The air felt surprisingly cold for 36°F, and the trail mud was surprisingly firm for 36°F, so they sort-of cancelled each other out, and it was not a bad morning to visit Estabrook Park.
There were a few mallards and goldeneyes on the lower river, but way fewer than just a week ago, and nothing especially photogenic, so I continued on to the upper river. Our buffleheads have been hanging out on the west side of the southern island recently, so not very easy to see, and I was happy to catch them just off the tip and in some pretty morning light today.
Above the southern island, the water and ice were full of Canada geese and mallards again, but I also counted 10 goldeneyes and 7 common mergansers, and here’s a shot of one pair of mergansers with a goldeneye hen between them.
As I continued north to see if anyone else was on the open water south of the bridges, the gulls, geese, ducks, and even crows all started shouting at once, and it didn’t take long for this beauty to glide into sight.
I thought maybe this eagle had a fish again, but when I got home and could zoom in, I now see that it’s hauling a short stick instead. I wonder what the heck that’s about. It sure would be amazing if it were trying to build a nest here, but that stick looks way too small for that, right?
Anyway, it perched in a tree over the far shore and looked around for a bit before moving on.
The dramatic change at the pond persists, and I could hear a red-winged blackbird, but I could barely find a single pair of house sparrows and no house finches. There were now two pair of geese, and they were grazing on the lawn beside the middle parking lot while they waited for the ice to melt.
Finally, when I got to the path leading up the bluff at the south end that I usually take, I thought I’d take just a glimpse down river, now that the water is open, just to see if anyone was there, and look who was.
Our first red-breasted merganser since last spring. This is the drake, and there was a hen with him, but they were pretty shy, and this is the best picture I managed to capture so far.
I see we’re forecast to reach the mid-50s overnight and wake up to howling winds, so who knows what I’ll be able to find tomorrow. Tune in again to find out.