Winter tightens its grip…

It was colder than forecast, just 5°F, but the air was still, and the sun did come out for a bit, so nice enough. The critters in Estabrook, however, were a lot quieter than I would have expected. They were certainly quieter than yesterday. Perhaps there’s a tipping point between the 10°F of yesterday morning and the 5°F of today.

We did get another dusting of snow last evening, and the ground was covered with tracks this morning: canids, raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, mice, and even beaver. The most surprising, however, were of a couple of people hugging the riverbank where I usually find none. I followed for a while and finally caught up to them at the north edge of the open water. They turned out to be long-time readers Bridget and Jimmy, and it was great to finally meet them in person. Jimmy posted some amazing pictures on instagram of a bald eagle right in Shorewood back in December.

Anyway, I was also glad to see the hooded merganser hen back on the water with the buffleheads, mallards, and goldeneyes.

I wonder where the mergansers had gone yesterday and thought how great it is that wherever they went, the hoody decided it would rather come back to Estabrook.

Bridget, Jimmy, and I hiked north to the falls, which they hadn’t seen in the winter before, and then we parted ways. They headed to the pond, and I continued north.

As I approached the northern island, I simply could not believe my luck to catch the coyote trotting out across the ice again. It looks like the same one as yesterday, if slightly more disheveled, and it was in a little bit more of a hurry today with no time to pose for my camera. I threw my gloves on the ground as quickly as I could and held my breath as I tried to squeeze off a couple of shots before it disappeared into the woods on the west bank.

There were no raptors at the north end today, nor hardly any little birds, so I turned back south and veered towards the pond.

The house finches were there, as usual, and I gave them all a second look in hopes of finding a redpoll among them, but no luck. They were all house finches with a couple of house sparrows in the mix.

Plus, a cardinal or two.

Finally, I swung back by the open water on the river to see if anyone new had arrived, but only found this poor mallard hen resting back up on shore again, without her drake this time, and looking like she is so ready to be done with winter.

I didn’t have the heart to disturb her, so I backed up the trail, took the other way around, and hiked on 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.

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