Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Institute Park at Lunch

I decided to head out to Institute Park at lunch today to take advantage of the gorgeous weather we had and was hoping to add at least another bird or two to my 2010 list. The sun was warm as I got out of my car and there were scores of people all around who had the same intent as my own which was to get a tease of spring after the long, depressing winter we had.

I headed over to the cat tails because I really wanted to get some decent photos of some male Red-winged Blackbirds because I find them a site for sore eyes come March and just wanted to get a picture of that vibrant red on their wings. Unfortunately, there were none around, but I did see and hear quite a few Common Grackle's over at the other side of the cat tails that were too far away for a picture.

I scanned the waters hoping for some Hooded Mergansers but all that could be seen were two lone Mallards, some gulls and of course..................................................................

The infamous Mute Swan's of Institute Park. I could see many large forms of white on the water and stood there in disbelief for a while trying to remember how many were there last year and I believe there were five (the two adults and three young, but I thought I remembered Rick telling me one of the young had died), so that math didn't add up as what I saw on that small pond today were 8 Mute Swan's!!! Despite my dislike of these birds due to their voracious appetite that takes food away from our native birds and drives them away as well, I found myself drawn to them today as the weather was gorgeous and it would be the first time I had seen unfrozen, calm waters in months so I just stood there and watched.
This one in particular was eating something at the bottom of the pond that was once contained in a white plastic bag as you can see in the picture above. It would occasionally glance up at me to see what I was doing, but was so engrossed in its lunch it didn't pay much attention to me as I clicked away with my camera.
Putting aside what I know as a birder on this species of bird, I looked at its gentle face and could understand the appeal this type of bird has on the regular folks who frequent this park as it is a landmark of the pond in its own way. It's hard for the non-birders to see and get excited over Chipping Sparrows who are here in the spring but nobody can miss the Mute Swans who gracefully float over to them in hopes they will spare a snack or two and most preferably bread.
But then I remember what I saw last year when the Mute Swan's were getting ready to nest and the male was no longer gentle as he would flap those heavy wings of his that would cause a loud almost thumping sound across the park as he made his way toward the Canada Geese to let them know they were not welcome here under no uncertain terms.

Now I am not overly fond of Canada Geese either, but I couldn't help but to feel bad for them as there was certainly enough room for all of them and all the Canada Geese were doing were chilling out under the sun and trying to eat a little snack just as they would be today.
It will be interesting to see how long the two adults let the other Mute Swan's stick around. My guess is they are onto somewhere else and made this a pit stop before going to their destination as I know the adults won't tolerate them all (including their own young I would assume). It will also be interesting to see how long the Mute Swan's and Canada Geese will live in harmony before all hell breaks loose and there is a war going on within these very calm waters.
As I headed back to the car I would see this lone little muskrat (I believe). I guess he got the memo that winter is officially over with and decided to get out of where ever he has been to celebrate St Patrick's Day and the warm weather with the rest of the Institute Park Clan.

Take care all


Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Open Water and blue sky,the making of a beautiful day.I saw my first migrating Canada Geese today,so spring is here.

Rich said...

Happy St. Patrick's Day Kim.

So glad the weather is getting reasonable. The photos are so great!

Shelley said...

Fantastic photos! That swan w/ the mirroring reflection in the water was especially beautiful!


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