Waterfowl abound!

I am thrilled to report that the wood duck hen and her duckling continue to look like they are thriving on the pond. I saw them both yesterday afternoon and again this morning, and both times, mom repeated her trick of snagging something nutritious right out of the water. The entré in the image below appears to be fish, maybe bluegill. The Pedia of Wik claims “they mainly eat berries, acorns, and seeds, but also insects, making them omnivores,” but it appears an update may be warranted, eh?

Meanwhile, the river continues to provide new surprises, at least to me. Below are a mallard with her two, quite grown-looking ducklings taking a break on a sunny afternoon and a painted turtle sporting much less algae than the one we saw Sunday.

The plant world is also keeping up its pace with new blossoms from what appears from afar to be swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), a native on the river bank, and lesser burdock (Arctium minus), which is not native, unfortunately, but at least its “leaves, leafstalks, roots and flower stalks are all edible when prepared correctly.”

Another invasive species in North America, I am sad to report is the magnificent cutleaf teasel (Dipsacus laciniatus), “that may grow up to two to three meters” tall, and “rain water can collect in the cup-like receptacles that form where sessile leaves join the stem; this structure may perform the function of preventing sap-sucking insects such as aphids from climbing the stem. A 2011 experiment has shown that adding dead insects to these cups increases the seedset of teasels (but not their height), implying partial carnivory.” Yikes!

Finally, it’s time for the reader photo of the week, sent in by my very own sister, Deb, who spotted a pair of swans, probably mute swans (Cygnus olor) given their location, with their four cygnets on a reservoir in Connecticut. Deb used the fancy term cygnets because she is in fact a trained, licensed, and practicing veterinarian, whereas I merely play a naturalist on the interwebs. I read that “the mute swan is one of the heaviest flying birds,” and “one unusually big Polish cob weighed almost 23 kg (51 lb) and this counts as the largest weight ever verified for a flying bird.” Also, “the white cygnets have a leucistic gene.” So there.

And that’s all I’ve got for you today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for the next exciting episode of Signs of Life in Estabrook Park!

Published by Andrew Dressel

Theoretical and Applied Bicycle Mechanic, and now, apparently, Amateur Naturalist. In any case, my day job is teaching mechanics at UWM.

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