The cold remains, but some color returns…

After getting skunked for the last few days, I’ve finally got something to show you, and given the nature of this project, perhaps I should clarify that by “skunked” I mean coming up empty, not being sprayed by a skunk, which I would definitely endure in exchange for a good picture, but that would be a different story. I saw no skunks in the park today.

Instead, I enjoyed the rare treat of this truly magnificent creature tolerating my presence at a surprisingly close range while it was waiting for another crack at a squirrel who was busy warning everyone within earshot, and I am not to surprised to read that squirrels listen to other birds to assess the danger.

I spotted what I hoped might be a raptor from seemingly a mile away, and I had to check with binoculars to make sure it wasn’t just some snow on a tree. As I made my way towards it, at one point it made a try for a squirrel, but came up empty, and I was thrilled when it settle back down in the vicinity for me to continue my pursuit. In the end, I even crossed some of the frozen river, all the while trying to make it look like I wasn’t ever walking straight towards it, as my friend Drew suggested. I ended up about 20 feet away and right next to a tree to which I could hold my camera to eliminate jiggling. After I figured I must have gotten one good shot (out of 50+!) I continued north and was able to confirm from behind that it is indeed a red-tailed hawk, not some cheap knock-off, and it might even be the one we saw back in January feasting on a different squirrel.

Anyway, the river continues to freeze over, but a slew of intrepid goldeneyes, common mergansers, and even some mallards are sticking around in the few remaining wet spots. There was not a single water fowl on the upper river today, however, and that was long after the one bald eagle I saw had already flown past.

Instead, a certain chickadee almost seemed unwilling to admit it had made a mistake by landing on a branch too closed to me. As I carefully took out my camera, it pretended not to notice that I was only 6 feet away and quite casually went about its business. Sweet.

After glimpsing an eagle and photographing a hawk, I had a hope that I might get lucky at the pond, and I did, but not in the way I expected. Instead, these two colorful characters provided these close-ups that almost looked staged, right?

And these little cuties could not seem to be less concerned about me. I half expected either one of them to check my head next. I’ve thought there must be bugs in there for years now.

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.

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