The overcast was heavy, but the trail mud was frozen nice and firm, and the forecast precipitation didn’t materialize, so it was a fine morning to visit Estabrook.
Besides several dozen mallards, I was happy to see a pair of common mergansers still on the lower river, and here’s the hen airing out her wings.
All along the river, there are cardinals, chickadees, robins, and even blue jays all singing their songs. As I approached the north end, I could also hear Canada geese sorting out who got there first, and who gets which nesting spot on which island. I got out my binoculars to try to count them all, and look who I spotted hiding amongst them!
Sure enough, that’s a couple of wood duck drakes in all their splendor, and here’s a little bit of a closer look at those handsome devils. I didn’t see them last spring until March 19.
Oh, spring can’t be far off now. There was also another couple of common mergansers and three goldeneye drakes on the water, but they were on the far west side so not worth the silver oxide.
Next, I stopped by the pond and was treated to a tune I haven’t heard in months: the familiar, and soon to be ubiquitous, call of a male red-winged blackbird. At first, I could hear him but couldn’t find him, and then he helped me out by perching in the most conspicuous spot at the pond: right atop the dead birch tree in the middle of the island. “Thanks, Buddy!” I didn’t see my first one of them until March 5 last spring.
Oddly, as if someone had flipped a switch, the crowds of house finches and house sparrows, who have been making a ruckus there all winter, seemed to have vanished, and I had to search to find just one or two specimens of each species. I wonder if that’s a coincidence.
Anyway, I headed back to the river and found the first pair of common mergansers up on the ice together.
Here’s a closer look at the “teeth” she’s got. I wonder if she’s baring them at him or at me. I sure am gonna miss these beauties when they eventually fly north for the summer.
Lastly, as I continued south, a came upon one of the incredibly rare, super elusive, and nearly mythical, two-headed herring gulls.
Talk about luck!