This morning got off to a great start in Estabrook when this red-tailed hawk, a fierce-looking beauty, flew across the soccer fields and perched on a light pole right over the southern parking lot. It stayed for a bit and then when back to hunting.
At the pond, I was happy to see that our young night-heron was back again and looking as sleepy as ever.
As I was standing on the west lawn trying to get a decent picture of the night-heron across the pond, this mallard walked right up to me, probably to see if I had anything to eat. I said, “sorry, Sweetie, I’ve got nothing for you, but can I take your picture?” She said, “sure but make it quick.” Then she waddled back to the water, hopped back in, and resumed foraging.
As I continued around the north end of the pond, I spotted this green heron enjoying a bit of luck.
Just beyond the heron, this squirrel was back to munching on nuts on a branch above the little bridge in the path.
The Pedia of Wik reports that “squirrels sometimes use deceptive behavior to prevent other animals from retrieving cached food. They will pretend to bury the object if they feel that they are being watched. They do this by preparing the spot as usual, for instance, digging a hole or widening a crack, miming the placement of the food, while actually concealing it in their mouths, and then covering up the “cache” as if they had deposited the object. They also hide behind vegetation while burying food or hide it high up in trees (if their rival is not arboreal). Such a complex repertoire suggests that the behaviors are not innate and imply theory of mind thinking.” They sound as crafty as they look cute. Who knew?
Anyway, besides three wood ducks, that’s all I saw at the pond, so I headed for the river, and on the way I spotted this dashing little devil sporting a prominent “vest” on its chest, which makes it an olive-sided flycatcher (Contopus cooperi) instead of the similarly colored eastern wood-pewee, which does not “have as strong of a vested look” and which I believe we saw last fall. Anyway, we’re just south of its summer breeding grounds, so this one is probably on its way back to South America for the winter. Safe travels, little buddy!
As I was trying to get a shot of the flycatcher, look who else was busily hopping around in that same tree. As best as I can tell, she’s a female American redstart (Setophaga ruticilla), but I’m not positive. If anyone has a better suggestion, please be sure to let me know! We’re solidly in her breeding grounds, but she winters over in Central America and points south, so if she really is a redstart, she’s got a ways to go, too.
When I finally reached the river, I didn’t find anything new to show you, so I headed back south, and along the way I encountered a little troupe of chickadees practicing their acrobatics on some cutleaf coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata), which is yet another aster.
Finally, at the soccer fields, I found a monarch with a taste for goldenrod at last.