After returning from Naples we cooled off in the pool, and then I spent some time photographing the birds and dragonflies around the property. The Common Grackles and Northern Mockingbirds were around, as usual, and when I walked over the marina I saw a few Purple Martins flying over the water. There are a couple of Purple Martin houses on the opposite shore of the marina where they nest; we saw them bringing food to their young.
I was quite taken with the pretty blue dragonflies perching on the vegetation. The Seaside Dragonlet is the only dragonfly in North America that breeds in salt water, spending the larval stage of its life in the tropical mangrove swamps, saltwater marshes, and some brackish areas further inland.
Since I first discovered the Eastern Kingbird nest on June 4, 2013, I have only been able to visit it a couple of times. This is probably just as well, since nesting birds are better off left undisturbed – even by amateur naturalists who have only the best intentions and birds’ best interests at heart.
When I first saw the nest on June 4th, one adult was present and was keeping quite close to the nest, although she was not yet incubating. When I returned on June 12th, she was sitting on an undetermined number of eggs. Eastern Kingbirds lay two to five eggs; the incubation period lasts 14-17 days and the nestling period lasts 16-17 days. When I returned on June 19th, the eggs had not yet hatched and one adult was sitting patiently in the nest despite the sweltering heat.
After arriving in Hinton I dropped Doran off at his friend’s house and then drove over to the Beaver Boardwalk on Maxwell Lake. I had learned about this spot through the internet, and it sounded intriguing. Built by volunteers, the Beaver Boardwalk is a unique, 3.0 kilometer trail that winds its way through wetlands and an active beaver pond in the town of Hinton, Alberta. The Boardwalk features seating areas, an outdoor classroom, interpretive signs and two observation towers, and provides a wonderful opportunity for people to experience nature up close. Indeed, the signage along the trail shows that Hinton has a much different attitude toward beavers than the city of Ottawa does, as the town seems quite happy to have a family of them (sometimes up to nine individuals) in the wetland. One of the signs reminds us that wildlife has the right of way at all times – we are guests in their home. I also read online that aspen branches are brought to Maxwell Lake by truck each September for the beavers to add to their winter food cache. It appears that in Hinton, the beavers are seen as part of the community rather than a pest to be destroyed.
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!