Not a bad outing…

The park was very quiet this morning, under a cold grey sky, and things got off to a pretty slow start. When I arrived at the pond, this little critter was gleaning scraps that the geese and ducks failed to find on the west lawn.

The goose on the southern tip of the island was still on her nest, and as I walked around to the north side to check on the second one, I accidentally spooked these two.

That’s right, a pair of blue-winged teals right on our tiny little pond. They booked clockwise around the island, so I headed counterclockwise to meet them on the other side, where I was able to capture this slightly nicer portrait of the drake. Oh, and the second goose is also still incubating.

There was a kingfisher again, and I think a female for a change, but she eluded me, so I headed down to the river. Neither robin was on her nest this morning, but that’s not necessarily bad news yet. They could be still laying their clutches and not yet incubating.

Above the falls, I stopped to scan ahead to see if there is anybody I should try not too spook, and look who I saw. Hot Diggity Dog! With that white beak and black body, it sure looks like an American coot, so I headed off in hot pursuit, taking the back way, where I hoped it wouldn’t see me coming.

When I got up beside that northern island, there was no coot to be found, sadly, but as I searched in vain, I did spot another teal, this time a solo drake amongst the geese.

Oh well. I figured I might as well pick up the new trash brought in by the high water, and after a bit, look who decided to show up.

This is indeed an American coot (Fulica americana) stopping to preen right under the fallen tree trunk on which the muskrat rested two days ago. Ha!

With a spring in my step, I headed back south along the river, and I hadn’t gotten more than a couple hundred yards, when this handsome downy woodpecker couple obliged me as they foraged in front of a nice dark background, instead of the grey sky, which had brightened.

So, now I was pretty anxious to get home, and I continued along the river, but took the higher path, where I expected to find much less litter to distract and slow me down. This was my reward. I probably wasn’t even 20 feet away when he or she popped out of the water and paused a bit to scratch a few itches before continuing upstream.

This one even showed off its webbed hind foot.

Now I really wanted to get home, but I had to stopped for this pretty little sight. That’s early meadow rue (Thalictrum dioicum) looking like the buds of a bunch of flowers before it opens up and turns into green leaves instead.

Here’s a quick look at the progression from tiny purple balls into little green leaves.

Okay, now I am finally heading home, but there’s this one spot right on the water where a bunch of fresh white Styrofoamâ„¢ scraps has accumulated, and it is actually still early, and I even still have a couple of empty bags in my pocket, so I make just one more stop.

As I’m crouched down, intently picking up mostly just the bigger pieces so at least it isn’t an eyesore from the trail, look who I just happened to notice also intently foraging. An American coot again, giving me a third chance for a decent photo!

I don’t know if there is more than one on the river right now, but this little rascal was hardly 6 feet away from me, and maybe didn’t notice me either, until I looked up. At that point, I guess it figured that if I was going to eat it, I would have already, so it just kept on foraging as I slowly took out my camera to started taking pictures. I absolutely could not believe my luck. It eventually worked its way around the tiny peninsula of drift wood I was on, and then calmly headed down river.

Will wonders ever cease? A that point, I just floated home on a cloud and found my keys on the first try, securely zipped into my fleece breast pocket, right where I put them.

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.

4 thoughts on “Not a bad outing…

  1. WOW! What an eventful morning! And you thought it was going to be quiet and slow! I think all the critters at the Park are getting so used to you being around that they’re good with co-living with you. I also note that due to the rain last week the trees are starting to green up.


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