Easter Sunday dawned bright and sunny, and I found it terribly amusing that the first mammal I saw (other than the usual squirrels sitting on my back deck waiting for me to feed them) was an Eastern Cottontail rabbit near the storm water management ponds in my subdivision. This is the first rabbit I’ve seen since early January when one spent a couple of weeks hanging around my street, so I got out of the car to take a few pictures. As it was Easter Sunday, I was briefly tempted to go up to him to see if he’d laid any Cadbury chocolate Easter eggs; then I decided that to do so would seriously damage any credibility I may have gained as an amateur naturalist!
I checked the ponds but didn’t see any birds other than the usual Canada Geese and mallards. Red-winged Blackbirds were calling from the cattails and a couple of robins were stalking earthworms on the lawn.
I headed west to Dunrobin to look for Field Sparrows and Eastern Towhees, both of which had been reported recently. I didn’t hear or see either of these birds in the Carp Hills, but along the way I came across a pair of American Kestrels hunting from a telephone wire, several Turkey Vultures, a single Wild Turkey, a couple of meadowlarks, an Eastern Bluebird, and about four Tree Swallows. This one was checking out a nest box along the side of the road:
Instead of heading west to the Bill Mason Center I drove north on Thomas Dolan where I found my first Swamp Sparrow of the year singing in the marsh and this Osprey flying in to the nesting platform.
Driving back along March Valley Road I found the Gadwall that had been reported in one of the storm water management ponds. He was resting on the shore but then swam out into the middle of the pond when he saw me. A female Hooded Merganser was diving in the same pond.
I left March Valley Road after spending about 20 minutes at the pond and headed to Mud Lake for another chance at the Blanding’s Turtle. I didn’t see any migrants in the woods, although there were several Canada Geese on the pond. One had built a nest fairly close to the shore.
As I walked by the goose stood up and nudged her eggs. It won’t be long before the first fuzzy yellow goslings emerge from the nest; it would be really neat to be there when hatch!
At the Turtle Bridge there must have been at least 100 turtles basking on logs, most of which were facing away from me. I scanned them as best I could but didn’t see anything that looked like a Blanding’s Turtle, which is a bit larger than the Painted Turtles and has a helmet-shaped shell. A few Painted Turtles were within camera range so I took some pictures.
On my way home I stopped in at Andrew Haydon Park to see how the tree removal had affected the park. It appeared to me that most of the trees that had been removed from the parking lot area; however, I didn’t walk very far as my attention was caught by a group of Lesser Scaup swimming on the western pond. I looked to see if any Ring-necked Ducks were accompanying them, but there were none.
While sitting on the shore a boy came up to me and asked if there were any crabs in the water. I said no, and when he left I noticed a crayfish claw floating in the water. Realizing that this must have been what prompted his question, I fished it out of the water and placed it on a rock so I could photograph it. It was a little bit smaller than my thumb, and with that blue colouring I think it might have belonged to a Virile Crayfish (Orconectes virilis). I have never seen anything like it, not having paid much attention to aquatic animals before. It was certainly very colourful!
From rabbits to crayfish, it was certainly an interesting Easter Sunday!