a branch, then proceed to the nest with a mouthful of wiggly worm or squirming bug.
Once at the nest, she’d drop that morsel into one eagerly awaiting mouth, then fly off to find food for the next hungry chick.
I’m glad these sweet chicks did not meet their fate due to the bully red-winged blackbird. Mama made sure to nip that in the bud!