For now the rain has abated but yesterday alone we got over three inches here in McMinnville. We’ve had over seventeen inches since October 1st.
Right now ducks are celebrating a great Thanksgiving weekend hre in the Willamette Valley. The heavy rain has creeks over their banks. Low-lying fields are now shallow seasonal ponds. Water, water, everywhere. At Yamhill Sewer Ponds most of the Shovelers were on one of those pasture ponds. During the first floods of fall the feeding is rich. Everything that floats or can swim is at or near the surface or sloshing across the field to higher ground. Insects, spiders, spiders’ eggs, seeds, crustaceans, worms, voles and moles, mice and shrews. So the diners were present: a couple hundred Shovelers on the water. A couple dozen crows and a couple thousand starlings on higher ground. Even a Ring-billed Gull settled onto the pond to check out the action.
Today’s magic word: Daphnia. I asked the Yamhill sanitation engineer who was busy dealing with pumps and valves, “What are the small animals in these ponds that duck s will eat.”
“Daphnia,” He answered.
He went on to explain the Daphnia especially like the southeastern pond where the fresh sewage enters, loaded with bits of carrot, potato and other goodies from the local restaurants.
The daphnia is called a “freshwater flea.” This does not mean they are six-legged insects. They are, in fact, planktonic crustaceans. They can be up to .2 inch long and live in a wide variety of aquatic habitats. Daphnia can reproduce in two ways, asexually or sexually, and one female can produce up to forty generations of new females in a warm season. They swim by use of two feathery extensions from the mouth-end. Their thin carapace is often transparent which makes them a favorite in biology class because all the innards are visible through a microscope while the animal is still alive. No dissection required. Click here for more on the world of Daphnia.
Starlings overlooking the pond, then murmurating like mad, note one Crow caught up in the flurry of wings. The flock was so large is sounded like a bus engine.Thankful squirrels in our garden.
Yamhill Sewage Ponds (restricted access), Yamhill, Oregon, US
Nov 25, 2016 11:15 AM – 12:00 PM
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) 300
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca) 2
Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis) 6
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) 16
Wilson’s Snipe (Gallinago delicata) 2
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) 1
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) X
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus) 2
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) 1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica) 2
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) 25
American Robin (Turdus migratorius) 1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) 2000
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) 3
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) 1
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) 3
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria) 8 on a backyard feeder northwest of the ponds