The sun comes out…

Man, oh man, I sure hope you got a chance to get outside today, and not just to shovel your car out of a snowbank, because it was a stunner. I had to go to campus early, so didn’t hit the park till this afternoon when the sun came out and the sky turned that special, dry-winter-air, blue. Talk about lucky timing.

Anyway, the common mergansers are getting thick on the lower river. I counted 10 females and 3 males today. Here’s a few females and one male preening in the sun on an ice sheet.

Here’s a female struggling to land her fish as a female mallard looks on languidly.

Here they are, with the female still wrasslin’ with her fish, heading down river after my presence on the trail disturbed them. Sorry.

Further north, at the abandoned railroad bridge abutment, perhaps this nuthatch is getting its mineral supplement for the day. This entire site along the river was formerly a quarry for the Milwaukee Cement Company, hence the railroad bridge I suppose, and so the minerals are most likely locally-sourced and all-natural. I was looking just about straight up when I took this.

Next, just a bit farther north, on the slope up from the boardwalk along the river to the beer garden, I was treated to this magical sight.

As we’ve already discussed, we think that’s either a veery or a hermit thrush, depending on whether the full eye ring carries more weight than the cinnamon head and back.

I should have just gone home after that.

The buffleheads are still just above the falls, and the mallards were back on the upper river, but they have moved even further north so too far away for good pictures. I went by the pond, but have nothing to show for it. On my way home along the river, I did see a big gathering of common mergansers and even a male goldeneye with two females (finally! right?), but nothing worth posting. There was even a herring gull standing on the far shore with a big fish, but got it swallowed before I could even get my camera out. Next time!

Meanwhile, long-time reader and eagle-eyed Bonnie points out that the junco we saw recently by the pond has dark marks on its otherwise light-colored beak. These cause me to lean even more towards thinking that it really is a visiting Oregon dark-eyed junco, among whom this seems to occur often enough to be easy to find online.

Finally, it appears that we are not the only ones enjoying the antics of aquatic birds. Check out this video, surfing duck, shared by our Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at UWM in his weekly status report. Don’t worry, it is safe for work, refreshingly brief, and you don’t need to have sound on.

Published by Andrew Dressel

Theoretical and Applied Bicycle Mechanic, and now, apparently, Amateur Naturalist. In any case, my day job is teaching mechanics at UWM.

One thought on “The sun comes out…

  1. Ahhh! That IS a black spot. I thought maybe something like the snow on the cardinal beak.
    These mergansers in the sun are stunning!
    I hope this comes through…but I had to raise Johannes’ surfing duck with this cat engaged in a live virtual planetarium event. Stewie on Friday.


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