Monday, March 16, 2015

Searching for Wildlife

According to my wall calendar, this is National Wildlife Week, so my friend Sue and I went searching for wildlife on Sunday afternoon, despite the threat of rain and a cold blustery wind.   The Hudson River seemed the most likely spot for spotting migrating waterfowl, but it took some searching to find any open water on the still-mostly-frozen river.  We found some at Hudson Crossing Park in Schuylerville, and made our way down to the waterside by post-holing through packed snow.

Oh look, there's a Great Blue Heron!  Ha ha!  I think it will be quite a few weeks yet before we see this majestic bird wading the shallows, although his cast-iron image stands guard all year along the trail at Hudson Crossing Park.

We made our way to this refurbished bridge, closed to automobiles but open to pedestrians, bikers, and snowmobiles.  This was a good spot to survey both the sky and the river, searching for any signs of animal life.

Sue spotted at least one Bald Eagle soaring over the treeline, as well as a pair of Common Mergansers disappearing downstream before I could notice them.  And then she pointed out a big bunch of ducks milling about upstream. Although they were just black specks on the water to me, Sue immediately identified them as a flock of Goldeneyes.  And so they were, my binoculars confirmed. The males were doing their "Look at Me!" thing, throwing their heads way back and then sharply forward, and we could hear them  "peenting" at the same time.  I didn't know a Goldeneye could sound like a Nighthawk!  I do know they kind of whistle when they fly.

The zoom on my little camera is woefully inadequate for capturing distant creatures, but at least you can see the broad white sides of these Goldeneyes, even if you can't see the white cheek spot or anything like a golden eye.

As a frigid wind kept whipping our reddened cheeks and dripping noses, we decided we'd seen enough wildlife for the day.  But at least we know the migration season is now upon us, and soon these waters will open wide to welcome more and more migrating flocks of waterfowl.  And we'll be back!

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