Along the Air Line... 2011-2012 - Winter, Part 3
The Air Line Trail in Eastern Connecticut - Stan Malcolm Photos

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Stan Malcolm Photo

 

 

February 6th.  An odd looking bird, far out on the marsh.

 

 

More like an odd duck; an escaped domestic Muscovy Duck to be precise: Cairina moschata

 

 

Muscovy Ducks are about the size of Canada Geese, but not so handsome.

 

 

 

 

 

February 7th. Three distant black birds.  Could they be Red-winged Blackbirds?

 

 

No sign of colored "epaulettes", and no distinctive calls.

 

 

Hard to tell at this distance, but looking more like crows.  This one has a large item in its beak.

 

 

Ah, now the story becomes clearer.  They're crows, and they've spotted a hawk.

 

 

Looks like it might be a female Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) based on the white stripe above its eye.  A female Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) is another strong possibility, though I don't see the typical white rump.

 

 

Midday on the 7th and our stretch of unseasonably warm dry weather continues.

 

 

Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) are enjoying the open water.

 

 

Water off a duck's back; not just a saying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looks like the beavers have been improving their lodge.

 

 

Hmm, that's not a TV antenna, is it?  (Do beavers know about Cargo Cults?)

 

 

February 8th.  Twentythree degrees and clouds moving in.  A skim of ice back across the marsh.

 

 

 

 

 

February 9th. A walk beside Grayville Falls.

 

 

These undercut trees have hung on for more than the ten years I've known them.

 

 

Warm light on a pool downstream from the junction of the Jeremy River with Raymond Brook.

 

 

The pool's outlet.

 

 

Black-capped Chickadees (Peocile atricapilla) were active, as were Golden-crowned Kinglets; the latter too fast for pictures.

 

 

I'm pretty sure these basal rosettes are of Watercress ( Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum), a nice touch of green in an otherwise nasty, algae-filled trailside ditch.

 

 

February 21st.  I'm glad to be back after ten days in England visiting my daughter and granddaughter.  Sixteen degrees and a skin of ice over all the marsh except...

 

 

...a small area kept open by Canada Geese and Mallards.

 

 

Very nice to see geese heading north instead of south.  (One of the morning trail regulars reported hearing a first Red-winged Blackbird on February 15th, but no sightings yet, and no more calls.)

 

 

 

 

 

February 22nd.  First Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) that I've seen on the marsh.  Later in my walk, I saw and heard several others in the far distance.

 

 

A pair of Hooded Mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus) in the far distance.  They soon took flight and were gone.

 

 

February 23rd. A pair of Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) this morning.  This is the male.

 

 

 

 

 

The female is more gray than blue.

 

 

February 24th.  Several inches of heavy wet snow overnight have transformed the trail.

 

 

The old United Distillers chimney.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mallards broke trails through the thin ice.