Winter along the river can be pretty brutal with a cold damp wind coming across the water and only a thin screen of trees to break the wind. On this day some of the still water was frozen, and there was little wind. Although the day started out gray and cloudy, by the time I got to the river the thick clouds were breaking up, there was some blue sky and the temperature had climbed to just above freezing, brutal it was not.
As soon as I got near the river there were a few waterfowl in sight in a patch of open water. There was ice near the shore so the ducks were quite far away, a pair of common goldeneyes –
A small flock of buffleheads –
And a group of common mergansers –
Further along a large dark wing flashed from the ice below and behind a large silver maple on top of the riverbank. The bird belonging to the wing was out of sight behind the tree, but the wing was just a preliminary movement of an adult bald eagle that flushed from the ice. The eagle flew out over the river, turned and quickly disappeared upstream, screened by a maze of branches.
The eagle was down on the ice because it was feeding on the carcass of a dead raccoon that it had dragged from the shore –
About a half mile further along the river there was the eagle, perched in a tree until it flushed again and flew out of sight –
With that I turned around and headed back downstream. In a riffle two female common mergansers were looking for fish in the shallow water near a small island –
A flock of 20-25 Canada geese fed and rested in the quiet water below the riffle –
And closer to shore were some lesser scaup –
Except for mergansers and resident mallards there haven’t been any ducks on this section of the river all winter – these are a sign of the coming spring.
In a tree a mile further on was a peregrine falcon, this bird also screened by branches and twigs –
It was the female of the pair that has nested beneath a nearby bridge. She stretched and flexed her wings, perhaps the prelude to an opportunity to photograph a peregrine in flight –
Nope, she didn’t take flight. Two hundred yards further along her smaller, lighter mate was perched in a tree with a more open crown –
The account of my riverside walk and the opportunities for photos ends with a winter stonefly that had emerged from the river –
more than half over and spring is fast approaching with even more
riverside sightings in the offing. In any season of the year there's always something interesting to see in forest and field – and on the river.