Tag Archives: Mallard

I’m Biting You in the Butt. And Other Adventures at Skansen in Stockholm.

Stockholm, as many of you know, is my former hometown. Now spending the month of July here with family and friends is a real treat. The weather is fantastic and the whole city is in ‘summer mode’. Walkers, bikers, flowers and restaurants have taken over many streets in the central parts of the city, like this one where I’m staying.

my street UD164

restaurang gatan 2 UD164The day is 18 hours long, the sun rises before 4 a.m. and goes to sleep around 10 p.m.  The picture below was taken around 10:30 p.m., just after sunset. Unfortunately this night owl is not inclined to get up early enough to offer sunrise pictures.

evening stockholm UD164There are so many places to visit, but first I wanted to go to Skansen, the world’s first and oldest open-air museum. And a place where we took numerous weekend walks when our son was small. So last Sunday my sister and I made plans to go there. I invite you to join us.

skansen tower ud166The Swedish way of life in the past is exhibited in villages of authentic old residences, farmsteads, shops, a pottery, a bakery, a bank, a post office and a large number of specialized workshops and factories, store houses and barns. These exhibitions are manned with people sporting time-typical outfits. They can tell the stories (in many languages) about life in Sweden from late 1600s to early 1900s. Please follow us to the glassblower’s workshop, where the master is working on small animals in brilliant colors. Then we’ll stop at the general store, the bakery, and the pottery still making lergods typical in Sweden in the 1800s and early 1900s.

glass blower ud166

shopkeeper ud166

bakery ud166

krukmakare ud166

krukor ud166Next, let’s take a peek into the life of middle class people at a house where the publisher and his wife lived in early to mid-1800s. Their parlor houses an old piano in a good working order and we can see the weekly magazine they published spread on the dining table. The intricate wall paper is not clued onto the walls, but as customary, it’s nailed on the walls so that should the family need to move, they could take it to their new house.

a publishers house ud166

piano at a middle class home publisher ud166

old magazine ud166The workers’ quarters are not as elaborate, many people used to live in one room in a house like this.  We can also take a peek through the door into the shopkeeper’s room adjacent to the shop.

We walk the cobblestone alleys between the old houses enjoying the beauty preserved from old times.

alley with old houses skansen ud166

window of an old house ud166Next we find a bank and a government office.

bank ud166

old house skansen ud166Skansen also houses authentic old farmsteads and typical farm animals, such as cows, pigs, goats and chicken. I focused my camera only on the smaller, more colorful animals.

old house UD166

rooster UD166

hen ud166Passing a windmill, a belfry and a traditional (now dried out) midsummer pole, we can observe a woman taking care of her cottage garden, just like women had done in the 1800s.

windmill skansen ud166

klockstapel 2 skansen ud166

midsommarstang ud166

skansen gardener ud166From there we walk to see some Nordic wildlife. The huge brown bear is bound to leave a lasting impression.

brown bear 2 skansen UD166

brown bear skansen UD166The lynx appears sweet like a house cat, but appearances can be deceiving…

Lynx at skansen ud166And at the home of the wolf, we are in for a surprise. Mama wolf has three cubs!

mama wolf UD166

a third wolf cub skansen UD166

two wold cubs skansen UD166 16x9

wolf cubs at skansen UD166We stay for a while and watch the cubs play. Luckily they have a large area to explore. Finally our feet decide it’s time for a late lunch at one of the restaurants and we round up our ‘wild tour’ by visiting the moose and the European bison.

mama moose ud166

Vicent at skansen UD166Of course we have to ‘shoot’ some birds on the way too. The Skåne geese have young goslings. (Aww). And finally we have to document the Swedish version of Mr. and Mrs. Mallard.

Canada geese ud166

gosling skansen ud166

mr and mrs Mallard ud166Greetings from Skansen and thank you for visiting this unique museum with us!

lily at skansen ud166

Arlene’s Farewell Concert. And Mischief at the Salt Marsh.

I feel lucky. I didn’t miss Arlene’s farewell concert on Thursday night. She sang the now familiar Aria di sorbetto ‘I Want Fiiish, a Big Fiiish’ to Mama Sandy, Dylan and me. She sang from the heart and closed her eyes to reach the highest notes.

osprey chick arlene asks for fish ud132Tired after the hot day and, I’m sure, many fishing attempts, she was perching at Papa Stanley’s usual summer resort in the park. Mama Sandy was sleeping on a lamp-post close by. She turned her head towards Arlene and just listened. She didn’t open an eye.

mama Sandy ud132Soon Arlene was sleeping too. Her crop was fairly full, but it never hurts to ask for more fish when mama is nearby.

osprey chick arlene is sleepy ud132_edited-1Early on Friday morning Dylan and I spotted her at her Marriott roof top suite, but during the day she had left. Almost four weeks after fledging she started her independent life. I had anticipated her departure, but little did I know these would be the last pictures of her. For now.

Papa Osprey at Marriott ud132_edited-1Dylan and I have looked for her every night since, but we have only found Papa Stanley and Mama Sandy. They have stayed in the area, and on Friday night we spotted both of them with a half-eaten fish. Perhaps in case Arlene would regret her move. But she didn’t. Osprey chicks rarely return once they ‘move out’, unlike many humans.

mama osprey on Sunday ud132But this morning when I was driving on a bridge to the mainland about five miles south of us, I spotted an Osprey chick. And an adult osprey was perching on the opposite lamp-post. I could not stop the traffic to look closer, but it could very well have been Arlene with one of her parents still keeping an eye on her. That would confirm my theory that one of the parents still support them after they leave. The presence of Osprey chicks is transient. They hatch, the lucky ones fledge and move out from the immediate nest area once they feel confident of their fishing skills. I certainly hope to see Arlene visiting the salt marsh one day. I’ll leave you with a funny picture I’ve not shared before. Arlene became a big girl and learned to potty before she learned to fly 🙂

osprey chick going to toilet ud126_edited-2Adieu Arlene, we wish you a happy life! And we’ll miss you.

That brings me to the happenings at the salt marsh. On Sunday I finally decided to defy the heat and go for a long walk. The first thing I spotted was quite shocking. An Anhinga had occupied the Osprey nest. Or more accurately, the perch.

anhinga at the osprey nest ud131Birds in the vicinity of the nest reacted too. An intruder was not welcome. Some looked up, dropped their jaw in horror, but said nothing. Like this Common Grackle.

grackle ud132Others, like the juvenile Green Heron, got really upset and just stared at the nest.

juvenile green heron ud132Despite the reactions, the Anhinga perched there for quite a while. That is, until he saw a big bird high in the sky. A Swallow-tailed Kite.

swallow-tailed Kite over salt marsh ud131_edited-1

anhinga ud131One could not risk that he was the owner of the nest. So the Anhinga quickly flew back to his friends on the bay side.

Just when I thought enough excitement now, there was more. The Reddish Egret I have dubbed ‘the Clown’ was doing his song and dance performance.

reddish Egret UD132

reddish egret 2 ud132He was moving swiftly, running sic-sack and talking to himself. He was almost too fast to capture on ‘tape’. Oh sorry, there are no tapes. Just some blurry photographs of his wild performance.

reddish egret 3 ud132Someone was watching this spectacle. As there always is. The Mayor was standing in the bushes nearby, and he was growing annoyed.

great blue heron the mayor ud132He started walking towards the Clown. Determined to stop the loud performance.

great blue heron ud132The Clown quickly calmed down. He was like nailed to the mud. Completely motionless he watched the Mayor walk by.

great blue heron and reddish egret ud132_edited-3A female Mallard was observing the power-play from the trail. She was keeping her distance, probably not knowing what to expect.

female mallard ud132But there was no confrontation. The Clown walked away, calmly. Despite some Black Skimmers flying back and forth right in front of his nose.

reddish egret and black skimmer ud132But he soon regained his resolve. And challenged the mayor, all puffed up.

reddish egret 4 ud132What he didn’t understand was that the Mayor is a stable, thick-skinned adult. Not to be easily provoked. And suddenly everything was calm again. The little Mottled ducklings swam by completely oblivious to the previous tension.

two mottled ducklings ud132The Tri-colored Heron continued her search for a tasty bite. And the Great Egret at the other end of the marsh gave a sigh of relief. He’s had his disagreements with the Clown.

tri-colored heron ud132.jpg

great egret ud132And I walked home. Now that the nesting season is over, I might take some time off too. I want to do some travelling. And approaching my fifth blogging anniversary next month, I also feel the need to refresh my blog. In the meantime I may blog less…and/or different. Although we’ll probably ‘see’ each other over the summer months, I wish all our friends a wonderful summer. A huge thank you from all of us at the salt marsh for being here.

Mama Osprey’s Little Wingman. And Danger Lurking.

Happy Mother’s Day to Mama Sandy! Being a mother is wonderful, but also exhausting and full of trials. Mama Sandy knows. She looks weary. I am not sure this picture shows two chicks, but this is the closest I’ve come this week to confirm that there still are two of them.

weary Mama Osprey and 2 chicks ud59But that doesn’t mean that the younger chick didn’t survive. S/he could just be in the middle of the nest and not yet looking out much. And even in the next picture s/he could be right in front of Sandy’s head.

osprey chick ud59The bigger chick is certainly thriving. S/he is wingersizing already. That long, out-stretched wing belongs to him/her!

This morning I took a solo walk to check on them. See, Dylan is not allowed to take long walks until next Thursday. He had surgery to repair a Cherry Eye in his left eye, which is still red. He has a cone to protect his eye, and is on three medications. Needless to say he doesn’t appreciate his current restrictions.

Dylan after surgeryAnyway, this morning I heard Mama Sandy give a sharp alarm call several times. I looked up in the sky, but couldn’t see anything flying overhead. At one time she was making herself ready to fly out, but changed her mind at the last moment. I was baffled. What was making her so upset?

mama osprey ready to defend the nest ud59I walked closer to the nest and discovered the reason she was on edge. The young Great Blue Heron was watching the nest intensively from the other side of the deep pond.

young great blue heron ud59After being discovered, he flew across the pond landing almost below the nest. And Sandy gave another sharp warning.

gbh flying ud59

younger great blue heron ud59Sandy was on her toes and ready to defend the nest. Because Papa Stanley didn’t fly in to assist her, I gathered he was out fishing. So I walked around the marsh to see who else was at home. The first one I spotted was the small Tri-colored Heron. She was hunting and didn’t pay much attention to me.

tricolored heron ud59The tiny juvenile Little Blue Heron, whom I saw last week for the first time, was also there. I think she’s made the salt marsh her new home.

juvenile little blue heron ud59On the north side of the marsh, two baby Mottled Ducks were having breakfast. Diving so often that I had a difficulty in capturing both of them up on the surface at the same time.

two ducklings ud59Mr. Mallard was also visiting the marsh for the first time this year. He posed nicely for the camera.

mr mallard ud59Walking further towards the beach end of the marsh, I had to laugh at this Northern Mockingbird.

Mockingbird ud59As soon as I walked by his tree, he started serenading me in advance of Mother’s Day. I took a 30 second video so he can serenade you too. The master of the songbird universe.

Reaching the end of the marsh, my attention was drawn to a Great Egret, who seemed very upset.

great egret ud59He was vocal too, and soon enough I saw why. The young Great Blue Heron was flying right towards him. I guess the GBH had decided he didn’t want to get his butt kicked by Sandy again, and wanted another piece of land to conquer.

young great blue heron ud59The Great Egret flew away, and the young GBH soon was the King of the Hill at the west-end of the marsh.

younger Great Blue Heron ud59I walked back towards the Osprey nest on the south side of the marsh. The only bird I saw there was a Blue Jay. He was moving all the time and gave me a hard time to get a shot.

blue jay ud59While I was occupied with him, I saw Papa Stanley circle around the nest with a fish. Mama Sandy did not say anything so he flew away with the fish. After reaching the nest, I sat down on “my” bench to change the battery in my camera.

mama osprey ud59I could only see Sandy. Then I saw a dark shadow flying over my head. It was Stanley coming back with the fish.

papa osprey brings a fish ud59He landed at the corner of nest. But nobody was hungry. This was around 10 a.m. and I guess Sandy and the chick(s) had just eaten. So he took the fish and flew away, presumably to eat it himself.

papa osprey delivers extra fish ud59

papa osprey flies away w fish ud59I’m sure he’ll need that extra energy as he’s fishing at least four times a day now, and probably eats less than any of them.

It was a gorgeous day and an eventful walk. Reaching our driveway a Mourning Dove was welcoming me home.

mourning dove ud59

With that I wish all mothers and grandmothers a wonderful Mother’s Day tomorrow.

 

 

Family Dramas. And a Possible Election Challenge. At the Salt Marsh.

There’s a hint of autumn in the air now. Finally it’s cooler, breezy and less humid. Okay. I’m going for full disclosure. It’s been gorgeous. And the beach has been lively with all kinds of shorebirds. Little Sanderlings and little humans enjoying the tidal pools together.

sanderling ud26 One morning I also witnessed a bit of a drama in the Royal Tern family. This is how it went down.

Mommy....I'm hungry! My older brother got more fish for breakfast.
Daddy….I’m still hungry! My older brother took almost all the fish.
Lunch time, Mommy!!
Did you hear me Daddy? I’m hungry!
Bring me fish! It's my turn!
Bring me fish! It’s my turn!
What about me, Mommy?
When Daddy returned empty-handed, Mommy was there too….Where’s the fish? Can’t you see our little one is hungry?

I hope all that was settled amicably after I had to leave. While all kinds of excitement was going on among the families on shore, the Brown pelican was sitting calmly on his observation pole off shore, watching it all. I could feel him thinking “this too shall pass”.

pelican ud26

The salt marsh has been fairly quiet. No big rush of migrants as yet. As usual the Mayor has been keeping order among the residents. The other day I saw him chasing the younger GBH around the marsh. I wondered what mischief he’d been up to. Or maybe he wanted to challenge the Mayor and run for office? Like so many these days.

mayor older blue heron ud26

That wouldn’t be such a good idea. I doubt he would get any votes at all. Even Mama Sandy sounded a sharp warning when he as much as flew towards the nest the other day. But he was challenging his fate, as usual, and landed in the water just below the nest. He has a big ego, it seems.

mama osprey closeup ud26

The ducks would definitely gang together against him. They’ve been having these large sunset gatherings lately. Perhaps planning a super pack to support the Mayor? And they’ve been very inclusive. Mallards, Mottled Ducks, and even the tiny Pied-billed Grebe. Like one big, happy family.

mallard meeting ud26Pied-billed Grebe ud26

I wonder if Papa Stanley and Mama Sandy were communicating about that very issue the other day. Papa was at his resort looking south, shouting something to Sandy. And posing for a photo in between. She was about half a mile south, sending replies perched on a huge antenna at the very top of the Marriott Resort on the bay side. That went on for a while before they said “over and out”.

papa osprey ud26mama osprey on the TV antenna ud26

In any case, if the young GBH was dreaming of running for office, my prediction is he’d not get support even from his own. The other Herons. The Tri-colored Heron seems to have her head firmly on her shoulders. And the juvenile Night Heron, although he might perhaps be persuaded by aggressive campaigning, is too young to vote anyway.

tricolored heron ud26juvenile night heron ud26

As to Miss Rosa, she seems very happy with the Mayor’s work. Nobody, but maybe a photographer, could make her to turn her head. And her friend Ibis may be blue eyed, but let me tell you, he’s not easily charmed. By anyone.

roseate spoonbill ud25 bibis ud26

As to the smaller birds, like this Blue Jay, they like to keep a safe distance to anybody showing signs of aggression.

Blue Jay ud26

Based on this official, highly reliable polling, my prediction is that the Mayor will sit firmly in the office for quite some time to come. And I take a new rainbow over the salt marsh as a good sign.

rainbow salt marsh to bay panorama ud26

With that, I’ll wish you all peace. And a wonderful upcoming weekend ~

Summer on the Beach. Water Fun and Guard Duty.

It was a fairly stormy week. On so many levels. Sun and the blue skies returned just in time for the weekend. It was soothing to sit on the sand and listen to the ocean waves rolling in.

Sand Key Beach Clearwater Florida
Brilliant summer day on our beach

When it’s sunny it’s hot. Lots of people were having fun in the water and on the water too. Birds were taking frequent baths.

Fun on the water Sand Key Clearwater
Fun on the water

This “new-guy-on-the-block” osprey had just been taking a cooling bath and sat under nature’s hair dryer next to the bay. He was shaking his wings and airing his feathers. And keeping an eye on me in between.

osprey drying himself Sand Key Clearwater
Hi Tiny, it was a good swim!

I also spotted papa osprey again! He had taken over the coveted curved “seat” on a dead palm tree. He had been swimming too, but was already almost dry. Still preening his feathers when I arrived. He discovered me soon enough and said his hello 🙂 Lovely as always.

Papa Osprey preening his feathers
Papa Osprey preening his feathers
male osprey Sand key Park Clearwater
Papa Osprey on a nice “seat” up in the palm tree

In the nature reserve, the ducks were having a family reunion. On the water, of course. They were taking turns in soaking their heads in the water. Or maybe it was a diving competition?

Mallards in the salt marsh of Sand Key Park Clearater
Mallard family reunion

One mallard was not playing. He had guard duty. The spoonbill was sleeping. Too much sun makes you sleepy.

mallard and roseate spoonbill clearwater
On guard duty…

I think it’ll soon be the time to put Bumble on guard duty too and call it a day.

Have a wonderful week ahead. ♥ Tiny