March goes out…

I’m sure it went out like a lion for some of you, especially if you had to commute through the snow this morning. I, however, enjoyed riding my bike to campus through the snow, mostly on the bike path, and then Estabrook Park this afternoon was simply amazing, so March went out more like a big wet pussy cat for me.

Let me start you off with an extremely rare landscape shot of snow on the trees beside the river, to set the mood.

And here’s a pair of sleepy mallards at the edge of the water.

But then things started to wake up. I was thrilled to see a quartet of buffleheads back again and even more surprised to see at least a quartet of hooded mergansers, of which here is one pair.

While I was surveying the water fowl on the river, look who came soaring south in lazy circles overhead: our first turkey vulture of the season. The colors are pretty washed out from the low light and bright white sky, but you can still make out its red face. Good thing my buddy, Mike, had tipped me off to recognize a vulture by the dihedral of its wings, compared to hawks and eagles.

Meanwhile, at my feet, the golden-crowned kinglets were thick as fleas, nearly as jumpy, and hardly much bigger.

On my way back south, I climbed the bluff early to head for the pond, and boy, that was a lucky choice. I was greeted by dozens of birds on the grass: robins, red-winged blackbirds, grackles, and a couple dozen starlings, of which here is an even dozen.

Anne commented that the starling in the picture I showed you yesterday “is a cool looking bird”, so I wanted to show her how that’s only the third of it. Have you seen their murmurations? If not, do yourself a favor and watch this video of that astounding behavior. Equally as amazing is their vocalization ability. Here’s one fun video, and here’s another.

Anyway, as I was trying to get a count of the robins, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I spotted one killdeer, then two, and eventually six, just hiding in plain sight among them.

Then, as I was trying to line up a nice killdeer shot, I spotted another northern flicker fly by out of the corner of my eye: a female again.

And then, as I was trying to capture the flicker, a kestrel flew over. It’s a male again, and I almost had to sit down!

That’s seven amazing and colorful species while almost standing in one place. Incredible!

After all that excitement, I had to go home to take a nap, but on my way, this little cutie, a red squirrel, called out to me so I could take its picture too.

When it rains, it pours, eh? I can hardly wait to see what April brings!

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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