autumn

Red Phalarope – visitor from Tundra

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Red Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius were seen several days at Kolka cape. It is a wading bird which has been observed only six times in Latvia. This bird species nest in Arctic regions while winter they spend in southern hemisphere. It has reached Latvia mistakenly as normally their migration path is further away from our country. Peculiar is their feeding method – while swimming they circle around in the water making swirls that bring up different invertebrates they feed on.They return to their nesting places in late May and lay four sometimes three eggs in simple small pit on the coast of a lake. What is interesting that about three weeks only male Red Phalarope brood. Even later when chicks are hatched, male is the one to lead them in big world.

In the video material it can be seen that while swimming among waves it feed on different invertebrates, only this time sea itself mixes water and seaweed. Little bird only has to pick it up.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rooiw56fsfE

Badgers

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Badgers are diggers. They live in families and clans making cave systems where groundwater is deep and there is some solid rock layer that can serve as a ceiling. In Slitere National Park this layer is sandstone. Badger rut is in the middle of summer when they are rutting quite passionate. Mating can last even one hour. After that latent period starts and fertilized ovum starts developing only six months later, when winter has ended and spring has begun.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYUlqgtJ3cE

In early spring young ones are born. They spend their first 2 months in dark caves. Usually they come out of the cave in June and stay near it. They start to explore the surroundings. At first they stay beside the entrance of the cave and sometimes explore few meters around it. Parents do not mind. When frightened, cubs run into the cave without hesitation. After some time mother starts to walk around with cubs at first some 10 meters away from the cave and then further and further. The young ones tries to copy mothers behaviour and learns how to find food – invertebrates, small rodents, amphibians and reptiles, berries and grain. They also learn how to escape enemies and explore surroundings. In autumn, cubs become independent. Sometimes, if the cave system is large enough, parents let the little ones stay in empty part of the cave system, but usually young badgers spend their first winters someplace else. Before winter badgers clean their caves and bring in new materials like moss, ferns and grass. When weather becomes colder they dig special caves to sleep in and go to sleep. Some narrow vertical tunnels serve as aperture for ventilation. They use up their fat layer during winter but sometimes in early spring you can see badger track in the snow. Even for badger it is hard to sleep all winter.

Moose and deer rut

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Right now the rut has begun for moose and red deer. During rutting-time bulls butt trees and bushes and scrape ground. Secretory glands are situated on legs and head and allow marking the territory. Bulls starts to scrape pits and urinate in them few weeks before rut itself has started to stimulate female rutting.

Moose is the biggest deer in the world. Adult male moose stands about 2 m high at the shoulder, weigh till half ton and has almost 3 m long body. Female moose is smaller and lighter. Red deer are smaller. Only males has tournament weapon – antlers. These antlers make rivals tremble in fear and females in excitement. Every autumn after mating season moose will drop its antlers. A new set of antlers will then regrow in the spring. Deer gets to walk around with its antlers until March.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVVSSHSODIQ

Moose eats branches more than any other deer in Latvia. Its long muzzle and “trunk-like” upper lip is suitable for branch picking. Adult moose in winter can eat 10 – 13 kg tree plants, but in summer about 30-40 kg herbs. Red deer feed on browse, leafs, herbs, lichen, etc. During mating season animals become a lot thinner because a lot of energy is used to attract females. That is why during harsh winters some of strongest males die as they have used too much energy at rut and has not managed to gain flesh.