After two days getting up before 4:00 a.m., it was wonderful sleeping in somewhat Sunday morning before going over to the Portage. I had no expectations, I only wanted to go out and explore. Perhaps that is the best thing about going to a place you know well: you are always primed for surprises. I started walking in slowly around 8:30. Mine was the only car in the parking lot, so I had the entire place to myself. And it was quiet.
I was not surprised to see Wood Ducks, indeed they have been there every time, but it was special to see the young drakes in their new grownup plumage.
The surprise was seeing two young raccoons behind them.
I managed to get a picture of one.
The last few visits to the Portage have been scarce on woodpecker sightings even though I knew they were always there…so it was nice to see this Red-Bellied Woodpecker.
Through a break in the trees, a Red-Tailed Hawk was visible, perched on a bare limb over the water.
While I was trying to photograph the Magnolia Warbler below…
a Winter Wren caught my eye. It’s always a surprise to see a Winter Wren. Especially after I had given up trying to find the Carolina Wren who was singing earlier.
And not all the Gray Catbirds have left.
Heavy rainfall the night before filled the bottomland with water.
A lone Canada Goose was by the water near the Wood Ducks, standing on one foot
while many more flew overhead.
The most unusual sighting did not produce great pictures, but there were enough to identify a Northern Parula. My ebird sighting was questioned because I had to add this bird to the list; I did not dare add it until I was sure I had pictorial proof.
There was no shortage of Yellow-Rumped Warblers. Indeed, they were everywhere, although none were as photogenic as the week before. But I caught this one skipping across the duckweed.
The change of seasons renders the Portage a magical place.