Red -Winged Blackbirds

At the peak of breeding season, these handsome birds look brilliant with shiny black feathers accented by red and yellow on the wings , which seem to inflate when they are calling. The female even shows some reddish tinge on her wing and occasionally takes a break from the nest and comes out to get water and sun on the rocks. He may have more than one female but is rigorous in guarding the nests. I got too close to the reeds once last year where there was a nest and a male flew at my face. I ducked and felt his feet scratch the top of my head, as I made a hasty retreat from the area, impressed with his bravado.

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Male Red-winged Blackbird Preening
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Female Red-winged Blackbird

 

 

 

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Two American Coots

When I first heard them I thought they were fighting but looking at the photos afterward there is more going on. Funny how when I am busy just keeping two birds in the frame I don’t always “get” what is going on until I get the photos downloaded. This scenario happened as fast as I was able to take the images.Coots are fast and furious at most of their activities yet so caring and gentle as parents, one of the reasons I like them so much.

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Displaying behaviour
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Mounting
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Another chase
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A lot of croaking
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Now the hen is taking off
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Now she is displaying her tail feathers but facing the wrong direction for me to get a shot from the right viewpoint.

 

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Here is a photo of the other end of the display taken in the past.

 

 

A Gaggle of Geese

There are some families on this lake in Edmonton now but what I saw was mostly assembled into one group, save for one couple who are fiercely defending their one gosling. The two geese leading the floating daycare are surrounded by about four pairs of geese, whether approvingly or waiting for a chance to get their offspring back. There was one battle between two ganders as a goose waited nearby on one side and a forlorn – looking gosling on the other side.

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Here’s the “Floating Daycare” with a dozen goslings and accompanying parents nearby.
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One pair with one gosling.
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One lone gosling with two fighting parents.
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The chase is on and it is fierce!
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The gosling is at the right middle side of the photo edge.
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The gosling is out of the picture as the geese half-fly half-run at each other.
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Making contact and dodging the charge.
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Still not over yet.
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They mean business!
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Seems like a victory with a triumphant wing flap. 
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The parents part with their gosling between them. Maybe they crossed a territorial line.
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A while later, a larger group with seven goslings travel by.

 

The Pelicans are Back

I returned to the lake hoping to see the Pelicans and Double- Crested Cormorants and am happy to see that they are all back. Something I have not seen before is the presence of a keel on the bill of one of the birds, a sign of breeding.

They are hilarious as they all crowd onto one of the rafts in the middle of the lake where the Canada geese used to occupy before the arrival of the bigger birds.. Yet, to my further amusement, there is one, no two cormorants there as well, holding their ground with these big birds. Some of the pelicans would fly into the water from this over-crowded perch, swim up to the side where one Cormorant was standing, look at it, then swim on, not challenging it.

These two species always share the raft but I have not seen it this crowded before. I got some shots when they flew as a group to the opposite side of the lake, and around the corner to another bay.

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Hanging out together preening and Drying the feathers.
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Seems a little crowded on that one side.
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With less Pelicans, I can see one more cormorant.
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is he watching the pelicans or the other Cormorant?
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A gathered front by the cormorants to keep their space. No challenge.
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Fishing together across the bay.
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Taking off.

 

Sighted at an Urban Lake

I heard rumours , or was told a couple of times about a sighting of a Black-Crowned Night Heron at a lake in Edmonton. Missed it on my first visit but found it today. I have not seen one of these for years so it was a good birding day!

It was first spotted as a largish blur went past the lake and landed in a bush across the lake. Then it flew across the waters very close to where I was standing. I could see it from some angles through the trees and got a few images. Then it flew to another spot and stood there for a while. This time it was in plain view and I got a couple of poses. This sighting was a real treat and I am grateful for sticking around a little longer.

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First sighting on the fly

 

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It came into the bushes very close to where I was standing.
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In plain view on another shore.

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Blossoming Trees

Spring seemed to take its time arriving but now everything is bursting out all over. The leaves are out and starting to lose that fresh spring green as they mature and the blossoms on the trees are at their finest. I took the time to try to capture some images, which was a bit challenging because it was a little breezy outside, but worth the effort  as it is so pretty outdoors.

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Flowering Crab Apple

 

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A bit of yellow from the Caragana or Peashrub tree- try finding a yellow warbler in that!

 

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 A branch in Isolation
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The fruit is still on the limbs from last year
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Pink Beauties
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A view of the trees
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Some of you know I have my favourite tree but people were picnicking underneath and even had a hammock attached so I took an image of a small section of it.
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A group of blossoming trees, one of many groups in the park.

 

A Big Dose of Cute-ness

Saw my first sighting of newly hatched Goslings today, five of them surrounded by a few pair of Geese guarding them and keeping a watchful eye on intruders. Grateful for my longer lens, I got close enough for some very cute photos of these hatchlings.

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Guarding the young is a group effort
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Pretty young maybe a week old?
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Staying together
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Five goslings in total

 

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So Cute!

 

 

Another New Visitor-American Coot

While visiting this lake in the south side of the city, I found another visitor, an American coot. I love their red eyes and they can fold their wings and rear feathers into a oval shape at their hind end when they are displaying, quite beautiful to see with white feathers around  the edges . Otherwise they are somewhat plain but can provide a lot of entertainment with their young and are ferocious defenders of their territory. To my knowledge, there is only one, which was standing on a tree limb, preening itself.

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The Red Eyes of the Coot
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Preening its Feathers
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Busy enough to let me get Closer
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Stopping for a Pose

 

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from another year with a Chick

 

 

A Pair of Red-Necked Grebes

It is interesting to see a pair of grebes at this city lake where I don’t usually see them. Since they are a pair, perhaps they will stay. The neighbours of the feathered variety may not be too appreciative of their presence, will wait and see who wins the territorial battles.

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Guarding their area, they need a lot of space
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Calling to each other in their Courtship display
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Swimming Together
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Heads held High
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More Courting