A short way down the trail, I noted a pair of Northern Harriers flying and dipsy-doodling over the marsh. The female dropped down out of sight, but the male continued on. Unfortunately they were too far for a decent photo.
From the observation tower, I scanned towards the lakeshore and saw at least three Bald Eagles. Two were full adults and the third was a young one. There is a nest nearby to the southwest of the NWA on private property. One can see the nest in the tree now, from the observation tower, but unless one has a scope and the light is good, it is difficult to see what is on the nest. The nest is in a large Eastern Cottonwood tree, one of the most common trees, and certainly the largest, along the shoreline. By May the leaves will obscure the nest activity. The next image, of a first year Bald Eagle, is one I took from the north end of the St. Clair River a couple of months ago under much sunnier conditions.
Red-winged Blackbirds abound. Even though they are so common, I find them interesting, sometimes bold and quite photogenic.
Ring-necked Ducks were fairly numerous and often in groups of three or four....usually one female to several males in pursuit, as shown here.
Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler and Bufflehead were all in flight over the NWA.
These Northern Pintail have a flight profile that is hard to mistake! The leaden gray skies didn't help much with photography, and I didn't get photos of the other ducks mentioned.
On the way back from the observation tower, a pair of Canada Geese decided they needed a resting spot right on the trail.....perhaps it is in their nesting territory.
I did make it to Mitchell's Bay but en route I was surprised by two female Ring-necked Pheasants scooting across the road in front of me. This non-native species is really quite uncommon compared with the numbers they used to be in, although they do persist in small numbers here and there. Presumably their decline has been due to decreasing habitat and increasing coyotes!
At Mitchell's Bay there were extensive open patches of water hosting thousands of ducks....mostly Canvasback, but with a smattering of American Wigeon, Gadwall, Redhead, Common Merganser and Red-breasted Merganser mixed in.
On the way home, I noted more than one feral cat patrolling the grassy roadsides or hedgerows. It is surprising how many of these felines are across the landscape. As the vegetation grows, they will become more hidden and less noticeable to us. But these non-native species are tremendous hunters, so it should come as no great surprise that across the continent there are millions upon millions of birds and other types of wildlife that are killed. Some studies have concluded that more than a billion birds and small wildlife are killed each year by feral and pet cats across North America. This one was patiently waiting along the tunnel of some species of small wildlife and was completely oblivious to me.
Please be aware that I have nothing against cats per se; however 'Fluffy' is designed to hunt small prey, and is quite successful at it. It is our native wildlife that is suffering the consequences. If you have a cat please, for the sake of our wildlife, keep it indoors!