Two out of three ain’t bad…

It was a nice morning in the park today; the air was cool and still. The doe and her two fawns were across the southern foggy soccer fields again, and two of the three big fishing birds we’ve seen a lot of recently were on the pond.

The young cormorant was in its usual spot in the southeast corner, where I had also spotted it yesterday afternoon and noticed that it seemed to be doing something odd with its throat so that it looked a little like a pelican.

I couldn’t believe my luck when my very first google search returned this helpful tidbit from Dan Tallman’s Bird Blog. “By opening their bills, and vibrating their upper throat muscles and bones, herons (and a few other bird families) are able to increase the passage of air across the mucus membranes of their throats. This behavior, called gular fluttering, increases heat loss on hot days.  Because of its permanent down coat and lack of sweat glands, the ability to lose excess heat is important to a bird.”

Meanwhile, the young great blue heron was fishing intently in the northeast corner.

A solitary wood duck hen was on the pond, as well, but she was in no mood for pictures, and I’ve only ever seen the one catching and eating frogs when she was with her duckling.

We’ve also got some new blossoms in the park. Here is what I believe to be brown-eyed susan (Rudbeckia triloba), which I read “usually has smaller flowerheads, more flowerheads per plant, and fewer ray flowers per flowerhead than” the black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta) we’ve already seen.

Here is yet another mint, this time corn mint, field mint, or wild mint (Mentha arvensis) with its interesting choice of blossom locations along its stem. I found it growing in the tall grass on the mudflats along the river south of the falls.

Also on the mudflats is this fairly understated plant, which I believe is known as pale smartweed, curlytop knotweed, willow weed, or pale persicaria (Persicaria lapathifolia syn. Polygonum lapathifolium), and which I read is actually “a species complex made up of a great many varying forms, sometimes considered varieties. The environment also has a strong influence on the morphology of an individual plant.”

Finally, monarchs continue to abound, and look who photobombed the shot as I was trying to photograph this photogenic example who must have been cool enough and/or hungry enough to let me get nice and close as it sampled some ever-striking swamp milkweed.

That’s it for today and tune in tomorrow to find out who’s fishing on the pond, who’s blooming along the river, and whatever else I can find that might be interesting.

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.

%d bloggers like this: