An early start for a change.

I hit the park a little earlier than usual this morning, before sunrise, and mostly because I was awake anyway, but also to see if I’d been missing anything lately. You may have noticed that I’ve been waiting for enough light to get good warbler and vireo pictures, but we know there’s plenty of action before then.

Well, the first sight to greet me was a great blue heron fishing in the mist where the rapids resume after the big, wide, slow part of the river below the falls. What an absolute treat.

Here’s a close-up, in case you’re viewing this on your phone and can’t even see the heron in the image above.

As I was busy trying to decide just how wide to make that shot and also trying to catch the heron with its neck in that picturesque s-shape so it’s all backlit by the reflection off the water, look who just happened to swim by.

Yup. That’s our old pal, the beaver, who we haven’t seen in weeks. I guess that’s what I’ve been missing, eh?

At the north end, the killdeer were back, and the sun had finally come up to light the scene.

Another heron, this one with full, mature plumage, was taking a break from fishing and perhaps also warming its bones in the warm morning sun. It was a cold morning.

And a female hooded merganser, with quite the “hood” for a change, was busy fishing for crayfish, but I didn’t see her have any luck. Maybe that trio of youngsters ate them all a couple of weeks ago, but I hope not.

On shore, another young indigo bunting, with just a few hints of blue, was keeping tabs on me.

The big treat for me, though, was that there were more waterthrushes, and they were being way less coy than usual.

I’ve never seen one just stare me down like this before.

They’re on their way to southern Mexico or the rest of Central America, so maybe they were just super hungry.

On my way back south along the river, I was happy to see our goose couple with three good wings between them still looking otherwise healthy. The injured one rested while the other foraged nearby with four others, and after I stood on the shore a while trying to compose the perfect picture, it came over to check in and maybe suggest that I just keep it moving, Buddy. Sure thing, Pal!

Finally, if you’ve been to the park lately, you know that the squirrels have a ton of nuts to eat or hide before the snow flies, and this one was doing its part.

As has been the norm lately, I got a ton of pictures this morning, and I won’t have time for the park tomorrow, so I saved a few to post then, so be sure to tune in to see who else was on the prowl today.

Lastly, the forecast for the Shorewood Fish & Feather Festival this Saturday is now “cloudy in the morning with scattered thunderstorms developing later in the day,” so if you’re planning on stopping by to say “hi”, and I sure hope you do, you might want to come earlier rather than later.

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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