It was cold, just below freezing at dawn, and not as sunny as forecast, but the critters in Estabrook did not disappoint this morning!
By the time I was heading inland toward the pond, the sky had brightened enough for pictures, and as I was searching for a bird, I heard a rustling above and behind me. It took me a moment to find the source, but when I did, I was treated to this amazing scene.
I did not realize what I was seeing right away, and by the time I did, they had already gone their separate ways. Here’s the Mrs.
Meanwhile, at the pond, I caught a glimpse of our first gosling of the season. Woo Hoo! By the time I grabbed my camera, Mom had already tucked it under her wing, and all that was left to see was this empty eggshell. I bet we’ll see them out on the water tomorrow morning.
Also at the pond, but not on film, sadly, were the first pair of Caspian terns I’ve seen! I got a good look at their distinctive black face with my binoculars, but by the time I grabbed my camera, they had moved on already. Darn. I’ve gotta just mount that thing to my face.
By the pond and elsewhere throughout the park, the blue-gray gnatcatchers were plentiful, and here a male, with his Groucho Marx eyebrows.
And here’s a female without. They both preferred not to look my way.
At the north end, I encountered another special treat, and this time I have the pics! I glimpsed some swallows hunting over the river, and figured they were the tree swallows that we’ve seen before. As I walked up the path however, I happened to glance out over the water and could not believe my eyes.
Best of all, there were three (3!) different species of swallows in that little flock. Here’s the one tree swallow with its bright white throat. The images are all a little fuzzy because I had to shoot through the dense thicket you can see above. I’m amazed they came out as clear as they did.
Here’s the one barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) with its “rusty” “throat and forehead”, which I’ve never seen in Estabrook before, probably because we don’t have any barns.
And here’s one of the northern rough-winged swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis) with its brown back and chest that “fades to white,” and that I didn’t even know existed until this morning! Ha!
Finally, as if that wasn’t enough excitement for one morning, on my way home, a pair of robins and a pair of chickadees all shouting at once caught my attention. I tried to see what they were all shouting about, and look who I found trying to sleep through it all.
A gray morph eastern screech-owl in a hole so small I would have never thought to look in. I wonder if it knows the red morph we saw for a few days last week.
Lastly, at the far north end, the Dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) are blossoming!
Speaking of Dutchman’s breeches, I’ll be wearing them soon, at least if I buy any pants while I’m there, because I’ve accepted a one-year post-doc at the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands to “develop and execute an engineering research project for the ‘Bicycle of the Future’.” I ship out at the end of May, once the UWM semester wraps up, which means I won’t get to visit Estabrook Park every day, but beyond that, I don’t know. I’ll bring my camera, of course, and perhaps I’ll be able to show you some pictures of Dutch wildlife. I hear they have some.