Several happy returns…

It was a spectacular morning in Estabrook with clear blue skies, light winds, 11 degrees of Fahrenheit, and the snow from yesterday still looking fresh on the ground.

I was excited to see a common merganser drake back on the lower river, but he was less thrilled to see me, and he didn’t let me get a picture today. We haven’t seen the likes of him since January 26, exactly one month ago, and the last time we saw a hen was February 1. Welcome back, Buddy!

There were also a few mallards and goldeneyes, but our bufflehead pair and hooded merganser hen were taking the morning off.

The big surprise came at the north end, where I spotted just one bird on the open water. At first I thought it was the common merganser drake from earlier, but then I thought it was a goldeneye hen, and finally I realized that it was a greater scaup drake. Ha! They’re even rarer in Estabrook than the common merganser, and we haven’t seen one since last March.

Also at the north end, most of the branches are cleared of snow and ice now so the mourning doves are having an easier time finding perches. Phew!

By the pond, I finally managed to spot one of the woodpeckers that has been drumming lately. If you’ve been to Estabrook in the last couple of weeks, or probably any suitable woods, you know what I mean. Well, here’s one of the culprits, a male red-bellied calling and then drumming on a chunk of oak tree bark.

I read that “both male and female woodpeckers drum, most often in late winter or early spring when they are more actively seeking mates and establishing territories. Drumming is common in the morning, but woodpeckers may drum at any time of day.” Further, it appears that all four woodpecker species we’ve seen so far in Estabrook drum: downy, hairy, red-bellied, and northern flicker.

Anyway, the cardinals were thick at the pond, so here’s another one while we still have pretty snow for a background.

And here’s a black-capped chickadee just because.

Finally, on my way back to the river, I spotted the first mammal I’ve seen since the snow came: a little red squirrel getting a whiff of the snow, or more likely, what might be hiding beneath it.

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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