More cold, more birds!

Sheesh! It was even cooler and maybe darker this morning than yesterday, if you can believe it, but let’s get right to the main event. There is a new batch of ducklings on the pond, and it’s five mallards this time. They probably just hatched overnight or this morning, and would you look at those little cuties! We saw how the cooler temps brought out the birds yesterday, but this is above and beyond. They just happened to catch my eye from the little bay east of the island as I was standing on the west lawn and wrapping up my second visit. Talk about luck.

During my first visit, I also found that our black duck hen has now accumulated three mallard hens to keep her company.

And a young blue heron was scarfing down fish again.

I didn’t see the wood ducks, but I didn’t want to disturb the heron, so I moved on and look who I saw at the river while I was looking for beaver.

It was also chowing down on a fish, and I can’t say for sure if it is our pal from a few weeks ago, but the size and location are about right.

There were more fishermen than usual in the vicinity of the falls, so nothing to see there this morning, and I continued to the north end. Along the way, there was another heron on the far shore, so not very photogenic, and a group of pretty waxwings feasting on flies close enough for me to capture these images.

Between the islands, I spotted our third blue heron of the morning, an adult this time and taking a break from fishing.

And beside the northern island, here’s heron number 4 hard at work…

And then heron number 5 flew in! Jeepers!

I also saw the mallard hen with 3 ducklings we’ve seen often and a female hooded merganser who is probably the same one we saw on the pond yesterday, but they were all pretty far out, so I didn’t waste my film and headed back to the pond.

On my second visit, besides the new mallard ducklings already mentioned above, the wood ducks made a beeline toward the west lawn as soon as I sat on the bench.

Best of all, they all hopped right up on the grass.

That, of course, emboldened the black duck and mallards to join them, at which point it became a circus of pecking orders, cue Yakity Sax, and they all ended up chasing each other back into the water in short order.

Lastly, it was too cold for butterflies, but this warm-blooded little cutie called softly to me as I walked past the weeds beside the soccer fields, so here you go. Based on the “grayish face”, “reddish-brown markings”, and “thick, triangular mustache”, I’m leaning towards a song sparrow (Melospiza melodia). The mustache may also be called a “malar stripe”, which one clever blogger introduced as his bird-nerd-word of the day, and the read is as fun as the title.

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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