The weather was behaving in the afternoon, so I stopped off at William Land Park for a short walk. I was surprised to see a whole flock of seagulls sitting by the large pond. I’ve watched them fly over a lot of times, but never saw them “grounded” before. They were all Ring-Billed gulls, some of them juveniles, still in their first winter plumage, their eyes still dark; some adults in their breeding colors, others not… I also saw a female Common Merganser, a pair of Hooded Mergansers, and an egret who was fishing in the far end of the pond. I actually got some photos of it catching and eating two small carp!
While I was watching and photographing all this stuff, I came across a sweet lady and her little poodle-like dog, Cody. She talked for a while about the “100 photos of the egret” she’d taken – a phenomenon to which I could totally relate, hah! – and how she’d snap the photos and then go on-line to try to figure out what kinds of birds/animals she’d been looking at. That’s the way I started, too. I had no idea what a Hooded Merganser was before I took a photo of one and then looked it up online… I told her about my blog and suggested she post some of her photos online, too.
Then I watched a crow with a peanut. The peanut was still in its shell, and as I watched, the crow carried it over to the pond and dropped it into the water to soften the shell, then nipped off the end of the shell and dumped the nut out. Very cool! I knew crows could think through problems and teach new behaviors to their off-spring — (like the crows that drop walnuts into on-coming traffic, so the cars will crack the nuts for them) — but I’d never seen one do this before. The female Common Merganser also had an interesting way of finding food. Mergansers are diving ducks, but rather than expending a lot of energy diving for food if she didn’t have to, this one swam along with her head just under the surface of the water, looking down into the pond below her. Then when she saw something interesting, she’d dive down like a rocket to get it. I don’t know of that’s their normal fishing behavior, but it was neat to watch…
So I enjoyed this walk a lot. Then I headed home and crashed for the day.