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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Kingfisher Chatter

(a blog about Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge)

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Click on the photos below for larger views

20 Dec 2013

My Refuge is snow covered and very interesting now. 

By the footbridge on Winterberry Way the water was alive with tadpoles and even small Blue-gill sunfish.  The tadpoles were very large (~4 In. in length) so it is suspected they are Bull Frog.   Some tadpoles will go two to three years before their metamorphosis.  There are many factors including water temperature, oxygenation, food availability, overcrowding, to name a few.  As the ice gets thicker and oxygen levels drop there may be mass mortalities as evidenced last winter.  But for now they are wriggling and providing me (Kingfisher) and cousin Heron with a ready food source.   Yum!

Figure 3b    Here is a magnified view of one of the tadpoles from photo 3A.  A polarizing filter would have helped
The Bald-faced Hornet’s nest that was photographed last summer and again in the fall (after being ravaged by critter(s) unknown), is now further torn apart. The comb center is now clearly visible in the photo below:

There are still plenty of other signs of life around me as evidenced by all the imprints and scat in the snow.

Great Blue Heron tracks were seen on the ice on either side of Otter Alley.

Two Herons were spotted.  One flew off and landed  behind the cattails.  One of the Herons can be seen If you look closely at the annotated picture below:

There was a dead Blue Jay on the trail near the footbridge on Taylor Way.  It had but one leg.  There were no signs of a struggle (neither loose feathers nor blood).   It is suspected that the leg was missing well before it died.

There’s a new bench by the footbridge on Taylor Way.  Hurray!  This is one of the most interesting wildlife watching areas on the refuge.  It is tied with Otter Alley for the best birding throughout the year.  It’ll be a nice place for breakfast, lunch or snack while watching nature.  Please pack out what you pack in!  Keep my refuge litter free. 
There were very few ducks seen.  Generally this time of year they hang out in the open water in the marsh between Taylor Way and Otter Alley.  Only Canada Geese were seen there this time.  Numerous duck did fly by but none landed in the open waters within the marsh.

Here is a complete list of birds seen/heard:
  • Blue Jays (Winterberry Way & Taylor Way)
  • Canada Geese (marsh between Otter Alley and Taylor Way)
  • Great Blue Herons (Otter Alley)
  • Eastern Phoebe (Taylor Way near footbridge)
  • Goldfinch (Taylor Way near footbridge)
  • Cedar Waxwing (Taylor Way near footbridge)
  • Sparrows (spp?)  in thicket and unable to identify
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • Pileated Woodpecker (heard drumming...not seen (Taylor Way near footbridge)
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker (Otter Alley)
  • Mallards (fly-by only above Taylor Way footbridge) 
  • Flycatcher (sp?) (yellowish breast.  Too distant to identify or photograph)
  • Northern Cardinal
Hope to see you on the Refuge and wishing everyone a very happy and healthy 2014!

                  - The Kingfisher