Quite a morning!

I took my sweet time getting to the park this morning, but the critters didn’t seem to mind and were still quite plentiful when I finally rolled in, and as soon as I got to the river at the south end, I caught a glimpse of this young-looking Cooper’s hawk as it appeared to make a try for a mourning dove.

I saw a few ducks on my way north; some mallards, a few goldeneyes, a couple of merganser hens, and a pair of buffleheads; but it was still pretty dark, and I figured I’d get to see them later, so I kept moving. At the grassy area, I found this pair of red-bellied woodpeckers going about their morning but not necessarily together.

There was no sign of our kestrel, and I was way too late for the coyotes, but I did see the largest assembly of mourning doves I’ve ever seen, over 30 birds all together. Perhaps they were discussing the recent problem with Cooper’s hawks.

At the falls, there were just a couple of mallards and this one herring gull.

Above the falls, I finally succumbed to the temptation and hiked across the ice to the southern island, which was abuzz with little birds. Here’s a downy woodpecker.

And here’s an American tree sparrow again.

From the island, I hiked back across the ice and continued north along the eastern shore. Suddenly I heard a whooshing noise, and I don’t know about you, but sudden sounds really make me jump when I’m walking on river ice. Happily, the sound was not the whooshing of water up onto the ice, but instead the whooshing of two birds heading north, one chasing the other, right over my left shoulder. I figured the second one to be a raptor of some kind, so I followed after in hopes of spotting it where it finally perched. I made it almost to the Port Washington Road bridge and was on my way back before I spotted it in a tree atop the bluff.

Holy Moly! That’s a peregrine falcon! We’ve only seen one in the park before and it was on the big tower at the very south end back in July. What a pleasant surprise, at least for us. The doves and pigeons are probably less than thrilled.

On my way back south, this chickadee was checking out the blossoms ready to bloom on a maple tree.

Back beside the southern island, I ran into Lisa, who found the owls for us, and we continued south. In short order we found this red squirrel just chillin’.

South of the falls, I spotted a rabbit at last who didn’t immediately flee out of sight.

Finally, we were trying to spot the winter wren near the seep at the base of stairway 9 that Brian reported seeing yesterday, when Lisa spotted a hawk perched quite a ways back up river. We couldn’t quite make out what kind it was, so we headed back north, of course, for a closer look.

It turned out to be a young-looking Cooper’s hawk again, with the characteristic tail but a brown back, perhaps the same one I saw earlier at the south end, and it seemed to be fascinated by all the mourning doves hanging around over the grassy field.

It hopped around a few times, even landing for a moment on the Friends of Estabrook Park bench along the trail.

But it eventually gave a couple more looks around and then headed east with empty talons.

What a pretty bird and great spotting again, Lisa! By then, however, it was almost lunchtime, so we called it a day, and I hustled home.

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.

2 thoughts on “Quite a morning!

    1. Thanks for the heads-up, Brian, and I completely see what you are saying about the beak, but the yellow instead of dark eyes and the pink instead of yellow legs leads me to believe it really is just a plane-ol’ herring gull.


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