After the oddly slow day yesterday, I was relieved to see a lot more activity in the park today. It’s the start of the spring semester at UWM, so maybe that’s what was going on.
First up was this lonely little female common merganser trying to get cozy with a few mallards on the lower river, and this one female mallard was simply not having it. I watched her try to get close only to be shooed away at least three times, so I’m pretty sure I was seeing what I think I was seeing, and this wasn’t just some random drifting with the currents. Nothing too aggressive on either’s part, at least that I saw, but pretty clear that something was going on. It must be tough to be a transfer student.
Next, the female goldeneye, that we first saw just this past Saturday, was back in the same spot and by herself again. Maybe she been to the upper river, where the crowd usually hangs out, and thinks it is just a meat market.
Not much further beyond that scene, I heard a bustle, no, not in my hedgerow, but high up in an oak tree. It took me a moment to find it and then another to figure out what was going on. As best as I can tell, about a half dozen European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), which I knew were here but hadn’t seen in the park before now, were raiding one of the many grey squirrel nests that dot the trees in the park.
I mean, they were really going to town on that thing, like maybe they don’t have these in Europe, or something. I took a ton of pictures, but I was shooting almost straight up against a bright white sky, and so the results aren’t the greatest, but I think you can get the idea. Half the time, all you can see is some tails sticking out, which doesn’t really facilitate identifying the birds. I wonder if they were just after a cache of nuts, or if they found something more-substantial? We may never know.
After all that excitement, I finally made it to the falls and was glad to see the upper river packed with dozens of mallards. Phew! Plus, the buffleheads and one male goldeneye were back, too, though they didn’t seem as happy to see me as I was to see them.
Finally, I swung by the pond to see who might be about, and the place was lined with pretty little puffballs: a female northern cardinal, a dark-eyed junco, and a this time I’m going with purple finch because of the lack of “heavy brown streaks under the wings.”
Lastly, on my way home along the Oak Leaf Trial, I encounter a few more juncos feasting on staghorn sumac seeds. Probably freshmen, right?