This morning got off to a pretty inauspicious start with grey skies and hardly a sight to see for the whole length of the river. Near the north end, at least, I did see the mallard ducklings again, but they high-tailed it for the far shore.
When I got to the downy and red-bellied woodpecker chicks in their nests, I tried to improve upon previous pictures, but without much luck. Instead, this cute little chipmunk must have taken pity on me and came out to put on a show for us.
And that’s when I heard some loud mallard honking, so I looked back south to see if I could see what all the fuss was about, and you wouldn’t believe who was back and looking like he’s ready for some breakfast: our old pall, the great horned owl.
But the mallards were not giving up so easily and really circled the wagons. At one point I counted 3 hens and a drake all protecting the 5 ducklings and each other.
The owl hopped down the log a bit, and the mallards held their ground (held their water?)
Then the owl surprised all of us and hopped into the water himself, but to the side, not toward the mallards.
He waded around a bit, and got a little closer to the mallards, who oddly did not just swim away, as they do with me.
But he never really made a move, and maybe all he ever wanted was a sip of that sweet, sweet Milwaukee River water and a bath.
He soaked for a bit…
Hopped back up on his log…
Then he flew up into a big tree across the river, a sight which I failed to capture, and the mallards went right back to going about their business. Crisis averted for now.
After all that excitement, I didn’t even bother to continue all the way to the north end, and headed straight for home instead. As I passed the pond, I thought to myself, what the heck, I might as well check in. I’m right here anyway. Well, I could hardly believe my eyes.
That’s right, a wood duck hen appears to be taking her nine (9!) ducklings on their maiden voyage this morning.
The little rascals were quite rambunctious and would not clump together as photogenically as the mallards do. The best I can do for a portrait is crop out a few.
Finally, after all that, as if the morning was really trying to drive the lesson home that I just need a little patience, even a muskrat came out to say hi.
And with that, I drifted home on a cloud for the umpteenth time this year.