Earlier in the year, I was up at Juanita Bay before things got too warm to make it enjoyable. We get plenty of ducks and coots on the bay but, on this occasion, there were a load of grebes on the water. The types of grebes I grew up with a larger than the ones I saw here. To be honest, I am not certain whether these were adults or juveniles because they seemed to have very small wings. Maybe that is how they are, but it could be that they weren’t fully grown. Maybe some of you know your birds well and can enlighten me.
Anyway, they would periodically get excited and start zipping around the bay. They would be flapping these small wings furiously and just skimming across the water until they found somewhere that they were happier to be. I don’t know whether this is just normal movement or that they were spooked by something but it was fascinating to watch them hurtling around.
It has been a while since I was down at Juanita Bay. During the summer, the light is harsh, the heat haze is tough, and the humidity is uncomfortable. I also sometimes find myself getting bitten by stuff. However, a pleasant fall afternoon after work seemed like a good time to head down and see what was going on. Things were not too active, but it was nice to relax in the sun as the wildlife did its thing. Sure, an eagle did fly over at one point, but it seemed more interesting in annoying the other birds than actually hunting.
There were tons of coots on the water. They were grouped together with lots of preening and bathing going on along with the regular feeding. At some point, something happened to spook them, though. I don’t know whether there was really anything there or not. I wondered if an otter was under the water, but I never saw any sign of one. Whatever happened, the coots all seemed to get upset and they took off in bunches to go to another part of the bay. Some of them came very close to me so I got them “running” across the surface of the water to find somewhere they felt more relaxed.
As we were walking through Brandon Park, we saw this gull on the grass by the path. I don’t know for sure what it was up to, but I wondered whether its steps were designed to sound like rain falling to worms beneath the surface to encourage them to come up and then get eaten. Maybe it is something else but, whatever it is, it was pretty funny to watch. Needless to say, I thought it was worth getting some video.
I was walking through Juanita Bay Park when I saw this bird sitting on the sign. It sat there for a while before flying beyond it. I am not sure whether the sign was really directed at the local wildlife or just the humans but, if it was for the birds, it either can’t read or it was a little disobedient.
Most of the animals in the park are pretty accustomed to the humans. Provided we remain a reasonable distance away, they are comfortable getting on with their lives. Get too close, and they will be spooked. The exception to this rule is red-winged blackbirds. They really seem to be quite blasé about the humans. Stand on the boardwalks and they might come and land on the handrail next to you and wander up alongside you. Sudden movements might scare them, but steady movements won’t phase them at all. While watching other wildlife, you can almost not realize that they are there. I find my phone is the best option for getting images because they are too close for the regular set up.
There are plenty of great blue herons that hang out in Juanita Bay. While they are quite calm most of the time, they do get a little aggravated if they intrude on each other’s turf. If one flies close to another, a little spat will ensue. What is hard to tell is who is the one that is the aggressor and who is the one on the receiving end. A pair of them ended up circling and wheeling around over the water one evening. I wasn’t entirely sure how it had started but they were coming around on each other repeatedly. Eventually they went in different directions and it was all over. I’m not sure if either of them ended up in the space that they were fighting over!
In some previous posts I have discussed how aggressive the red-winged blackbirds can be towards the great blue herons. The herons are quite happy to eat the chicks of the blackbirds, so the aggression is justified. One of the herons was flying in my direction when a blackbird swooped down at it. It came in from above and behind and started to attack the heron. I got a sequence of shots as this evolved and my favorite is one where it actually looks like the blackbird is riding the heron. If only it had some reins!
My visit to Cattle Point in search of foxes had me trekking along the cliff tops hoping to spot some creatures on the prowl. I met a local couple that suggested they normally saw foxes further along the coast and so I headed that way. As I kept moving, I did get some wildlife encounters but it was with bald eagles rather than foxes. They were soaring along the cliff tops using the updrafts. At one point, one popped up over the edge close to me and stared at me briefly before gliding on. I was too slow to pick up the camera and instead watched it fly by. I did catch some of its compatriots later in my walk, though. If I’m not getting foxes, eagles are okay but I can get them at home!
We went through a phase at Juanita Bay when the number of coots really rocketed. They were a popular source of food for the local eagles, but they had to work for it. The coots were gathered in large groups on the water and the eagles would do their best to get one isolated so that they could pick it off. As they got close, the flocks of coots would get startled and would start flying around to evade the eagles. Watching this action from a distance was fascinating as this large number of birds tried to move as one to protect themselves. Not a time for being independent!
During our UK visit, we stayed in the village of Longparish. The gardens outside our place had a stream of wildlife coming through. By far the most common visitors were the wood pigeons. They were always wandering around the garden looking for snacks in the ground. They are so plump compared to normal pigeons, and you could see why eating pigeon might have been a big part of people’s diet. They seemed so confident in themselves. We felt like we were intruding on their space as we came in or out. It was really their place, not ours.