Thursday, March 20, 2014

More Mergansers on the First Day of Spring

Today was a beautiful day, warm and bright, and perfectly appropriate for the first day of spring! To celebrate the turning seasons, I went for a walk in Naugatuck State Forest this afternoon. I was hoping, when I set out, that the mid-50s weather and the rain-soaked ground would bring out the Wood Frogs, but I saw no signs of amphibians yet. Ah well, there's plenty of time to meet up with these creatures in the weeks to come. In the meantime, there were lots of other things to see in the woods!

As soon as I arrived, I was greeted in the parking area by a flock of American Robins feasting on cascades of bittersweet berries (the introduced Asian plant species, I believe):

Now that the ground is soft and mostly snow-free, I would expect the robins to be hunting for food there. But I guess these birds still like their fruit, too:

The bodies of water in this park are still mostly iced over, but the melting edges made some cool-looking paths through the ice:

And who should be in one pond's melted corner but a trio of Hooded Mergansers! This seems to be quite the week for Hooded Mergansers, after my other relatively close viewing a few days ago. Well, I'm always happy to see such awesome birds! The trio included two males, who were (of course) gorgeous:

Hello, Mr. Merganser, with your funny head.

There was quite a bit of chasing and stretching and preening among the two males, who were probably hoping to impress the single female. I guess it's getting to be that time!

I also love how, for all their elegance in some poses, the males can look downright frumpy when those hoods go down:

And I have to say, as awesome as the males are, I'm kind of obsessed with the female Hooded Merganser right now. How beautiful is her auburn hairdo?

What a glamorous lady:

I spent a long time with the mergansers, but there were lots of other cool sights as well. This orange fungus looks like it's about to explode out of this tree.

And this sleek Sharp-shinned Hawk perched up high with its songbird meal (looking like it had two tails):

What a wonderful day in the woods. Happy first day of spring!

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