Now that we’re solidly in the Dog Days of Summer, things are starting to slow down in the park, and it’s gonna be a short report today. The weather was pleasant enough, I got to the pond nice and early, a mallard is back to keep the black duck company, but I didn’t see the muskrat. There was a blue heron, but no green herons. The five wood duck ducklings were keeping to their routine, but the mallard ducklings have definitely moved on.
At the river, I did spot a beaver briefly, and a blue heron was fishing by the abandoned bridge abutment, but the big surprise is that the geese seem to have cleared out. Instead of the several dozen that were there as recently as yesterday, I only spotted 3 individuals today.
I didn’t take a picture until I found this mallard hen and her two ducklings just off the boat launch at the north end.
Next is of the five wood duck ducklings lounging in their usual spot on the log in the pond.
And finally, the blue heron was still at the pond for my second visit, it was on the west side by the tall reads for a change, and the sun was making a valiant effort, so that made for a prettier picture than usual
Then the sun lost its battle with the clouds, and I couldn’t find another willing portrait subject. Better luck next time, eh?
If you have been wondering when and if the mosquitoes would follow the rain we’ve had lately, well, wonder no more because they sure as heck are here now. Zoinks! I had no idea how haphazard my insect repellent application had become during the drought until this morning when the little stinkers let me know of every patch of skin I missed.
Luckily for us, the bigger critters are better prepared or just don’t care and were out in their usual numbers anyway. First up is one we haven’t seen in over a month, the muskrat in the pond, and this morning it appeared to be contentedly munching on something I can’t quite see out in the water.
Yup. That’s its big ol’ black tail sticking out of the water behind it.
I didn’t see much else and thought maybe the sun might peek out later so I headed to the river, but I really couldn’t dawdle today, as I could in the past, so I found myself at the north end pretty soon, and the most interesting sight was this trio of mergansers. They were pretty far out on the water, and the light was still pretty low, so it’s not the best image, but I suspect they are female hooded mergansers just like the solo hen we saw earlier this week.
There was a slight breeze to keep the skeeters down so I made myself comfortable on the bench and waited patiently to see if the heron would do anything interesting. After a bit, someone walked by and flushed out a green heron that I hadn’t spotted. Happily, I didn’t need to move so it ignored me and got right back to fishing. First it grabbed a frog.
Then it moved to a new spot and quickly followed up the frog with a nice little fish.
Meanwhile, the blue heron was having little success, and it appears that all the mallards checked out overnight, even the ducklings. All I could see was the solo black duck hen and the wood ducks. So it goes, eh?
The nice cool temps and calm winds remain, but there wasn’t much sun this morning. A single young deer was calmly grazing on the soccer fields, and I couldn’t even get it to look my way when I called to it, so this is what we’re left with.
At the pond, it was a blue heron this time trying to balance on a wiggly stick, and when it finally had to resort to flying to keep from getting soaked, it spooked a second heron that I hadn’t seen. One of them flew off, and I decided to leave the one who stayed to fish in peace.
At the falls, there were 4 mallard hens preening, and this one had the best spot.
Up river, I spotted another young northern flicker, and this one might not be fledged yet. There was a commotion when Mom or Dad stopped by, which is how I noticed them, but then the youngster was left on his own, and he just kept tucking in and then peeking out to see if his next serving of breakfast had arrived yet.
There were a couple of blue herons at the north end, along with plenty of geese, a few mallards, and even a sandpiper or two, but I let them all be and headed back to the pond.
As I approached, just about where I spotted the flickers yesterday, a chipmunk, of whom we haven’t seen much lately, really seemed to want to make up for lost time.
The forecast was for clear skies, for a change, and so I hit the park nice and early even though it was a bit chilly. I could see a blue heron and both sets of ducklings on the pond, but there just wasn’t enough light yet for my equipment, so I let them enjoy their breakfast in peace and headed to the river, were there was at least one beaver about and playing very coy with me.
There were also three more blue herons on the river, down from the four from the previous two mornings, so perhaps there is an ideal temperature for them: not 55°, not 68°, but 63°. Now that’s science, right there! Anyway, I think we’ve seen enough herons lately, so I let them be and headed back to the pond for some nice morning sun action.
Before I could get there, however, I came across this freshly-fledged northern flicker, looking sharp in his almost-adult feathers and acting way less shy than his folks have been lately.
Here he is getting a morning morsel from Dad, who was much more elusive.
And here he is waiting pretty patiently for the next one, which wasn’t long in coming.
Once I did arrive at the pond, the sun did not disappoint. The wood duck ducklings were lounging in the shade on the east side, but the trees and bushes behind them were alit and reflecting beautifully off the water.
And our newest arrivals, the mallard ducklings, were basking in the full golden glow across the water.
Since the sun was out and things were warming up, I stopped by the weeds beside the soccer fields to see who was around, and the place was hoppin’!
And here are a couple of shots of a monarch, of which there were several I am thrilled to report, gettin’ juiced up on a bull thistle blossom.
Finally, as I headed home, I spotted a long string of Canada geese heading south, perhaps on a training flight. I read conflicting reports on when exactly they molt their flight feathers and so cannot fly, so I can’t tell if this might be the last flight before being grounded or the first flight after being grounded, but it was a nice sight to see either way.
Sheesh! It was even cooler and maybe darker this morning than yesterday, if you can believe it, but let’s get right to the main event. There is a new batch of ducklings on the pond, and it’s five mallards this time. They probably just hatched overnight or this morning, and would you look at those little cuties! We saw how the cooler temps brought out the birds yesterday, but this is above and beyond. They just happened to catch my eye from the little bay east of the island as I was standing on the west lawn and wrapping up my second visit. Talk about luck.
During my first visit, I also found that our black duck hen has now accumulated three mallard hens to keep her company.
And a young blue heron was scarfing down fish again.
I didn’t see the wood ducks, but I didn’t want to disturb the heron, so I moved on and look who I saw at the river while I was looking for beaver.
It was also chowing down on a fish, and I can’t say for sure if it is our pal from a few weeks ago, but the size and location are about right.
There were more fishermen than usual in the vicinity of the falls, so nothing to see there this morning, and I continued to the north end. Along the way, there was another heron on the far shore, so not very photogenic, and a group of pretty waxwings feasting on flies close enough for me to capture these images.
Between the islands, I spotted our third blue heron of the morning, an adult this time and taking a break from fishing.
And beside the northern island, here’s heron number 4 hard at work…
On my second visit, besides the new mallard ducklings already mentioned above, the wood ducks made a beeline toward the west lawn as soon as I sat on the bench.
Best of all, they all hopped right up on the grass.
That, of course, emboldened the black duck and mallards to join them, at which point it became a circus of pecking orders, cue Yakity Sax, and they all ended up chasing each other back into the water in short order.
The sudden cold snap brought the birds out like crazy this morning, and I believe I saw more blue herons in the park today than I have ever seen before.
There was a youngish-looking one having some success on the pond.
Another youngish-looking one seeming to take a break on the river below the falls.
Yet another youngish-looking one fishing intently above the falls.
A fourth, in full adult regalia, grabbing a little morsel between the islands.
Yet a fifth one, appearing to be a youngster again, just off the northern island and not having much luck, but it did give a nice demo of how to navigate water that gets too deep.
I hadn’t seen the ducklings on my first pass of the pond, so I stopped in again on my way back south, and Mrs. Wood Duck’s special friend is back and sharing a tender moment. These two are starting to make me feel like paparazzi.
This morning really got off to a slow start, and I’d be tempted to think that the heat had something to do with it, but who knows. I didn’t see anything on my way to the pond, and there I only saw the same regulars that we saw just yesterday, so I headed to the river, where I almost made it to the north end before I even turned my camera on. At last, the mallard hen with three ducklings led them through a pretty reflection of the trees on the island lit by the sun.
Then a youngish-looking blue heron was fishing off the southern tip of the northern island, so things were starting to look up.
Well, since my luck had clearly turned around, I swung back by the pond, and look who was there.
Yup, one of the green herons that have really been giving me the slip lately. It was on quite the roly-poly little log and appeared to be having a heck of a time staying upright but not so much that it couldn’t snag a little fish anyway.
But still, it was roly.
Meanwhile, the American black duck hen and her best buddy the mallard hen were enjoying their morning preen together in the sun.
It was a slow morning in Estabrook, after all the noise last evening, and the mammals seemed to be taking the day off. The greatest concentration of firework detritus was by the pond, so I was quite surprised to find all the usual avian denizens going about their morning routine as though nothing had happened.
On the next birch tree over, there was a woodpecker that looks like a female downy, but with grey feathers instead of white. She even has the couple of little black squares in the white stripe down the side of her tail. Curious. I don’t think it’s some effect caused by my camera because the birch bark is nice and white.
Oh, and before I forget, on our way home from our first in-person get together at Anne’s folk’s place yesterday (thanks Joanne and Don) in who knows how long, Anne spotted these two amazing creatures working a soybean field in the warm afternoon sun.
It was forecast to get hot today, so I hit the park early, while it was still cool and dark, and I was happily surprised to run into this crew before I even reached the pond. Sure, the picture’s grainy, but it’s a miracle I managed to get an image at all. The streetlights were still on.
At the pond, a young blue heron was already fishing, and I’m pretty sure it’s got a crayfish here.
It’s nice to see the kids be successful once in a while, eh?
Meanwhile, the wood duck ducklings are becoming more independent. Here’s Mom with her friend and one duckling.
While the other four ducklings are running around on the lawn with the American black duck hen. I was lucky to even get 4 of those 5 in a single image.
Talk about “free-range” kids.
At the river, I could see the ripples made by beaver, but none came out to play today. Nor was there a heron fishing at the falls. There was, however, yet another rabbit enticing me to follow it up the trail. Okay. Let’s see what’s at the north end.
I’m pretty confident that we have here a Halloween pennant dragonfly (Celithemis eponina), which I am pretty sure I have never seen before. The orange background on the wings is a little subdued, but that could be due to the lighting, the strong green behind the wings, and/or the vaguery of my camera’s color processing.
At the soccer fields, the wren was still hopping in and out of its house.
And this little cutie with non-descript markings, which I don’t believe I’ve seen before, would hover low over the long grass for a moment and then dive down to catch something. Then it would pop back up, fly to a nearby low branch, and repeat.