A calm before the storm.

It was a gray morning in Estabrook, but the big storm hasn’t yet arrived, so temps where mild, the breeze was light, and the snow was on pause. I didn’t see anything notable on my walk along the river until I reached the north end, where two red-tailed hawks were perched in a tree over the northern island. This is the one that let me take a picture before they became annoyed with me and moved on.


On my way back south, I was thrilled to spot our old friend, the great horned owl catching some zzzzs on the southern island.


While trying to focus on the owl buried in the sticks, I spotted a raptor soaring over the river between the islands and figured it was one of the red-tailed hawks I had just seen, but I gave it a look with my binoculars, just in case it was an eagle instead.

Well, it wasn’t an eagle, and it had a long tail and a bright white patch on its lower back, which makes it a Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius), my very first. Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to take a picture before it was out of sight, but I’ll keep my eyes peeled in the coming days.

I had barely walked 10 yards, hadn’t even looked up the northern harrier yet, and was still on cloud nine from seeing the owl when look who else was out and about. Sure enough, one of our beaver was busily packing on one more pound before the river freezes for the winter and it’s stuck in its den for weeks.


I was starting to run out of time, but on my way home, I swung by the pond to find this cute little dark-eyed junco hoping I keep right on moving so it can go back to foraging amongst the fallen leaves.


Finally, deep in the bushes, I spotted this male northern cardinal trying to get some shuteye. It took me a moment even to recognize what was going on because I’ve never seen a cardinal with its beak tucked into the feathers on its back before, as we just saw the mallards doing yesterday.


As I sit at our dining room table now typing this up, the snow is starting to fall again, so perhaps we will get some. If you’re in the path of this storm, I hope you can stay safe and enjoy the spectacle of it with me.

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.

3 thoughts on “A calm before the storm.

  1. Wonderful to once again read your Estabrook update! I have yet to see a Harrier along the river but will absolutely keep my eyes out for one now! Very cool. Happy to see our owl friend back too! 🙂

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