I returned to Amnicola Marsh to see what I might find on another day. The Hooded Mergansers I had seen on Monday were back, or a group like them had arrived. I counted thirty-two this time. I thought the living tide had continued on South, but perhaps they were only in another part of the urban wetlands along the river.
They moved in stately grace as heads bobbed with each forward movement. They dove at intervals, resurfacing in a brief moment. They did not appear to be fishing, merely swimming for the motion of it. I watched for just a few minutes before they fled across the pond. Along went three Green Winged Teal – the shading on the trailing edge of the wings is obvious.
Several American Coots and one Pied-billed Grebe dove in the marsh's shallows. A few Mallards dabbled along, but the usually prominent Canada Geese were absent. A Great Blue Heron filled out the complement of water birds.
Land birds primarily consisted of a winter flock of American Robins. They flitted from tree to tree and landed in a puddle where the marsh had overflowed its banks. They bathed despite the forty-degree air and with vigorous shaking that I have been tempted to label enjoyment, though no one knows if birds feel any emotion or not. Other than the American Robins, the land birds included Northern Mockingbirds, Northern Cardinals, two European Starlings, a Downy Woodpecker, and a Common Flicker (Yellow Shafted Form).
As I neared my turnaround point, a motion in a tree drew my eyes upward to see a raccoon, reminding me that birds are not the only residents here. The furbearer climbed into a fork in the trunk, where a cozy platform of leaves and twigs awaited. I know raccoons nest in hollows of trees, so this was more likely a convenient resting place than a home. Alert and wary, the creature watched me as I made the return trip to my truck.