Saturday, February 22, 2014

And..., They're Back.

Cave Swallows (Petrochelidon fulva).
Well, three of them at least; here in Marathon, north Brewster County.

Two of the three may have quickly determined this previous year(s)'s nest quite adequate.

Cave Swallows

Who else is ready for Spring?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Introducing dead fish...

Please start here.

This is the segment in which we are glad that there's no 'scratch-and-sniff' feature on the internet. Dead fish, live fish, and digested fish are our themes for today.

Our biggest challenge in tending the Mergus was finding REAL fish. Scales and bones are hard to find in the canned food aisle, and in even shorter supply in the dog food and fish oil diet. A day of rest and a few days of kibble puree is probably enough to make any respectable fish-eater swear off of non-fish... but this happened to be right before Christmas in a little desert town where no bait shops existed within a three hour drive. There are two saints in this story, and they're not us. One sent a donation to offset expenses, the other showed up with a giant cooler of WHOLE FISH, a small tank of goldfish (training fish, we hoped), PILES of paper towels, and a heart of gold. And came from half way across the state to bring us these fishy gifts.

After Merg's first meal of REAL fish, her energy levels increased dramatically.

Coordination continued to improve, floating became basically level, foot action was strong. Dabbling became more frequent, as did the 'rearing up' - of course, no attention at all was paid to any of the dead fish in the tub. Float time was consistently after meal time, however, so that may explain some of it.

Giant, smelly, interesting poop (honestly, I thought we had a poop tag for this blog, but apparently we do not - unfortunate, really, we should remedy that). Kibble poops were uneventful until they began to smell like ammonia, at which point we tripled the amount of food per meal; but even 15 ml of slurry is feeble compared to one juicy finger mullet. The struggle to get 3 servings of sludge down a throat is just not as serene as the easy, slick, head-first slip of the fish... almost like the bird and fish are made for each other...

Oh, and happy very-belated Darwin Day!

 I have no idea why the photo below looks so... frosty? Sticky? Weird - it just looks dark and wet until it's on the big screen. Eyes closed, resting after a VERY splashy adventure... we'll call that progress.

Bonus videos: click here (#17)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Dexterity challenges

Please start the Mergus saga here: Mergus in waiting, round 1

*** the weird angled sides on the vids are driving me up the wall, haven't figured out how to make those go away, apologies!

When Mergus first arrived, we had little hope. As her range of motion increased, however, the progress was undeniable. She was able to scratch her beak with her left foot fairly early on, but it took a bit longer for the left foot to be used.

Initially, when placed in her box after a float, she was unable to stand. Mustering the strength to not only stand, but to PREEN (feather maintenance is critical, after all), it was a little snapshot of near normalcy in a situation that was anything but normal.

Range of motion for Merg's head: vastly improving. Instead of tucking slightly left and drooping, well, see for yourself:

Bonus video from the preening session: still too dark to see much detail on anything but the beak, which still looks pretty bad, in terms of alignment. Click here to watch the video.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Small Checkered Skipper

...and we thought spring was going to wait until March or April... guess we need to bust out the black lights because things really ARE moving! Apologies for the incredibly low photo quality here; this was a VERY fresh Small Checkered Skipper (Pyrgus scriptura) taken at the ponds SW of Marathon yesterday (16 Feb 2014), digital zoom makes it look oddly, unfortunately blocky.

Small Checkered Skipper (Pyrgus scriptura), 16 February 2014, Brewster Co, TX
I recall Small Checkered Skippers being much smaller than this individual seemed (more like Western Pygmy Blues than Common/White Checkered Skippers), and later in the morning we did see a Common/White Checkered Skipper at Post Park - and it really did seem about the same size. Confusing, especially since many early flying leps are smaller than their later-season counterparts.

That said, Post Park and the water crossings on Post Road were FILLED with Mourning Cloaks. Wonderful early fliers, and able to stay aloft in the breeze. Post Road also had a gaggle of pronghorn antelope; they have been absent for some time.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Drinks like a sailor... and that's about it

If you're just joining us, please start at the first post for back story on this Common Merganser in rehab: Mergust in waiting, round 1!

We catch up with Mergus still fairly new into this floating business, and she's thirsty:

While she's gradually leveling off (in terms of floating), a trend of concern is starting to become apparent: most of her movement is going backwards, and clockwise.

Now, back to our previously mentioned drinking like a sailor... and floating lethargically...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Texas Powdered Skipper

Finally a sign of spring that is not a Sleepy Orange, Reakirt's Blue, or Checkered White! Or 80+ degree temps... but we'll take what we can get! Even if the pics are shoddy...

Texas Powdered Skipper (Systasea pulverulenta) 10 February, 2014, Marathon, TX.
Not a bad yard bug for Dos BaƱos, either! 
(Blog post failed to post on scheduled day, so post date may be out of order!)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Dead man's float

If you're just joining us on the adventure of "there's a merganser in the tub" please see the first post for context!

Apologies for poor video quality, and less than stunning scenery.

The two videos here are for the purpose of illustrating lethargy and uneven floating. Other than drinking, the first day of floating might as well have been with a decoy in the tub.

Second day of floating involved a little more kicking. We wanted to limit movement for the first few days in case of internal injury that could be aggravated with too much movement; our fears seemed to be mostly unfounded, thankfully.