I was disappointed that we didn’t have any of the forecast gaps in the cloud cover this morning, but I was preparing to head out anyway, and then the rain started. Ugh. So, I held off, went to school, and finally got into Estabrook in the late morning after I got home. The cloud cover was still thick, but at least it wasn’t leaking anymore.

The excitement began when I reached the pond and was greeted by this amazing spectacle: six spanking-new goslings bobbing around on the water with their mom.

Before I could get anymore gosling pictures, however, I had to go check out the ruckus some crows were making in the trees on the east side of the pond. Here’s one of the crows.

And look who’s up there with it! Holy Smokes! A great horned owl!

I couldn’t tell if that’s the same great horned owl we see at the river, but I didn’t want to add to the stress the crows were causing, so I went back to the pond to see if I could get more gosling pictures, and I sat on the bench just in time to catch this pair of blue-winged teals sailing by.

I didn’t have to wait long, however, until Mom, Dad, and six little goslings popped right up onto the lawn with me, and it appears that everyone was ready for a nap.

They weren’t the only sleepy-heads, either. Here are a couple of raccoons.

And here’s a squirrel or two.

I eventually headed back down to the river, and I could not believe my luck today to find our usual great horned owl out in the open for a change.

And, yes, I did consider the possibility that they could be the same owl, just in two locations, but on my way back south, the river owl was in that same spot, and when I visited the pond again, the first owl was still in the same tree! I think the chances that if flew down to the river to greet me, waited for me to come by a second time, and then flew back to the pond before I got back there myself are vanishingly small, don’t you?

Anyway, the swallows we saw yesterday were up from their nap by the time I got to the north end, and they were busy hunting bugs out over the water. It was way too dark for my camera to get good action shots today, but I couldn’t help but try, and here’s the barn swallow, with its “rusty” face, “tawny” underparts, and fancy, white-striped tail, plucking something off the surface of the water.

Here’s the tree swallow, with its bright white chin and underparts but no tail stripe, doing the same.

As I crouched down at the water’s edge so the swallows wouldn’t stick to the far shore, look at the pretty spotted sandpiper who landed right in front of me, gave me a quick look, and proceeded to go about its business anyway. It wasn’t too long before a second sandpiper showed up, made some kind of display with its wings, and they both took off for the far shore. Maybe that’s how sandpipers say “wanna go someplace quieter?”

Finally, unlike the false alarm from a couple of weeks ago, I believe this is really a Swainson’s thrush with its distinctive “buffy eyering”, instead of the “whitish eyering” of hermit thrushes. It could be on its way to British Columbia, for all we know, after tanking up at the Estabrook buffet.

Lastly, thanks for all the well wishes for my upcoming adventure! I’ll definitely keep you updated once I get there.

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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