The sun returns to Estabrook

First things first, the pair of canada geese and all 8 goslings are still doing fine. I checked on them yesterday afternoon, and the goslings were out munching on the grass in the drizzle. Today, they were all dried out and catching some zzzs in the sun.

I also spotted a pair of cowbirds, which surprised me a little. The last time I saw them, there were three females working across the lawn looking for tasty morsels, and three males sitting in a tree entertaining themselves. I didn’t even realize they were the same species until I got home and looked them up. Given their habit of laying their eggs in the nest of other birds and not participating in raising their young, I wouldn’t have guessed I’d see a male-female pair doing something so mundane together as just searching through the grass for something to eat, but here they are:

The Pedia of Wik reports:
“The brown-headed cowbird eggs have been documented in nests of at least 220 host species, including hummingbirds and raptors. The young cowbird is fed by the host parents at the expense of their own young. Brown-headed cowbird females can lay 36 eggs in a season. More than 140 different species of birds are known to have raised young cowbirds.”

I also captured a nice image of a bird that took me forever to ID, even with the fancy “Merlin” App from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. She turns out to be a female red-wing blackbird and is neither black nor has red wings. I’ve put her picture online at

Rainy, rainy day in Estabrook Park

The hourly forecast does not dip below an 80% chance of rain all day today, the ducks will be loving it, I bet, the geese and goslings will at least enjoy the lack of visitors, and the pilgrims should be arriving any day now.

Fortunately, I managed to visit the park again yesterday afternoon before the rain came, and the canada geese and 8 goslings were all still doing fine. Chipmunks were everywhere, seriously, I saw them four separate times, the trout lilies are really opening up en masse,

and I finally captured an image of the surprisingly elusive white-throated sparrow that I hear all the time now singing his iconic song. It’s worth a listen if you don’t already know it. You’ll probably say to yourself “so that’s where that comes from!”

He and his merry band were quickly but diligently working their way across the forest floor leaving nary a leaf unturned.

The best of the pictures I have managed to collect, including nice male and female cowbird shots, are all online at

The first robin egg of spring in Estabrook

It was a foggy morning, so I was probably looking at the ground more than the sky, and that’s how I spotted my first robin egg of the spring just off the Oakleaf Trail.

The 8 goslings all seemed healthy and were getting ready for their morning nap when I got to the pond.

There continues to be plenty of wrestling between Dad and several other pairs of geese.

As usual, I spotted a few new birds, swallows over the pond and a blue jay high in a tree by the river, but have no pictures to prove it.

The best of the pictures I do have are all online at

Swimin’ Laps in Estabrook Park Pond

On my way to the pond, as I was trying to take an artsy picture of bloodroot blossoms that are finally opening up fully, I happened to spot this female cardinal working on her nest just about 4 feet off the ground and 10 feet off the oakleaf trail.

She’s camouflaged pretty good in there, eh?

By the time I finally arrived at the pond, it was already nap time for the goslings. They were all tucked up under mom’s wings, and not a one was visible. Even dad was playing it cool and allowing some interlopers to nose around the island on the far side.
I headed west toward the river to bide my time, and have no new sightings to show for it. Happily, by the time I got back to the pond, it was family swim time. Yup, their strict regimen of eating grass, swimming in mom’s slipstream, and sleeping under her wings seems to be working perfectly. All 8 youngins, who are no more than 72 hours old at this point, seem fit as fiddles.

Dad’s pulling up the rear, just out of frame. Once they were all safely ashore, he proceeded to give some interlopers what for.

I only include a couple of pictures in these messages so that they don’t bounce back from some of your mailboxes. I post the rest of the best online at

‘Mazing Morning in Estabrook Park

First, and foremost, all eight (8) goslings were chasing their mom around and feasting on the grass beside the pond in the warm morning sun by the time I got there, so they survived another night. Phew! I’m not sure if they even go back to the island any more. Also in attendance were a few mallards, a slew of wood ducks, a hooded merganser pair briefly, and two new canada geese pairs. I don’t know if now that the goslings have hatched that the parents are just less adamant about chasing away the interlopers, or the interlopers are just more adamant about floating around on the pond. There are still chases, but none result in anyone flying off anymore, as was always the case before.

The big surprise guest, however, was a magnificent great blue heron, who was spooked and took off before I realized it was there. Dang!

Other fun new sightings this morning include a gray catbird and a brown thrasher.

Second chances at better photos were offered by a northern flicker and an eastern phoebe.

I didn’t want to hog the pond and had a hope of spotting another heron, so I went down to the the river to see what I could see, and there was another family of canada geese that felt compelled to abandon a little patch of grass on the far side and cross the river with 3 goslings in tow. It looked like a harrowing adventure for the little ones, who appeared to struggle to stay close to mom and in her slipstream, but I am relieved to report that they all made it safely to calmer waters on the east side. Phew again!

Anyway, pictures of the catbird, thrasher, flicker, phoebe, and many more are online at

TGIF, or whatever day this is, in Estabrook

After yesterday morning’s truncated outing due to April showers, I went out again in the afternoon, as one does, to get in the steps I had missed earlier. Nothing much had changed since the morning, and I was heading back home, when I spotted what looked like a soda can down an embankment. I was pretty sure that I had spotted this can before, and it didn’t appear to be making very much progress up the bank on its own, so I ventured down to see if I could be of some help. Once I was down there, of course, I spotted several other items that looked like they could use a hand as well. So, I’m carefully threading my way through the light underbrush when you wouldn’t believe what I spotted:

That’s right, Bambi’s mom and her sister Edna, too, where just chillin’ together in the woods. They hardly seemed to be concerned about me, either, not like some of these dang birds of which I try to capture an image from time to time. Bambi’s mom made herself busy with some little itch on her right shoulder, before staring me straight in the eyes, and Edna didn’t even bother to get up.

Anyway, with that image already on my SDHC card, I felt a lot less pressure to perform this morning. I just went out, got in my steps, and enjoyed the sights and sounds. The pond was surprisingly busy with a couple-three blue-winged teals, a half dozen wood ducks, a few mallards, and one pair of canada geese, which they strictly enforce.
I finally did stumble upon some other stuff worth 5 mb: some yellow marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) that is finally in full bloom, and some male American pussy willow blossoms. Those and some other pictures are online at

Caught in the rain at Estabrook

Not a whole lot to report this morning. I had just gotten to the pond, just missed taking a picture of a wood duck up in a tree, just taken a picture of some creeping charlie blossoms, and the skies opened up. I waited out the worst of it under the leaning trunk of a huge willow tree, and then headed back home. Can’t win ’em all, eh?

Our friends at Wikipedia say

Glechoma hederacea (syn. Nepeta glechoma Benth.Nepeta hederacea (L.Trevir.) is an aromaticperennialevergreen creeper of the mint family Lamiaceae. It is commonly known as ground-ivygill-over-the-ground,[1] creeping charliealehooftunhoofcatsfootfield balm, and run-away-robin.[1] It is also sometimes known as creeping jenny, but that name more commonly refers to Lysimachia nummularia. It is used as a salad green in many countries. European settlers carried it around the world, and it has become a well-established introduced and naturalized plant in a wide variety of localities.

It is considered an aggressive invasive weed of woodlands and lawns in some parts of North America. In the absence of any biological control research conducted by the USDA[2] herbicides are relied upon, despite their drawbacks, particularly for woodland ecosystems. The plant’s extensive root system makes it difficult to eradicate by hand-pulling.-

These and some other pictures are online at

The morning after in Estabrook

Anne and I both slept so well, I suspect those beans we had last night were magic.

Anyway, it was an interesting morning in the park. I was just sitting on a bench by the pond when the goose that was not on the nest started honking, but I couldn’t see what he (if only for the sake of simpler language) was honking about. As far as I could see, there were no dogs approaching the water, no other geese flying overhead, but there were a pair of geese out on the grass to the south of the pond that I hadn’t noticed. He sure had, however, and he flew down there to dissuade them from coming any closer.

I was about to continue my walk further into the park, but he was down there honking away at the other pair, and now they were honking back and coming closer, and so I decided to violate Starfleet General Order 1 and see if I could help resolve the dispute. As I walked towards the pair, suggesting to them that this was not the pond they were looking for, our guy must have decided “enough is enough” and came over my shoulder from behind with what felt like about 3 feet of separation. Be still my heart!

Well, they all took to the air, had a great little chase, the pair headed east, our hero returned to the pond, and I headed on my way to the river. Mission Accomplished!
After all that excitement, we had a nice little graupel shower, the sun came out, and I spotted this little clump of toadshade fixin’ to blossom soon.

These and some other pictures are online at

Taco Tuesday at Estabrook Park

It was surprisingly cold, but that was the most noteworthy aspect of this morning’s excursion. Leaves were frozen to the litter I picked up.

Later this afternoon I headed out again, the sun had warmed things up a bit, and I finally found a patch of trout lilies that have fully opened up. This is what they look like from below.

 Not too shabby, eh, for a blossom that might be about an inch across on a stalk about 4 inches tall.

Then I headed home for the tacos Anne was making out of the can of organic refried beans I found in the parking lot on Sunday, and just as I approached the Kilbourntown House near the south end of the park, look who deigned to pose for me.

Nope, not just the indigo bunting of good cheer, but the actual freaking eastern bluebird of happiness! Yee Haw!

These and some other pictures are online at