May 16, 2013

Seventeen days after the last one was sighted, a Meadowlark is by itself out on the pastures! A lingering Western, or an odd summering Eastern?

Lark Sparrows are in court-n-spark mode, a male and female are singing together like two leads in an opera. He lets out with the sweetness of a canary, and jumps from the ground onto the spokes of an irrigator wheel, climbing them one by one, jumping from one side of the wheel across to the other while spreading his tail, sometimes the feathers wide into a complete fan, and as he reaches the top of the wheel, stretches upwards as far as his neck can extend while he’s singing. She stays below, twittering, joyful.

Ellison and I have our lunchtime at The Stockpond. The 96 degree afternoon brings in a female hummingbird to sip from the open water–she’s desperate enough to forgo whatever security her gender almost always seeks in sticking to the riser hydrant and avoiding the open water area. Instead of being dive-bombed and driven off by a male of her species, however, she is threatened by of all things, a dragonfly! One of those gaudy “saddle shoe” dragonflies (a Desert White-tail like yesterday’s, and maybe it’s the same individual) comes gliding innocently along below her, then rises quickly with obvious intent and attacks her again and again, but she escapes. If we hadn’t seen this with our own eyes … surely it couldn’t have been trying to prey on her, could it? (Much later I would do an Internet subject search on this, and found a number of just such incidents talked about, including one on an Audubon Society bulletin board webpage in which there was a reference to a film documenting a large dragonfly grabbing and carrying off a full-grown Rufous Hummingbird! Who knew?)