The old gang’s just about all here…

Sure, it was cold this morning, but there was much less cloud cover and wind than forecast, so my visit to Estabrook was far more pleasant than I anticipated. The birds seemed to enjoy it, too, because they were out in droves.

I had just walked past the common mergansers at the south end, whom we first saw yesterday, when I spotted another familiar face for the first time this winter, a common goldeneye hen, and she was in about the same place on the river as the one who hung out there for weeks last year. Perhaps she’s the same bird, and she found that spot works well for her.

As I was trying to get a better picture of her, and maybe also one of the common merganser drake she was hanging out with and you can see right behind her, there was suddenly a commotion up above.

A few crows were expressing their displeasure with the perches of one mature and one young bald eagle, both of whom soon headed back north. Happily, the mature one circled a couple of times before gliding out of sight.

Below the falls, I didn’t see the beaver today, but I did see the gadwall drake, and I’ll show you a better picture below, which I got on my way back south when the sun was a little higher in the sky. Above the falls, there were a couple of geese and a bunch of mallards, but no buffleheads today.

At the north end, the sun was finally warming things up, and a lot of little birds were either sunning themselves or already busy rustling up their breakfasts.

Here’s a black-capped chickadee pausing from its foraging for just a moment in the soft morning glow.

Here’s a mourning dove still soaking up the sun.

Here’s a male hairy woodpecker who thinks he’s found something…

And here’s the female, red-bellied woodpecker who swooped in to chase him off and grab the grub before I could even take a second shot. I have not seen that sort of pecking order between woodpeckers before.

Here’s another shot of the female after she opened her eyes to get a look at what she had just confiscated.

Finally, here’s a female downy woodpecker who steered clear of that whole power struggle.

On my way back south, I did get a better picture of the gadwall drake, as promised, and it looks as though his front defroster still doesn’t work as well as the ones all the mallards appear to have. Who among us hasn’t struggled through at least one winter with a bad front defroster, eh?

Lastly, just about at the south end again, I happened to capture this fascinating little scene of a diminutive female hooded merganser who surfaced right between a common merganser drake and hen. There appears to be honor, camaraderie, or at least tolerance among diving birds.

Just about all the winter birds have now arrived. The only hold out I can think of is the red-breasted merganser, but now that winter really seems to be here, I bet we’ll get to see one soon enough.

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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