Along the Air Line... 2008-2009 - Winter, Part 4
The Air Line Trail in Eastern Connecticut - Stan Malcolm Photos

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February 12th. A Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) frightened away from its recent Grey Squirrel kill.



February 13th. Open water on the channel side of the marsh has attracted back the resident Mallard (Anas platyrhrnchos) population.






...and grooming.






This male wears a band.






February 14th. They're back! Today I heard, then saw, my first Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) of the year.



Last year I heard them on February 12th. Pretty consistent. (How do they do it?)



February 18th. Each day it seems there are more blackbirds back...



...posturing, calling "chirrr-eee"...



...and spreading their territories closer to the trail.



February 19th. Mid-afternoon. A lone Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) approaching the marsh, calling as it circled in to land.






The goose alighted not far from a collapsed beaver lodge that has served as a nest site in past years. Could this bird be returning? (We'll see if it hangs around or flies on.)



The goose wandered around a bit, but mostly remained still, calling occasionally during the 3/4 hour that I watched.



As I edited these photos, I noticed a thread of some sort hanging from the goose's mouth. Monofilament fishing line perhaps?



While mostly still, the goose wouild occasionally exercize its wings.

































With light failing and rain beginning to fall, I left the goose to its solitary vigil.



February 21st. One of last year's Oriole nests persists and looks to be in pretty good shape. The Orioles will start a new nest from scratch this year, but other birds will probably dismantle this nest for building materials.



Note how the maple buds have swollen and are showing color. Signs of spring are everywhere.