It was still snowing when we had breakfast, so I waited a bit for it to peter out before venturing into Estabrook, and it was worth the wait. I didn’t see anyone at the south end, at first, and I was already composing the story in my head, when I found that my alarm was premature.
The first creature I saw was our hooded merganser hen, who was busy fishing away in the little ribbon of open water that remains.
Soon after that, a male red-bellied woodpecker checked to make sure I kept it moving up the trail.
Then a male northern cardinal parked itself right over the trail and gave me the same look. Okay, okay! I’m going.
Back on the water, the crowd of goldeneyes is growing, and I counted 4 drakes and 5 hens this morning. Here’s the largest group I could squeeze into one shot.
Near the north end of the open water, I finally found a big group of mallards and one common merganser hen all resting on the ice together.
Finally, just before the river ices over until the falls, our gadwall drake is starting to show his shiny white speculum feathers. I first caught a glimpse of them yesterday, but he hid them again before I could get a picture. I would love to know if they have been there all along, and he just hides them, or if those are new feathers that have just come in for breeding season.
I was thrilled to spot our kestrel again just a bit further north and across the river from where we’ve seen her with a couple of small rodents.
As I walked past, keeping to our side of the river, she opted for a different perch, and I’ve been taking pictures of those huge, flying-saucer-looking things, which are part of the guywire system for a tower across the river, but never found one worthy of showing, until now.
At the falls, I found about a half dozen mallards and one poor goose who appears to be out of the flying business.
At the north end, I was rewarded for making the trek, even though there’s hardly any more open water, by our kestrel again, who let me get a much better picture this time.
On my way back south, I glimpsed and eagle soaring very high, but it drifted south before I could get a picture, and here’s one critter who was probably relieved to see it go.
Finally, back beside the open water, this female hairy woodpecker made sure everyone, including me, knew she was there.
Lastly, I heard and caught a glimpsed of a kingfisher at the south end again, but it was on a mission today that did not include photographs. Maybe next time.