Aug 262014
 

Aug 8, 2014 – Carrollton, Texas

NOTE: This post is part of a continuing series of observations: [ First | << Prev | Next >> ]

It’s time to check in on our rapidly growing Mute Swan cygnet once again. The juvenile swan is 16 weeks old as of this report and very nearly the same size as his parents. He is now fully feathered, although it is not clear at this date just how far along the growth of his flight feathers has progressed. I will be watching for an opportunity to photograph the cygnet exercising his wings in the coming weeks. That should give us a good look at the extent of his feather growth.

The sky grew overcast and darkened just after we arrived at the park. A few minutes later a brief summer shower gave us some relief from the late afternoon heat. It was interesting to observe the swans and other animals around the lake as they went about their business in the falling rain. For a short time after the clouds broke the sun lit up the scene with the soft golden rays that are so typical after a shower passes through. This warm lighting effect made for some unique and favorable photography conditions while it lasted.

The cygnet with the adult male.

The cygnet with the adult male.

Enduring a brief rain shower.

Enduring a brief rain shower.

The skies darkened as the rain fell harder.

The skies darkened as the rain began to fall harder.

The adult female—mom.

The adult female—mom.

After the storm had passed.

After the storm had passed.

Taking a drink.

Taking a drink.

The cygnet at 16 weeks of age.

The cygnet at 16 weeks of age.

The swan family.

The swan family.

Tail and flight feather growth.

Tail and flight feather growth.

Feeding in the duckweed.

Feeding in the duckweed.

Submerged.

Submerged.

The duckweed held a few other surprises this week. Dozens of small green heads with big, bulbous eyes poked up from just under the water’s surfaces to have a look around. See the pictures below for the big reveal…

The duckweed held more surprises.

The duckweed held more surprises.

Recently metamorphosed American Bullfrogs by the dozens.

Recently metamorphosed American Bullfrogs by the dozens.

Juvenile bullfrogs.

Juvenile bullfrogs.

Taking their first breaths of air.

Taking their first breaths of air.

Sitting on aquatic vegetation.

Sitting on aquatic vegetation.

No more tadpole tail!

No more tadpole tail!

A juvenile frog is just a fraction of the size of an adult.

A juvenile frog is just a fraction of the size of an adult.

As is always the case, many other animals were active around the park on this afternoon. Eastern Cottontails have a preference for certain parts of the park. Most spend their time in the marshy end of the lake where they can hide in the tall reeds when they are not feeding on the manicured grass near the trail. There have been a lot of juvenile cottontails observed here over the course of the summer—most are nearly grown now.

Eastern Cottontail

Eastern Cottontail

The mesquite trees up on the hill near the old Josey Ranch building are home to many Fox Squirrels. A couple of them entertained us briefly with their antics as we walked by.

Attempting to hide.

Attempting to hide.

Fox Squirrel

Fox Squirrel

Looking for food.

Looking for food.

Eating a seed.

Eating a seed.

Great Egrets are stately and elegant birds. This one was busy fishing in the shallow waters near the center of the lake, just adjacent to the marshy reed beds.

Great Egret

Great Egret

Sees a fish, maybe?

Sees a fish, maybe?

Hunting in the shallow water.

Hunting in the shallow water.

To the south of the main lake is a small secluded pond ringed by willow trees. Here a Green Heron was observed hunting along the banks while an adult American Bullfrog kept and eye on him from the safety of the duckweed choked water. Meanwhile, a pair of Mute Swans fed on the ubiquitous aquatic vegetation on the far side of the pond.

A Green Heron Hunting near the banks of a small pond.

A Green Heron Hunting near the banks of a small pond.

And adult American Bullfrog.

An adult American Bullfrog.

A pair of Mute Swans feeding on duckweed.

A pair of Mute Swans feeding on duckweed.

The willow trees surrounding the pond held three or four juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron. I have always found night herons to be particularly tolerant of observation and these were no exception. Later in the evening I came across an adult yellow-crown, which offered a nice opportunity to compare and contrast the plumage of the adult with that of the juveniles.

Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron hiding in the willow branches.

Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron hiding in the willow branches.

Look at that big orange eye!

Look at that big orange eye!

Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Yellow-crowned Night Herons are often very tolerant of observation.

Yellow-crowned Night Herons are often very tolerant of observation.

An adult Yellow-crowned Night Heron.

An adult Yellow-crowned Night Heron.

Mourning Doves are everywhere in North Texas, but they are not always easy to see. This one was sunning in the short grass next to the trail. His camouflage was so effective that we very nearly did not notice him.

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

Back at the main lake the Nutria were very active on this afternoon. Apparently there is love in the air as several of these critters were engaged in courtship behaviors—just what we need, more Nutrias!

Nutria in a rain shower.

Nutria in a rain shower.

On the grassy bank of Josey Ranch Lake.

On the grassy bank of Josey Ranch Lake.

Courting Nutrias.

Courting Nutrias.

Chasing his lady love.

Chasing his lady love.

Mating

Mating

Courting Nutrias.

Courting Nutrias.

Just down the way, a quintet of very young baby Mallards passed our way near the grassy banks. Surely this will be the last brood of Mallards ducklings at this park this summer! Barely a week old, these young birds have already learned that people visiting the water’s edge likely means it is feeding time. The bold young Mallards will swim right up to you with their very concerned mother doing her best to keep up with them as they go.

Week old baby Mallards.

Week old baby Mallards.

Cute little guys.

Cute little guys.

With their mother.

With their mother.

Feeding in the clear water.

Feeding in the clear water.

The ducklings were very active.

The ducklings were very active.

Five mischief makers.

Five mischief makers.

Mom's showing them where the food is.

Mom’s showing them where the food is.

Later in the evening, one of the duckling discovered a glow-in-the-dark rubber fishing worm and then spent a good deal of time playing with it. The fun he was having did not go unnoticed by his siblings and there was much jealousy. The other young Mallards chased this lucky duck relentlessly, but they never did succeed in grabbing his prized possession.

Ducking with a rubber fishing worm.

Ducking with a rubber fishing worm.

A prized possession!

A prized possession!

Guarded selfishly.

Guarded selfishly.

The worm was coveted by his siblings.

The worm was coveted by his siblings.

As the sun began to set, aquatic reptiles began to make their appearance. In the picture below you will find a Spiny Softshell Turtle. Only its eyes and snout are visible above the water’s surface. Hidden from view is a shell that in similar in size and shape to a typical dinner plate.

Spiny Softshell Turtle.

Spiny Softshell Turtle.

A Diamondback Water Snake was the next reptile top arrive on the scene. We observed this individual as he swam across the lake starting on the side opposite of us. He worked his way past our position and then disappeared from view somewhere along the grassy bank.

A Diamondback Water Snake swimming across the lake.

A Diamondback Water Snake swimming across the lake.

Coming at you!

Coming at you!

The Diamondback Water Snake is nonvenomous and harmless.

The Diamondback Water Snake is nonvenomous and harmless.

Notice the forked tongue.

Notice the forked tongue.

A Little Blue Heron sighting closed out a busy and productive visit. This handsome bird was looking for his dinner from high atop his driftwood perch.

Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron

NOTE: This post is part of a continuing series of observations: [ First | << Prev | Next >> ]

  2 Responses to “Mute Swan – Nest 2014 Update 17”

  1. Great update! I love the little duckling holding on to his prize 🙂

  2. Great photos! What a wide array of wildlife.

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