The warmup came as forecast, and the critters in Estabrook came out to enjoy the reprieve.
Our belted kingfisher, who I’ve heard all along but couldn’t spot recently, was fishing over some newly open water across from the boardwalk below the beer garden.
Just north of the southern-most stairway, down the bluff from the playground by the middle parking lot, there is a flat patch of ground about the length and width of a football field and only a couple of feet above the river. Last year it was often flooded, and I referred to it as the “mud flats”. This year, the river was lower, on average, this spot flooded much less often, and the grass grew well and tall. At the southeast corner of this patch, water seeps out of the side of the bluff, and this “running” water attracted little birds like a magnet this morning.
The first one I saw was our little winter wren, farther north than I’ve ever seen it.
Then a black-capped chickadee.
Here’s a dark-eyed junco foraging on ice formed at the base of the seep.
And here’s a dark-eyed junco, perhaps the same one, all wet from just taking a bath in a tiny pool of liquid water! Can you even imagine how much it must have felt like it needed a bath to splash around when the water and the air are both about 33°F?
Plus, it wasn’t the only one! There was nearly a line, and here are a couple of goldfinches who hopped in next.
I thought for sure I’d see mammals today, and here’s a gray squirrel finally willing to prove me right.
Finally, at the far south end, just before I headed east, I spotted this fun ice formation over the river.
I thought that was going to be my last picture, but I still had a few minutes, so I checked out the ravine that runs under a little pedestrian bridge at the crest of the bluff, and look who I found. A little red squirrel who has never seen a creature as mysterious as me, I guess, and who appeared to be nearly beside itself with curiosity.