A Friday of Surprises.

It was quite a pleasant morning in Estabrook. Sure, it was only 10°F, but the air was still, and the sun came out for a while, so the sky was nice and blue.

The biggest surprise for me was finding not a single mallard on the river. That might be a first. Perhaps an eagle came through earlier and spooked them all off. The only water fowl I spotted were diving birds: the pair of buffleheads, three goldeneye hens, and one or two goldeneye drakes. Very curious.

The first bird willing to sit still for a second was this blue jay, oddly enough.

There was no sign of our kestrel, but at the north end of the grassy area, the sun was starting to shine down into the river valley, and these goldfinches were doing their best to take full advantage of it.

North of the falls, a couple of red squirrels were excited about something, maybe each other, but paused for a picture when they noticed me walking by. Gotta love that warm sunlight and bright blue sky, right?

At the far north end, I could hear some crows squawking again, and I had a hope of finding a raptor or two, but I couldn’t see anyone but the crows by the time I arrived. Then this beauty trotted out across the ice heading west from the northern island.

The lighting is a lot different, but it doesn’t look as dark as the first coyote we saw last week, nor as gray as the second one, so maybe it’s a third. How exciting!

After that thrill, everything appeared more vibrant, and it seemed that there were birds everywhere. Here’s a red-bellied woodpecker, …

Here’s a hairy woodpecker, …

And here’s an ever-acrobatic, black-capped chickadee.

I swung by the pond, just to see if anyone new was around, and found the usual contingent of shy house finches, house sparrows, dark-eyed juncos, and this one intrepid American tree sparrow.

Finally, from the pond, I dipped back down to the open water on the river to see if anyone had returned, and I was stunned to find a single pair of mallards so far up onto shore that they were parked right on the lowest segment of the river trail. I snapped this picture of the drake, while the hen hid behind some tall grass just to his left, and then I turned around to let them hide out in peace from whomever they were hiding out from.

“Good luck, kids, and we hope to see you again next time.”

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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