Late this afternoon when the temperature hit 55, we headed to the Lower Chippewa River for a stroll, and then down to Meridean to see if it was warm enough for the insects to be out and about.
Along the Chippewa River State Trail by County M, I heard a familiar sound "like dragging your finger over a well-inflated balloon" (according to Amphibians of Wisconsin). I stopped and look for the frog that created it. I scanned the wetlands, but the frog was invisible. Try as I did, I could not spot it.
While I was looking down, I heard the faint calls of Tundra Swans over head. I gave up on finding the frog and looked up. I looked, and looked. I couldn't see them either.
Then I spotted a faint silver flash as a skein of 30 or more high-flying swans turned - and their feathers caught the sun. There they were. Way, way up there. Too high and too far away for a photo.
Further up the road on the way to Meridean we were surprised to see our favorite oxbow - empty of waterfowl. No ducks. No geese. What's up?
I stopped wondering when I spotted a Canada Goose, dead on a patch of ice floating near the shore.
Just south of Meridean, we stopped on a little bridge to check out 2 ducks swimming away towards the river. I grabbed my binoculars and got a good look before they disappeared in the flooded forest. Hooded Mergansers!
The smallest of the three mergansers found in Wisconsin, the drake is a strikingly handsome black and white bird with a fan-shaped, crested head, rusty brown flanks and narrow, black serrated bill.