Photo: ducks & their ducklings

Yesterday afternoon we had an unexpected sighting of tiny ducklings out with their parents. We almost missed seeing them; they were camouflaged perfectly by the tall bushes and sun’s glare on the water. These little animals turned a reluctant walk into a cheerful one where they insisted we go back today to check on the nesting duck.

Duckling season. We almost missed this female duck camouflaged by tall branches and bushes. Hope her ducklings arrive soon: cute, healthy, and safe from predators pafter birth.

Below are pictures of 2 different duck families. First set had 5 ducklings and the second set had 9.

Family of 5: ducklings hanging around mama duck

In this family, it seemed the female duck was the main protector of its ducklings.

This male duck could’ve been the father. He sat on land nearby but we can’t remember if he joined rhem later. Maybe he was taking a break from duckling care.

“Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath.”

Michael Caine 

Family of 9: most ducklings follow except for 1 or 2 wanderers

Couple of ducklings wandered away and missed the photo opp
Everyone swimming at own pace.
2 ducklings are nearby but didn’t make it into the picture.

Thank you for stopping by and hope the start of May is off to a great start for you! Take care.

Travel With Me #3: Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Visiting this redwoods state park was a memorable nature experience for our family. The towering trees are all different in sizes and idiosyncratic features. The tallest tree at this part is around 1500 years old; these trees have experienced history over the years. It was a time machine back into history.

During our 2020 wildfires in the bay area, this park was threatened by the fires, about 2 acres damaged. I thought this park was more heavily damaged, but it was Big Basin Redwoods State Park, 30 minutes father north from Henry Cowell State Park, that had more extensive damage from the fires. Their historic buildings burned down and redwood trees scorched or badly harmed by the flames.

Hopefully, the redwood trees will regrow with more strength and resilience over the years!

Thanks Yvette for inviting me to this challenge! It’s a pleasure to share my travel photos and to reminisce. Hope everyone is doing well and staying healthy!

Bird nest building frenzy

Nests are popping up in more trees this week. Ones that were nonexistent a week ago has set up its abode safely in the crevice of tree branches. No wonder birds are darting everywhere, high and low, and chirping out orders to each other. It’s lots of work to perform for a small animal and that means many trips from gathering materials to building.

A common size nest is similar to the opening of a drinking glass cup; some are roundish on the bottom while others are upside down cones.

However, a particular nest stood out from the rest. It must’ve been constructed by bird/s; it’s a mansion compared to the others. I wonder if it belongs to a larger size bird or if several of them worked together – like a communal home for the new eggs.

I wish I were tall enough to see a furry little heads poking out or know how to operate a drone to see above the nests, but that’s wishful thinking, not to mention intrusive. They wouldn’t appreciate a curious human near their nursery.

We’ll have to settle for watching YouTube videos of spring hatching.

The idea of the nest in the bird’s mind, where does it come from?

Joseph Joubert

Till this year, I didn’t give much thought to bird nests. But this lockdown meant a lot of staying home and walking around the neighborhood masked up and maintaining social distance; we began to slow our pace and look up at the trees.

Birds must go to great lengths to build their nests and they do this every year. How do their instincts kick in to do this every winter?! Nature is full of surprising findings…look at the salmons and how they travel from sea to river to spawn eggs in the river of their birth.

Again, nature delights, teaches, inspires, and helps me see how good and great God is.

7 â€œBut ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; 8 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. 9 Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?

Job 12:7-9

Feeding the busy builder birds, at least trying to

Few years ago, one of our windows was thoroughly streaked with bird poop: only that window. Turns out it was a bird who converted the overhang into its own cozy condo. I called a local office (can’t recall the specific place) to have someone remove the nest, but I was advised to leave it undisturbed till the nest was abandoned. Dismantling the nest was illegal.

It stayed and they continued to leave daily presents for us on, under, and around the window.

So it wasn’t a surprise when recently we noticed berserk activity from a group of random birds; zipping from tree to tree. They weren’t a flock: it was just arbitrary flying around of different sized birds. When they were camouflaged inside the tree branches, we could hear little “beep” sounds, similar to a home smoke alarm that is low on battery. They’re probably building nests for spring hatching. Hopefully the nests will be built only in trees and not in the previous condo space above our window.

Hypothesis: birds are building nests for the winter; they will lay eggs soon

When we discovered small v-shaped nests in several trees, we wanted to feed them, especially during this busy building season. A quick search about healthful foods for birds explained that bananas are beneficial to birds’ healths. Perfect for using up bananas that are starting to brown.

I chopped up 2 bananas into pieces and strung it through the middle (I cored it with a small straw) with twine. Ellis crushed up nuts using a mortar and pestle, which she sprinkled over the banana. 

Strung pieces of banana through twine to hang on the tree branches
Lots of birds flying around this particular tree. We were certain the birds or squirrels would eat this nuts-banana treat, but when we checked the next day, it was untouched. We removed this treat after 2 days and put it out for the neighborhood squirrels.
A potential spot to leave our treat. When we saw the nest, we agreed to hang it on this tree. You can see the nest higher above the blue circle. The banana treat is circled in blue. I overestimated my height and underestimated the tree’s height.
Day 2 of checking on this banana treat. It was half-eaten.
Day 3. Safe to say the bird/s loved our treat. All eaten.

We enjoyed the process since we could follow up and see whether a bird had eaten the treat. It wasn’t easy going unnoticed by the birds with all the crunchy leaves littered on the ground. Although it would’ve been delightful to see the birds eating while we looked, it wasn’t going to happen with 3 pairs of eager eyes staring at them.

Conclusion: one treat by a nest was consumed. The others were pulled off the tree branches and given to squirrels. At least the leftover was consumed by a happy squirrel. Yay, we all win!

This picture was posted yesterday for “Silent Sunday” before I realized I would write a post about it.  That’s the context of this picture; kids perched on the rails calling birds, squirrels, any critter would do, to come and eat the banana treats.

“Warrior” (baby tetra) update: disappeared, probably into Platy’s fish tummy

We worked so hard to revive Warrior in its quarantine bowl. (The link tells the story of Warrior and his emergency situation). The fact that he overcame the trauma of being squished was a miracle in itself.

The next morning he swam energetically and ate a bit of new food, and it seemed like he was ready for the transfer into the main tank. The moment he swam out of its halved water bottle home, it had no problem schooling with the other Neon Tetras. The day passed without any incident and the 2 baby tetras were hanging out with the bigger ones.

On the third day, Warrior disappeared: nowhere to be found, not even stuck in the filter.

We suspect it’s the orange Platy named Sunny. She has a tendency to nip at other fish tails, eats like a maniac during feeding time, and often swims right through the middle of the schooling tetras.

It was disappointing to lose Warrior so quickly. They put her in fish jail, a separate container next to the tank. Chris explained to them that Sunny wouldn’t understand this as punishment and it would go right back to its old behavior once it returns to the main tank. But this would be an experiment then to see if the other baby tetra disappears; then, we’ll know there’s another tank-mate-eater.

Right after Sunny’s transfer into fish jail. Odd behavior: motionless, even when offered food.

You wouldn’t believe Sunny’s immediate reaction to being put in the bowl. She stayed motionless at the bottom next to the plastic pink tree. Even her favorite pellets did not animate her; they just floated down untouched.

It was unbelievable to observe this dramatic behavior change.

When we peered in the bowl, she turned away and faced the bottom of the tree accessory.

We didn’t want her to die from stress, so she went into the main tank. Even there, she acted the same way. She hid in the corner, normally where the catfish hang out, and would not swim. Once we turned off the lights, she swam away from the corner for a bit and darted back when we looked into the tank.

Elliot was all nerves thinking that Sunny may feast on the remaining baby tetra. So I had to tape up the netted container onto the side of the tank as a protective holding place.

Baby tetra holding spot until it gets bigger. It gets a lot of attention from its tank mates; catfish clean the bottom of the holder and other fish love to enjoy on the baby food leftovers that disperses in the water.

The tank is peaceful once again and none has disappeared. Kids are appeased and still dreaming of getting a larger tank. ummmmm, no. These little bloops stress me out and flares up my bad knee pain. It’s only a 10 gallon tank, but it needs cleaning, care, fish relationship mediation, cleaning up after kids overfeed and drip water everywhere, and clean the tub from old poopy fish water. ughhhhh, no thanks.

Readers, thank you for reading this far…I realize this topic may not be entertaining as it’s about fish that you have not spent time with. But I appreciate you following my story about these little fishies and hope you learned something new about fish keeping from our experience.