A couple of late-season surprises…

The winds were whippin’ out of the south this morning, and it seemed that just about everyone was sleeping in. I barely saw a soul, and certainly nothing to photograph, until I reached the north end.

There was no sign of the bufflehead or the mergansers this morning, and a blue heron was on the east shore up ahead, but someone else flushed it out, probably inadvertently, before I could get close enough. Instead, I did manage to get this image of a red-tailed hawk high above the far shore. Perhaps it’s the same one we saw just Monday.

A crow was foraging again on the now-exposed river bottom between the islands. Maybe it was craving some more of that naturally-aged salmon.

I headed back south and stayed along the river to avoid as much of the wind as I could. I did see two belted kingfishers by the falls at the same time for a change: one above and one below. I’ve suspected there was more than one, but this was the first time I could see both while standing in one spot. Neither one wanted a portrait today, however, so I kept moving.

This next sight took me by surprise because of the freezing temperatures we’ve had lately, but I guess they’re hardy and/or growing in a well-sheltered spot. They sure looked healthy.

As far as I can tell, these are grey oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) and quite edible, but I’m saving my appetite for tomorrow.

Just a bit beyond the mushrooms, I finally met a little cutie who was in the mood.

By the looks of that round shape, short tail held straight up, and the slight stripe over the eye, I’d say we’ve finally got ourselves a winter wren (Troglodytes hiemalis). It’s about darn time, eh? Oddly enough, it appears that their breeding range is just a bit north of here, their winter range is just a bit south of here, and we’re smack dab in the middle of their short migration range. Well, we’ll take what we can get, right?

Finally, there was a trio of geese on the lower river, amongst the mallards, and here are two of them taking turns stretching. Perhaps stretches are contagious among birds similar to the way that yawns are contagious among people.

If you’re traveling this week, we hope you get there and back safely, and we’ll “see” you when you return.

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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