Watching the moon & and the young eagle
My big report for this month is animmature Bald Eagle taking a fish from the lake and eating it in a tree on the island. It took place mid-afternoon on Aug. 24. Like every other Eagle report in the park, I did not see it, but a good observer did. I have seen eagles several times over the neighborhood and whenever I report one from the park, it is from a reliable person. I did see a (or the) Cooper’s Hawk in the park several times last month, but never for very long.
Anyone who wants to see some raptors up close, probably a good selection of them, could go to the U of M Raptor Center’s raptor release on Saturday, Sept. 26, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center, 12805 St. Croix Trail in Hastings. I won’t be able to go, but I went to a very good Raptor Center program, at the September Audubon of Minneapolis meeting, about Kestrels, North America’s smallest raptor and a rare visitor to our park and neighborhood.
I did see Common Nighthawks in the park on Aug. 27, and, as I always say, Nighthawks are not really hawks. They were migrating, not making their usual distinct call, and it was daylight when I saw them.
The August rains raised the lake level a lot, probably the highest in a couple of years, but it is once again dropping quite quickly.
Members of the Heron family are still around but not nearly as many as in early summer. There is usually one Great Blue Heron, two or three Black-crowned Night Herons, once in a while a Green Heron and no Egrets. (And I have no regrets, either.) Double-crested Cormorant numbers are also down somewhat. I again spotted a Spotted Sandpiper on the shore, about six weeks after my last sighting.
The regular Mallards and Wood Ducks are doing well and more Canada Geese are on the lake than the regulars who nested or were born at Powderhorn.
Thanks to the person with the nice e-mail and question about the geese. Yes, the park board hires people to capture Canada Geese, when they (the geese) are molting and flightless, and deliver them to local food shelves. For whatever reason, they did not come to Powderhorn this year. They have in the past. I know that lots of children and adults enjoy feeding the ducks and geese, but it would be better for all if this didn’t happen and the birds would not be so tame and easy to catch or harass.
There are still only a few Ring-billed Gulls at a time, but that should increase soon, and only about one American Crow family. There will probably be hundreds of Crows as fall progresses.
I have seen only one migrating warbler so far, a Common Yellowthroat, hanging out with Chickadees and Goldfinches, eating all sorts of seeds on the southwest lake shore.
Chimney Swifts have not left yet, though they do usually leave early, and a lot of them are over the park on good bug days and evenings.
I saw a toad on a park path after a late evening August rain. The only time I ever see toads at the park is during or after late night rains.
Last month, I mentioned the park board’s attempt to make Powderhorn look like a suburban golf course. I thought they were succeeding when I saw the Goodyear blimp over the park on Aug. 12. But the blimp did not stay. It continued on to the Hazeltine Golf Club where it spent several days at the big PGA tournament.
Powderhorn did have something that I doubt Hazeltine or the PGA will ever have. The very talented neighborhood fire dancers (headquartered on my block) held several rehearsals in the park before leaving for the Burning Man Festival at the end of August. I don’t know yet, but I assume they were well received at the Burning Man with an interesting and well-conceived fire dancing show.
As I and various other people have said after May Day, the Powderhorn Art Fair, art sleds or National Night Out, “I love this neighborhood!”
The new young birds in the yard for the month are Goldfinches. Last year I mentioned a seven-member Goldfinch family that was great fun to watch. This year I think it is a six-member family. Watching is fun, but the noise levels are unbelievable when the adults are at the tube finch feeder and the young are on a nearby branch fighting for position. The sound is loud but pleasant. I can’t say the same for the drastically increased airplane noise lately, caused by an airport construction project that should end before winter.
One night (on Aug. 18), I saw a hummingbird moth in the yard. They are quite beautiful and about the size of their namesake, the Hummingbird (naturally!). I hadn’t seen one for at least a couple of years. In the good old days of hot days and particularly hot nights, I would see hummingbird moths several times a summer.
Maybe cool nights are good for moon-watching as that has been very good all summer. I hope it will continue.
Comments and observations are always welcome. Send them to me, in care of Southside Pride. Thank you.