The masked bandits are back…

It was cool, still, and dark this morning, but dry for a change, so a perfect time to spot those critters who prefer not to be spotted, and sure enough, our little masked bandits at the pond did not disappoint. I’m guessing that’s fresh crayfish on the menu this morning. Tasty.

I only got a couple of glimpses before they slunk away, again, but this time as I tried to get some nice duckling pictures, they came back out. The possibility exists, based on a vast dataset of two anecdotes, that my dark grey long pants and long sleeves act as better camouflage than my lily white legs and arms sticking out of black short pants and a black t-shirt. Duly noted.

Junior even lingered for a better look after Mom decided that she had seen enough. “What is that thing?”

Anyway, here’s your duckling picture, and yes, it appears that now there are only five. Besides raccoons and possibly mink, there are a variety of raptors that we’ve seen, with mouths of their own to feed, and don’t forget that giant snapping turtle lurking under the surface. It’s tough out there, but Mom seems to take it all in stride.

As I began to make my way to the river, I was treated to this little show on the path into the woods at the north end of the pond.

Could they be any less unnerved by me? Yet, another anecdote supporting my camo theory.

At the river, I think we’ve got our best evidence yet, that there is a size and probably age difference among the beaver population. Here’s a smaller, younger one.

And here’s big ol’ Ma or Pa wondering “what you lookin’ at?”

Just the difference in their facial expressions speaks volumes to me, even if pure anthropomorphization on my part, and yes, I sure did have to look how to spell that one.

Anywho, you’ll never guess who was fishing at the falls again. I’d like to think that they would be excellent judges of how good the fishing is at any spot, but they sure seem to spend a lot of time staring at the rushing water and not much time gulping down fish, compared to what we’ve seen them do in still water.

North of the falls, I was thrilled to see this mallard hen with three ducklings in tow confidently steam right across the river right towards me. Perhaps they are the quartet we’ve seen several times at the north end, and she has concluded that I’m harmless.

No owls today, I’m sorry to say, but I sure bet the mallards prefer it that way.

Lastly, just as I reached the top of the bluff on my way home, this female oriole sure made it seem like I was harshing her mellow, but she still didn’t make it easy to take her picture.

Her behavior, though, reminded me of red-winged blackbirds, and a quick check revealed what you might think obvious: they are indeed cousins, and the Pedia of Wik explains:

Icterids or New World blackbirds make up a family, the Icteridae, of small to medium-sized, often colorful, New World passerine birds. Most species have black as a predominant plumage color, often enlivened by yellow, orange, or red. The species in the family vary widely in size, shape, behavior, and coloration. The name, meaning “jaundiced ones” (from the prominent yellow feathers of many species) comes from the Ancient Greek ikteros via the Latin ictericus. This group includes the New World blackbirdsNew World orioles, the bobolinkmeadowlarksgracklescowbirdsoropendolas, and caciques.”

Well, that explains a lot.

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.

5 thoughts on “The masked bandits are back…

  1. These are easily the most annotated reads I get all week with hyperlinks to all needed external references. I guess it shows how out of it I am to have look up something without references. “Harshing her mellow”. Ha! Got it now!! Thanks for keeping it fresh!


    1. Yes, they appear adorable and are fun to watch from a distance, but the family of a childhood buddy of mine tried to keep one as a pet. It was pretty friendly, but a little too industrious, and it ripped up all the linoleum from their kitchen floor. Surprise!

      As for me, it’s not that I shun the light of day, but that I just haven’t seen much of it lately.


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