Big changes afoot at the pond

The goslings were all gone this morning. There weren’t even any mature canada geese at the pond when I arrived, until 3 flew in from the west. I counted 10 strapping young goslings there yesterday morning, and here’s hoping that they all just outgrew it and hiked themselves down to the river. Bon voyage, mes amis!

Meanwhile, the red-winged blackbirds at the pond appear to be fixin’ to provide some youngins of their own. Here’s a shot through the sticks and leaves of a female building her nest out over the water. She’s pretty well camouflaged, so you have to look closely to see her. I never would have if she wasn’t also quite busy whistling while she worked.

I know we’ve all seen chipmunks before, but who can say “no” to this photo? Right?

Comme d’habitude:

More new arrivals in and out of the park

Welp, the can of worms is out of the bag now! Here’s another amazing image sent in this time by keen reader Betty Koepsel from out in Oconomowoc.

The accompanying story goes like this:”Sweet teeny newborn found in the grass about 10 feet from our vegetable garden… almost run over with a lawnmower…mom is near, but never seen…fawn gone in a couple hours.”I bet that little stinker will be back eating Betty’s vegetables in no time.
Meanwhile, back in Estabrook, the Indigo Buntings of Good Cheer, sometimes mistaken for the actual Bluebirds of Happiness, have arrived with the nice weather, and I expect this one will be playing a young Yondu in the upcoming GotG prequel.

As usual:

Reader photo of the day

I know, I know, this is supposed to be all about the flora and fauna of Estabrook Park, but we made an exception for the great horned owl and owlets, with good reason I believe, and we’re going to make a similar exception this morning for this amazing shot sent in by an avid reader.

That, my friends, is a coyote struttin’ across the parkway in front of the house of Professor Erica Young in Shorewood, WI. Well done, Professor!

Meanwhile, all I’ve got to show for getting up early on this beautiful morning is this picture of a female baltimore oriole, clearly enjoying the smooth jazz stylings of several suitors jockeying for position around the pond.

Lastly, the gosling report. The family with triplets is back on the pond, I am relieved to find, and the family with the octet is definitely down to a septet, I am very sad to say.

Some other pictures are available at

Drama at the pond

The drizzle took a break for a bit yesterday, and I stepped out to stretch my legs.

There were plenty of critters about, but nobody wanted to sit still for me until I made it to the pond, where Ol’ Blue was intent upon rustling up some lunch.

Suddenly, a second Great Blue Heron drifted in, and I thought “well this will be a great photo op,” but for reasons known only to him, he decided to land right next to the first one, and they had a quick and agitated conversation, perhaps about scaring fish away or the optimal heron density on a pond of this size, before one flew right off again. 

Actually, I don’t really know which one, or even if either one, might be the same one I donned Ol’ Blue while photographing few days ago, and I also don’t know, of course, what they actually discussed. Perhaps it’s a long standing feud between them about some sweet mate or nesting site they both wanted.

In other news, there were only 7 (seven) goslings on the pond. I walked around twice, so I’m pretty sure about that. Let us hope that the family with the triplets merely decided that they had outgrown the pond, headed back down to the river, and one of the octet tagged along. That’s how nature works, right?

Lastly, there’s a surprise for readers of today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel print edition that I cannot find online anywhere.

Rerun Monday in Estabrook!

Water is still falling out of the sky, so I’m dipping into the archives, all the way back to April 11, for a never-before-seen image.

The colors are pretty drab, but there goes a pair of wood ducks, a male hooded merganser, and a pair of blue-winged teals in some kind of multi-species smorgasbord on our little pond. Man, those were good times, eh? Anyway, the teals and mergansers have long since moved on, but the wood ducks are still around. 

There is not a single new image posted online at

I gotta admit though, the rain sure makes it a little easier for me to sit here all day grading final exams.

Maybe the sun will come out tomorrow.

Gettin’ a real soakin’ at the park

The skies are so dark, the streetlights are still on, and so there ain’t gonna be no new pictures today.

Instead, I’m sure all the critters at the pond will be thrilled to have the day off for a change.

Anyway, just to tide you over, here are a couple images from Estabrook that didn’t make the front page:

That’s sweet woodruff (aka Galium odorata or sweet-scented bedstraw),
here’s a catbird busy collecting nesting material by the pond,

and here’s a common yellowthroat also collecting nesting material, I can only presume, down by  the river.

He’s got big plans for that 2×4, I’m sure.

I’ll toss a couple more b-reel shots online at

Some new color in Estabrook

So you’re sick of the brown toads and mushrooms, eh? Well I told you not to eat them.

Anyway, here’s some color for a change. That’s a pretty little wild geranium just opened,

and here’s a female yellow-rumped warbler adjusting her feathers.

Meanwhile, I’ve spotted hummingbirds in the park and a little mammal swimming in the pond, but have not yet managed to capture images of them yet, so stay tuned.
Oh, and there is another family of canada geese on the west bank of the river with 9 (nine!) goslings. That’s the upper limit, at least according to the wikipedia article.

These and other fine digital representations are available at

More new arrivals in the Park

I know what you’ve all been thinking.
“Birds are fine, mammals are nice enough, reptiles will do, and we’ll even allow a fish or two, but where the heck are the amphibians, for Pete’s sake? How about a newt, a salamander, a frog, or even a pollywog for a change? Come on, man, you’re better than this!”
Well, wait no more and, as all the kids say these days, “say hello to my little friend!”

The irony is that I’ve been checking on the dog-gone toadshade every day to catch when those blossoms finally open, and this little guy was hiding in a nice big patch of bluebells. Actually, he or she is a good sized American toad and not so little, maybe a couple of inches long, or so.

Meanwhile, since you’re all sick of pretty flowers, too, here are some more mushrooms!

No, these aren’t morels, I haven’t seen any morels yet, and you know I wouldn’t say even if I had. Instead, these appear to be Dryad’s Saddle (aka Pheasant Back Mushroom, Hawks Wing, or Polyporus squamosus), and they are nearly fist-sized.

As usual, I’ve uploaded these images and some of my other attempts at photography to

Rained out in Estabrook

Oh, sure, I could definitely go out, and I will have to at some point, but I don’t want to get the camera wet, you know?

Anyway, I managed to capture a couple of images last evening before the light was gone that I have a hope will get us through the morning.

First up, and most exciting, is a v-formation of double-crested cormorants. Now you could argue that they were not technically in the park, just in its airspace, and I’m sure all the fish in the pond are relieved about that, but I was standing right beside the pond when it finally dawned on me to take this picture, so we’re going to allow it.

At that instant, they are heading back toward Lake Michigan, and when I see their low, purposeful flight over the water and read articles about their fishing prowess and human efforts to constrain them, I imagine that when they arrive, the lead bird might say something like “give us all your fish, and nobody gets hurt.”

Anyway, in a completely other direction, just after witnessing the spectacle above, I was headed home along that little path in the woods where I had finally spotted the grosbeaks earlier this week, when I noticed this pretty new arrival.

Dr. Google assures me that these are Virginia bluebells.

These images, and a couple more attempts to get a decent common yellowthroat picture, are all online at

PS: there’s a great story about canada geese nesting on a rooftop beside the river in Milwaukee in the Journal Sentinel this morning that you might enjoy. 

Slow morning in Estabrook

Sure, all the usual suspects were out and about, but I didn’t manage to see anybody new today. Maybe they’re all at Gary’s bird feeder along with the grosbeaks he’s been hoarding.
Luckily, I did happen upon this little guy down by the river yesterday afternoon. He’s a Black-and-white warbler, if you can believe it.

All 11 goslings were up and about this morning, and everyone seems to be doing fine.
Finally, a few more wildflowers are up, and I’ve posted their pictures on: