The thermometer said 21° this morning, and the manual for my camera assured me it was good for 14°, so we were good to go with 7° to spare! That’s a good thing, too, because the sky was crystal clear, and it would have been a crying shame to miss the park today.
The first pretty sight I saw came a bit before the abandoned bridge abutment, near where we saw the muskrat yesterday, and where this blue heron was warming itself in the bright morning sun on a log over the water. Those darn vines hanging down between us were giving my autofocus fits, so I’m thrilled that it somehow focused on the heron one time. Phew!
Meanwhile, as I was trying to trick my autofocus into doing my bidding, look who came cruising down the river. Yup, that’s a beaver heading home once again after a night of gnawing on trees upstream.
After all that excitement, things were calm for a bit until I got above the falls and tried to check on another spot where I’ve seen beaver before. Look who caught my eye in a tree across the river as I approached the water: a red-tailed hawk appearing to try the same trick as the heron.
The beaver hangout was all iced over, so nothing to see there, but there was some new action out on the water.
Mrs. Bufflehead has come down river a bit and has been joined by a pair of hooded merganser hens. Sweet! Here’s a nicer picture of Mrs. Bufflehead as she caught her breath between dives to forage for tasty morsels on the river bottom.
Speaking of tasty morsels, the herring gulls were back to fishing on the river, and here’s one just about the splashdown at the far north end.
There was no sign of the young eagle this morning but be patient. I bet we’ll get to see it again, and hopefully its elders, too, as the river ices over in the coming weeks, and everyone starts frequenting the few patches of open water left.
On my way back home, I spotted this fascinating phenomenon trapped in an eddy just below the falls. It appears to be foam churned up by the falls now frozen into plate-sized pancakes that lazily circle each other on the surface. I do not recall seeing that before, but I read that this is not the first occurrence, and it is perhaps distinct from the so-called “pancake ice” that forms on oceans and lakes. Fun, eh? What will they think up next?
Further south, the little birds were finally up, and here’s a chickadee with breakfast already.
Finally, here’s a goldfinch who just needs five more minutes in the sun, please, before it’ll be ready to forage.