It was a year ago when I went on an Audubon outing and discovered the rich farmland habitat where I find so many interesting critters. It was a beautiful spring morning and I decided to see what was happening in the outdoor world.
The first thing I noticed was that the farmland ponds were completely free of ice. Finally! I expected to begin seeing birds and waterfowl enjoying the ponds as they made their migratory journeys.
Right away I saw all the regulars: geese, gulls, and mallards. Then I saw this sandpiper wading through the shallows of one of the ponds. I wondered where it had been and where it was headed.
Then this Hooded Merganser caught my eye as it paddled across one of the ponds. What an unusual shape its head has! A very striking duck, to be sure.
The next critter I spied wasn't waterfowl; it was a muskrat! It was busy carrying vegetation from one side of the pond to the other.
The whole atmosphere was different this morning. Fields that had been under layers of snow three weeks ago had already been plowed and spread with manure. What a smell filled the air!
And besides the sights and smells, bird song also filled the air. The most common sounds came from the Red-winged Blackbirds. Their trill surely meant they were happy with morning sunshine too.
That wasn't the only birdsong I heard. The familiar bugling call of Sandhill Cranes caught my attention from above and I was able to catch them in flight.
But what was especially fun was seeing what happened next. As the cranes reached the treeline, they extended their legs and floated in on extended wings for the landing.
It didn't take long for them to head over to the nearby cornfield and begin feasting on the leftover stalks. Sustenance was needed following their flight!