The mourning warbler was in the same tree this morning, by the soccer fields, sending out his call in hopes of finding someone to share Estabrook Park with, and I sure hope he succeeds, don’t you?
Under the bright overcast, I think you can see his colors a little better than yesterday. He is a tiny bird, and thank goodness he likes that dead oak tree because in the birch tree right beside it, which is only half leafed out and looks like it is barely hanging on, I can never find him, despite his bright yellow belly.
Along the river, I stopped by the downy woodpecker nest again just in time to catch this quick transfer.
But while I was there keeping my distance and waiting for another shot, I could here both a red-bellied woodpecker calling and another little incessant chirping. Sure enough, almost right above where I thought would be a nice safe distance from the downy nest, it seems I was too close for comfort to a red-bellied nest, so I snapped this pic of a young red-bellied woodpecker looking for Mom or Dad or both to deliver its breakfast. Then I made like a tree and leaved.
And, as if all those woodpeckers weren’t enough action, here’s a bold little red squirrel sneaking a maple tree seed from under the noses of a passel of its big grey cousins.
That’s become quite a busy spot in the woods.
Meanwhile, out on the water, I spotted a few mallards, without ducklings today, a couple of sandpipers, and this family of geese. I actually bumped into the geese on my way north and again on my way south, and I’m pretty sure there are just 4 goslings and only 1 adult. They must have run into some serious trouble and still appear to be making the best of things. A buddy of mine from high school, Rick, had an aunt who used to say, “When you have no choice, nothing is hard,” and that seems to apply here.
I also ran into another dear friend from last summer, this stunningly beautiful giant ichneumon wasp (Megarhyssa atrata) with an ovipositor that looks like a cardiac needle, and now that we’re old friends, I didn’t need to pick myself up off of the ground before snapping this shot. She continued north searching for hardwoods in which horntail wasps have laid their eggs, and I continued south.
Finally, thanks to a tip from Kate B., a fellow birder and frequent park visitor, I knew to look for this magnificent creature, a common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) of good size, who appeared to be making his or her way to the river. I’ve seen how far they can reach with their razor sharp beaks, and I didn’t have a snow shovel handy, which I used to keep in the trunk of my car all summer for just such purposes in upstate NY, so I did not offer to help with the journey as I could with the red-eared slider last summer.
By sheer coincidence, he or she was almost directly below the mourning warbler, who was in the same tree as two hours before, and I enjoyed his smooth jazz stylings as I took these pictures.
Lastly, long-time reader and frequent commenter, Karen W., reports that the monarch butterfly I showed you yesterday and guessed was a female, instead “looks like a male monarch. You can make out a faint spot in the closed wing photo. I’ve raised monarchs for 2 decades and have gotten good at telling male/female even with closed wings.”
I’m not going to argue with 2 decades of experience.
I know I already wrote “finally” and “lastly”, but Karen’s correction reminds me that I also goofed up on the three-toed woodpecker identification from out west last week. What I thought was an American three-toed woodpecker in Glacier National Park was actually a black-backed woodpecker.
Instead, I found the American three-toed woodpecker, with a patch of white on its back, in Yellowstone just a few days later.
Thanks to the keen eye of instagram follower magszpot, who reports “I only knew because I recently completed a painting project at work where I painted the different woodpecker species in Wisconsin. The black-backed can be found in northern Wisconsin, although I have never seen one myself.”
Talk about luck, eh?