Sunday, January 9, 2011

Of Birds and Bugs and Butterflies: A Year in Review, Part I

What will I remember about 2010? One of the most delightful sights of my year was the daily stroll of the turkey mums with their young. Slowly and with great patience, these ungainly birds would take the kids out for an afternoon “constitutional” along the creek bed under the willows, all in single file. The little ones would straggle a bit from time to time, curious about their surroundings, but then they would hurry to catch up as best they could. But no youngster was ever left behind too long, as the attentive adults would occasionally stop and wait. Then the silent, methodical procession would resume. I counted twenty-six birds winding their way along the creek one day. By autumn, the young birds had grown so much it was hard to distinguish adult from offspring.

By the way, anyone interested in learning about wild turkeys can attend Nature London’s Talking Turkey on Tuesday, January 18, part of the Nature in the City series.

Looking back over 2010, I think I can safely say that, overall, the wild things that call this tract of land home seem to be doing reasonably well and holding their own. Sadly, the number of frogs and turtles was down this summer, yet the number (and variety) of birds observed was up. Birds not observed here in a very, very long time were turning up again, like the Bobolink. And there were birds we had never seen here before, like the Northern Mockingbird. Even now, with winter firmly entrenched and the snowdrifts deep, an Eastern Towhee has opted to stay around and seems to have taken up residence in a spruce tree. This is first time a Towhee has been officially spotted at the wetland and the fact that she is still here in December makes it doubly surprising.

And the butterflies! Giant yellow swallowtails were regular visitors, not to mention the many Red Admirals and more Monarchs than we have seen in years. These are all good signs. But I am still trying to identify one particular butterfly, an almost-black beauty that I caught only a fleeting glimpse of once I’m sorry to say. Hurry, summer!

I'll talk about "my bugs”in the next blog post…

As for the photo of the turkey hens above, I must thank D. Gordon E. Robertson and Wikimedia because I never seem to have the camera handy when I see my turkeys.

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