Estabrook Park, calm before the storm

Busy, busy morning on the pond, despite the frost on the grass! Maybe everyone’s trying to fill up and find a good place to wait out the snow forecast for tomorrow.

First up, the new guests. I had heard reports that blue-winged teals had been spotted, but I haven’t had the pleasure myself until this morning.

Also, the male hooded merganser was back, in place of the male red-breasted merganser who’d been around regularly for weeks. Along with the canada geese pair, mallard bachelors (plus a new female with a lot to say), wood duck pairs, and still the little pied-billed grebe, there were over a dozen birds from 6 species on the 1-acre pond this morning!

And that’s not all. The male red-winged blackbird finally posed for a picture, as did a female purple finch, and I spotted and got a not bad picture of a male northern flicker.

He would have looked magnificent if the sun had been out, and man oh man, they are shy.

Meanwhile, over by the river, there was no sign of Chet at his duplex. I just don’t know what’s up with that guy.

As always, I try to curate the best of my pictures on flickr at

Estabrook Park

Despite the cold, it was like “old home week” at the pond this morning with the pair of canada geese, the bachelor mallards, the wood ducks, and the pied-billed grebe. Plus the male red-breasted merganser was back along with one female mallard. A male belted kingfisher stopped by, but went away hungry.

Further into the park, towards the river, I spotted a pair of Eastern phoebe’s demonstrating their flycatching prowess to each other, a golden crowned kinglet, and a pair of american goldfinches feasting on the branch of a tamarack tree just starting to leaf out.

Finally, Chet was back in the lower unit again, but he had no visitors that I saw this morning.

As always, I try to curate the best pictures on flickr at

Thirsty Thursday at Estabrook Park

It was a cold and blustery morning at the park, and the canada geese, mallards, wood ducks, and grebe were all going about their usual routine.

With nothing new on the water, and upon the suggestion of new reader Donna Miller, I focused on the bushes and finally managed to catch a couple of still images of the tiny birds flitting around in  there.

The better shot is of a ruby-crowned kinglet:

The worse shot, barely good enough for identification, is of a yellow-rumped warbler, I believe. I expected it to be a golden-crowned kinglet, but note the yellow patches at front of wings as well as the crown.

There was no sign of activity at Chet’s duplex. 🙁

As always, I try to curate the best pictures on flickr at

Hump Day at Estabrook Park

Big day at the park this morning, but nothing too exciting at the pond:

  1. It was very foggy and very still.
  2. The mergansers appear to have all moved on.
  3. The pair of canada geese might still have eggs in the nest after all.
  4. The 3 pairs of wood ducks and 3 mallard bachelors are still hanging around.
  5. The pied-billed grebe and the belted kingfisher both caught fish this morning.
  6. The Narcissus blossoms are finally opening, and the daffodils are right behind them.

The really big news, however, is from further west, along the Milwaukee River, and it is very exciting!


Just as I had nearly given up all hope, I spotted a little head and beak poking out of the lower level.He must have really expanded the inside, because he had receded completely out of sight when SHE SHOWED UP TO LOOK INSIDE!She hung out for a minute or so, and then she flew off. Soon after, he came out to make a couple of calls before also flying off IN THE SAME DIRECTION!That’s all we know at this point, but I will definitely keep you posted as further developments develop further!

Note his full head of red feathers, left and right, and her patch of white feathers on top, in the middle.

As always, I try to curate the best pictures on flickr at

The Estabrook Park Report, Tuesday Edition

It started out slow, with just a couple of mallards and the pair of geese, and I was just about to move on, when a couple with an energetic dog off its leash came by. The dog may a beeline for the shore and immediately attracted the attention of the goose. Soon after, though, it spooked a couple pairs of wood ducks that I am almost positive were roosting on a tree branch over the pond, based on the trajectory they took across the pond. Man, that would have been an awesome shot! I’ll have to check for that first thing from now on.

After all that excitement, I spotted the pied-billed grebe, fishing as always.
At last, the belted kingfisher showed up, and she must finally have been hungry enough to hang around a bit. She flew between a few trees before diving into the water for breakfast. Here’s a picture of her, from across the pond, on a branch with a fish in her beak just before she popped it into her gullet. Woo Hoo!

As always, I try to curate the best pictures on flickr at

Monday, Monday in Estabrook Park

It as a slow Monday morning at the pond. Just the pair of canada geese, 3 male mallards, and a pair of wood ducks on the water. The red-winged blackbird continued to evade a good photo op, but I did catch a female downy woodpecker.

The better show was yesterday afternoon when the sun came out. Long-time subscriber, Carolyn Bucior, alerted me to the presence of turtles sunning themselves, and by the time I got there, I found one by itself on one log and three lined up on another. In the close-up below, you can see the red “ear” that helps identify the red-eared slider.

Also, the little pied-billed grebe seemed to be drying himself out to get ready for a cool night.

As always, I try to curate the best pictures on flickr at

If it’s Sunday, it’s The Estabrook Park Report

There was a lot of action this morning, but I don’t have much to show for it. Both Canada geese were off the pond honking at some other geese when I arrived. The exposed nest looked empty, but I can’t say for sure. The nesting pair did return, and one of them did climb back up on the nest after some more extended honking between them.

The belted kingfisher was back a couple of times, but never settled down long enough for me to get a shot. A red-winged blackbird, which are usually quite bold, in my experience, was quite shy this morning. There is now a big school of carp, some of whom are orange, that I see regularly. I’ve seen one frog in the water, and heard there is also a snapping turtle, which I have not yet seen.

My one okay picture is of a red-tailed hawk causing a bunch of ducks make about as much noise as the geese usually do. They quieted right down as soon as he flew off.

As always, I try to curate the best pictures on flickr at

The Estabrook Park Report, Saturday Edition

There were new birds on the pond this morning! Woo hoo.

Besides the usual cast of characters, the nesting pair of Canada geese, the fraternity of bachelor mallards, the pairs of wood ducks, the solo male red-breasted merganser, and the solo pied-billed grebe (who caught a fish again this morning, I honestly don’t know where it puts them all), this morning we were treated to the additional head feather stylings of a female hooded merganser and a non-breeding male hooded merganser. They pretty much stuck together and flitted back and forth across the pond a few times.

The female is in back with black eyes and a yellow bill, the immature male is in front with yellow eyes, a black bill, and a hint of white in his hood that he will show off when he matures. I don’t yet know if this is some sort of “robbing the cradle” situation or more of an “oedipus complex” situation. Perhaps time will tell.

Meanwhile, I heard and spotted, but could not catch on “film” what appears, for all the world, to be a Belted Kingfisher. I hope to see more of him in the coming days.

Finally, I stopped by Chet’s duplex, but there was still no sign of him. I’m no structural engineering, but I can spout enough malarky with authority to play on on the TV, and my bet is that the upper unit leaked into the lower unit, and every female who took the time to look spotted this right away. Better luck next time, Chet.

Lastly, the Glory-of-the-Snow are blossoming

As always, I try to curate the best pictures on flickr at

The Estabrook Park Report

Grey skies, so the pictures aren’t as pretty as yesterday’s.

  • The pair of Canada Geese are still watching over the pond and incubating their eggs. The male honked at multiple fly-bys, and finally scrambled to chase off another couple that wouldn’t take no for an answer.
  • The Mallard Fraternity is up to 5 members this morning and starting to do some bottom feeding.
  • The male Red-breasted Merganser was back and using a new fishing technique this morning. Instead of just diving, he merely puts his face in the water and trolls forward until he sees something worth diving for, I guess.
  • The Pied-billed Grebe was back and fishing as he’s done before, spending more time underwater than on the surface.
  • The white-haired geezers were also out in force.

I’ve posted a couple of new pictures at

The Estabrook Park Report

  • There was frost on the grass, but the sky was clear, and the breeze was just about nonexistent. The surface of the pond was a mirror.
  • The pair of Canada geese are still there, and I even got a not great shot when the one on the nest stood up, and you can see the tops of some eggs.
  • There are now 3 full pairs of Wood ducks, but based on their antics this morning, they may be still in negotiation. At one point, they along with one mallard and one goose were up on the lawn and chasing each other around. They kept hoping back into the water and back up on the lawn. The only thing missing was the song from the end of a Benny Hill episode. It’s called “Yakety Sax”. Not a lot of people know that.
  • There were no Mergansers this morning, but I did spot the Grebe for just an instant.
  • The Mallards took off just as I walked up, so I don’t have a good count, but at least three flew overhead.
  • A robin started singing its brains out just above me, so I took a picture.
  • Still no sign of Chet at his duplex, but there were a couple of red-bellied woodpeckers on a willow right by the pond. I could only get a picture of one, so can’t tell if they are a pair. The male was calling like crazy, hopped into his new hole, the second one arrived, and they they both flew off.
  • Oh, and yesterday I forgot to mention spotting a single crane flying north over the pond.
  • I’ve posted the best pictures on Flickr at