When I headed out to the park this morning, it was 10°F and the forecast was for mostly- to partly-cloudy, so I didn’t really have great expectations, but Holy Mackerel, what an amazing visit it turned out the be.
The far south end is pretty frozen up these days, so not a lot to see there, but as soon as I got far enough north for some open water, I spotted a pair of buffleheads, whom we haven’t seen in a couple of weeks. Plus, I’ve never seen them this far south on the river.
At the north edge of the open water, I spotted our kingfisher across the river waiting for the sun to come up.
Back on the east side, there was a trio of blue jays, uncharacteristically quiet, and foraging amongst the branches. Here’s the one that I caught out in the open for a second.
At the southern edge of the grassy field, where we’ve seen the kestrel several times before, I started looking for her, but didn’t see her today. Instead, look who I spotted marking his territory across the river again. Yup, our wily coyote was back.
Best of all, it appears that he’s getting used to me and granted me the following rare audience.
Then, as if that wasn’t already astounding enough, things got even better!
“Who’s that, Dear?” “Oh, just some dude I met, Darling. He seems harmless enough.” “Well, so long has he’s respectful and keeps his distance, I suppose it’s okay, but you make the weirdest friends.” “It’s my natural animal magnetism. I can’t help it.” “Sure. You just keep telling yourself that. Meanwhile, where’s my breakfast?”
“Okay, okay. I’ll get back to work. Now where did I see that rabbit?”
I simply cannot believe my luck.
Anyway, I eventually moved on and soon bumped into another nature lover, Brian, who was checking out Estabrook for himself. We hiked all the way to the north end and back and saw a lot of little birds along the way, but I didn’t manage a picture today. When we returned to the open water, Brian headed back north, where he proceeded to spot a winter wren and a young bald eagle. Good spotting, Brian!
I continued south, and the sun was finally up by then, which really brings out the color in this common merganser hen.
Here’s a goldeneye drake also looking sharp in the bright sunshine.
Finally, as I was walking back up the bluff at the south end, this red squirrel had something to say, but I couldn’t quite make it out.
Lastly, here’s a gray squirrel munching on maple tree seeds over the Oak Leaf Trail.
I wonder if red-tail hawks can taste the difference between squirrels that feed on acorns, walnuts, or maple tree seeds. “Ooh, Karl! You’ve gotta try this one. Tastes like Canada!”