Just a great day in the park.

Holy Moly! What a gorgeous morning. I can hardly believe we got two of these days in a row. I hope you get to enjoy it while it lasts.

When I got to the pond, Ol’ Snappy was making ripples in the surface and the ducks were jumpy. I’m not sure, however, if Ol’ Snappy was making them jumpy, or if it was just the sheer number of ducks. I counted 14 wood ducks and 5 mallards so 19 in all, which might be a record.

Anyway, here’s a young wood duck avoiding a nip from a mallard.

And here’s a wood duck trying to give another wood duck a nip.

It wasn’t all antagonistic, however, and here’s a pair of wood ducks nuzzling.

And here’s a wood duck just enjoying the beautiful weather, perhaps, and showing off its pretty new adult flight feathers. They haven’t been chowing down on frogs and crayfish all summer for nothing.

There were no herons today, and I failed to get a picture of Ol’ Snappy, so I headed to the river where I found another mallard relaxing in the morning sun.

The big surprise from the river, however, was a pair of deer. I spooked the mom, by accident, and managed to catch a glimpse of the fawn, and then I left them alone.

At the north end, where I used to see indigo buntings regularly last summer, but from where they’ve been missing for most of this summer, one finally stopped in to say hi.

It was surprisingly unfazed by me, and just went about its chirping and preening as I inched closer and closer.

Eventually, it even started to air out its feathers in the morning sun.

I didn’t want to use up all my film on just one bird, so I took a couple of sunbathing pictures and headed back south.

I wasn’t planning to visit the pond again, but by the time I got to the boardwalk below the beer garden, I had accumulated a bag full of plastic, left behind by the recent high water, so I headed up the stairs to deposit it in the bin there. At that point, staying up on the bluff was the path of least resistance, so off to the pond I went.

There, Ol’ Snappy made it worth my while and gave me a second chance.

Then I scanned the rest of the pond, and spotted another turtle, but as I tried to get a picture of it, look who was lurking in the background. Ha! It’s the young night heron again.

Since I posted the pictures from the previous sighting on Instagram, I’ve heard that one person disagrees and two agree with my call that it is a young yellow-crowned night-heron a bit north of its usual range and not a black-crowned night-heron like the one we saw on the pond last summer. We’ll see if that trend holds when I post these new pictures.

Finally, as I continued south, I spotted a green heron fishing in the southeast corner of the pond. I took a couple of shots from the west side, but the sun was still in the east so the light was bad, and I know there’s a little path down to the water in that corner, so I walked around to see if this heron would let me get that close.

Well, today was my lucky day, because yet again, a normally shy bird was way less shy than usual. Check out what good light makes possible.

It even pretended not to notice when I snuck back up the path from the water to finally go home. By that time, however, the Farmers Market was in full swing, and I didn’t need to be walking through that in the full Ranger Rick costume I had on because it was just 59° out when I left the house this morning, so I made a beeline down the Oak Leaf instead to see if any of my pictures came out. Happily, it seems some have.

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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