A Monday chock full o’ surprises.

This morning was supposed to be dark and grey, again, so I lolled in bed till 6:30, and the reward for my sloth was about an hour of warm morning sun and even a bit of bright blue sky. Do not get me thinking that sloth might pay!

Anyway, by the time I managed to stroll up the parkway, this grey squirrel was also enjoying the morning sun and blue sky with a tasty looking nut in a comfortable looking perch on top of a lamp post.

At the pond, another photographer was deep into a session with the wood ducks on the west lawn, so I just captured a quick image over his shoulder and made a bee line for the river.

Happily, I made it to the river just in time to capture one more, well-lit glimpse of a yellow-rumped warbler before the clouds rolled back in.

“That’s right, little cutie, I’m looking at you, and thanks for sitting still for a millisecond.”

They will eventually all bug out to Illinois or further, for the winter, so we gotta enjoy them while we can.

After I captured what I figured was going to be as good a warbler image as I was going to get, I turned my gaze to the river, and you will not believe what I saw. First one…

then Two…

then THREE…

THEN FOUR, YES FOUR, RIVER DEER!

(Disclaimer: “River deer” are not a “thing”, of course, and I just get a kick out of calling them that. Instead, for those of you just joining our show already in progress, these are white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), the only deer we have, and who just happen to be taking advantage of the low water to cross the river to graze on the island for a change. Maybe I’d better call them island deer.)

Anyway, also out on the water, the pair of female blue-winged teals were still here, yay, and this one took a moment to demonstrate how they got at least part of their name. I suspect “teal” is for the “greyish blue head” of adult males. In any case, they soon will be on their way to “the Pacific and Atlantic coasts and south into the Caribbean islands and Central America.

Meanwhile, back on shore, a white-throated sparrow checked in…

A gray catbird stopped by…

An American goldfinch said “hi”…

And this male downy woodpecker completely ignored me.

I can’t tell if that’s a tasty morsel or just a wood chip, but let’s hope for the former, eh?

Finally, I made one more scan of the mallards out on the water, and looky who I found. That black bill, grey face, and long neck makes me think we’ve got ourselves a female pintail. How about that?!?!? She’s only got to fly the length of Illinois to her wintering grounds, so perhaps she’ll stick around a while and let us have another chance at a better look.

Whew! After all that action, let’s bring it down a notch with this serene looking mushroom growing peacefully right out of a box elder knot.

Stay tuned to find out tomorrow what pictures I kept in my pocket to show you while I go to school.

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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