The air temperature was below freezing in Estabrook this morning, and November is starting to act like it’s gonna stick around for a while. There was plenty of frost on the ground, the puddles were frozen over, the pond had ice around the edge, and there was even some ice along the riverbanks where the water flows slowly. Here’s a maple leaf frozen into some of that river ice.
Here’s a blue heron on the east side of the river warming its bones in the bright morning sun.
A pair of river deer were back checking out the shallow water between the northern island and the eastern shore. Apparently their toes don’t mind freezing water.
Mallards are ubiquitous and the drakes are all in full plumage now. Here’s a drake keeping an eye on me while his hen, or the hen that allows him to swim around with her for now, continues foraging. Gotta love that iridescent green, eh?
The dark-eyed juncos have also made themselves at home, and I keep coming across large groups of them foraging together. Here’s one taking a break to look at the camera.
At the north end, in the tall trees between the meadow and the river, I spotted two big, light-colored shapes. One turned out to be the sun-bleached wood of a barkless stump of a branch, and the other turned out to be the white belly feathers of this red-tailed hawk, perhaps also warming itself in the sun. Notice a theme?
On the river, a bunch of rusty blackbirds were back, and here’s one striding through the shallow water like it’s a deer. We’re right at the northern edge of their winter range, so it’s possible the ones we saw back in October have stuck around, and I just haven’t seen them for a while, or this is a new batch that just arrived from the north side of Lake Superior. They wouldn’t tell me which, however.
Finally, the killdeer are still here, mixing it up on the river with the rusty blackbirds, and here’s one standing on some of that river ice. It appears they only have to fly to the southern half of Illinois to reach their winter range, so maybe they’re just waiting for prices to come down.
I find it comforting to see that somethings still work the way they’re supposed to. The weather gets cold as the year comes to an end, the leaves fall off the trees, and the birds fly south: some from here, some through here, and some to here. I hope you do, too.