pameladean pointed out this Song Sparrow hopping around in a stand of sumac. Looking at it in the viewfinder, I thought it had a piece of nesting material in its beak. When I zoomed in on one of the photos I'd taken on the camera's LCD screen, the "nesting material" turned out to be a Dusky Clubtail dragonfly, minus wings. I doubt a sparrow could catch a dragonfly out of the air, so it had probably found a recently-emerged one in the grass. Those photos didn't come out very well because the spotted brown dragonfly was hard to make out against the spotted brown sparrow. Luckily, the bird's next catch was a green caterpillar, which shows up much better. I suppose the bugs were destined to be baby food.
Dragonfly season has finally begun. Green Darners, which migrate in, have been around since April, and Variegated Meadowhawks, which migrate through, were here by May 14th, but until last week the only locally-grown dragonfly I'd seen was one Dusky Clubtail on May 8th. Now they're all over the park. Horned Clubtails were starting to emerge. Four-Spotted Skimmers were brand new and golden -- and, as usual, elusive. The Dot-Tailed Whitefaces were easier to approach:
That's the juvenile color pattern; when they reach breeding age, all the yellow spots turn black except for the squarish one near the end of the abdomen.
Eastern Forktail damselflies were also flying, along with at least one species of bluet -- probably a Boreal:
And in one grassy patch at the edge of the woods, eight or ten dragonflies were hawking insects continuously without landing. Based on behavior, location, and date, I think they were Common or Beaverpond Baskettails, but all we could really see was the glints of bronze from their wings.
Warbler migration has been slow this year. The species that would normally be passing through now may still be somewhere south of us, held up by the weather. But Yellow Warblers were out singing "sweet, sweet, little-more-sweet" all over the park. Common Yellowthroats were giving their witchety-witchety call, but we never saw one. American Redstarts -- a permanent resident, and one of my favorites -- were also singing. Their call is supposed to go "see-see-see-see it," but around here it sounds more like "don't be so slow!" with zero to three syllables of profanity before "slow." They also have a call that's usually transcribed "chiva chiva chiva," but, as Pamela says, what it really sounds like is somebody repeatedly squeezing a dog toy.
Three pairs of Canada Geese were out with their goslings on the pond by the Nature Center. We stood on the floating platform and watched them cropping the long grass at the edge of the pond, slurping it up like spaghetti. Then two of the families climbed onto shore, stood in the middle of the path, and started having a very intense dispute about whose patch of grass it was. One of them was doing a lot of snake imitations, wriggling his neck while holding it out along the ground. The other pair wound up separated and were obviously unhappy about it until one of them managed to sneak around back to its mate and goslings. We edged past carefully, too.
There were, as always, Red-Winged Blackbirds making cellphone noises from every stand of cattail, and cardinals going "tyew tyew tyew tyew" like children pretending to shoot ray guns. Tree Swallows were swooping overhead like bats, and three Barn Swallows made a quick flyby at Steiger Lake. There was one Osprey on the nesting platform, and the usual Barred Owl calling "Who cooks for you, who cooks for you-all" in the distance. We've been hearing owls at Carver for years but have never seen one. Three Great Egrets were fishing along the edge of Dragonfly Lake; the one on the right kept moving in toward the middle, and the others would immediately spread out to maintain the regulation distance between egrets. There were at least two Eastern Kingbirds, neither of them flycatching, though we did get a good chance to observe their weird, fluttering flight. It's as if they've been taught it's polite to use only the tips of their wings. At the end of the day an Eastern Meadowlark serenaded us from the top of a dead tree. Their song is "spring of the year," but there are more syllables in it than that, so I think they must be specifying years. "Spring of Two Thousand Thirteen" and so on.