That’ll wake you up!

It’s getting light enough early enough for me to squeeze in a quick trip to Estabrook before I go to school, so that’s what I did this morning. The thermometer said 20°F, but the breeze was supposed to make it feel like 7°F, and the cloud cover was pretty thick, so it sure felt like winter.

As I’ve already mentioned, now that the river is clear of ice around the islands at the north end, the lower river is pretty quiet. Instead, I expected most of the action to be at the north end, and I didn’t have time to dawdle, so I stayed on the path as it skirts around the low grassy area down the bluff from the southern playground, where I had seen coyotes a few times back in January.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, this was the morning that one decided to reappear! Ha!

I spotted it out on the ice, and it appeared to be trying to cross to the other side, but a lot of the ice now is merely frozen foam that floats down from the falls and piles up into a thick mat. It turns out, however, that such a mat of frozen foam won’t even hold up a coyote, because this one fell right through. I was shooting through about 100 yards of trees and branches, so I couldn’t line up a gap until it had just fished itself back out, but you can still see the water draining out of its fur. Brrrrr! What a way to start the morning, right?

Here it is again, back safely on shore and already starting to look pretty puffy. Phew! I hope it dries out soon, and I wonder if and when it will try to cross again. It clearly knew I was there, so I gave it the friendliest wave I knew how. I stopped short of a thumbs-up, though.

Anyway, once the coyote was out of sight, I went down the bluff and onto the grassy lowland to check out some little birds I had spotted while watching the coyote. There were several song sparrows busily foraging away.

And at least one American tree sparrow mixed into the bunch.

After watching the coyote come south along the river, I didn’t expect to find anything bigger than a sparrow for a while, so I forged north and immediately startled the great blue heron standing on the shore. Dang! Sorry about that!

Luckily for us, it was really hungry, the fishing was really good, or there was just the right combination of the two, because it only moved a couple hundred yards upstream. This time, I knew to be stealthy, and it let me capture this image in return. That fresh mating season plumage sure is pretty, isn’t it?

Anyway, I did eventually make it to the north end where I counted at least 4 dozen geese, maybe 3 dozen mallards, 8 goldeneyes, 7 common mergansers, 6 hooded mergansers, 5 buffleheads, 2 greater scaup drakes, a couple of herring gulls, and one red-bellied merganser drake. I didn’t see any shots that were better than yesterday’s, and by then my time was up, so I hustled home, hopped on my bike, and rode to campus.

The forecast for tomorrow morning is a little warmer and a little sunnier, so I can’t wait to find out who we see next.

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.

One thought on “That’ll wake you up!

  1. I’m imagining Mr. Coyote fur is still in winter mode and pretty waterproof around his body, right? I hope so. But still cold toes!!

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