I'm getting a bit behind on my posts so I'm going to try and catch up, this entry covers the last week of March. The title refers to another slightly comic episode I watched and photographed at the Stewart B. McKinney NWR - Salt Meadow Unit in Westbrook. I don't stop there too often and decided to pop in to try something new. When I pulled into the parking lot I saw a male Wild Turkey feeding at the edge of the first lot about 40 yards away. As it worked its way out into the grass area, I decided to park my car at a different angle to shoot out the window. I was hoping the turkey would walk past a patch of tiny white flowers I guessed were crocuses, which I thought would make an interesting picture. It slipped between two patches of flowers, avoiding the main one were I was focusing on, then continued straight across the field towards the refuge headquarters, a stone building with an arched entry way. The tom walked right into the entry and disappeared for a few minutes, leaving me scratching my head. As I was about to get out and see what was going on, it reappeared in the stone archway, strutting about in full display.
Then back It went back into the entry and vanished for a while. This time I had to see what the attraction was. I got out and walked out a way so I could see inside the archway, and noticed a female turkey feeding along the edge of the building just beyond the entry. At this point a jogger went by and I figured the show would end, but the tom continued strutting, as if trying to scare the runner off. I've heard stories of Wild Turkeys attacking people at certain times of the year and have photographed them active aggressively or without fear of people in the spring. The tom continued parading around in front of the doorway, but the female moved on around the building and he eventually followed. After they were out of sight I walked into the archway to see what the attraction could have been. The door was glass but had white window panes that broke up the reflection. Maybe it saw just enough of itself to see rival presenting a challenge to his territory. On a spring trip to Florida years ago I photographed a male Prairie Warbler attacking the side mirror of my rental car, where he saw his own reflection and perceived a challenge. How it ever got close enough to the mirror to see a reflection in the first place I'll never know. Crazy things happen during the season of love.
Elsewhere, the first egrets, both Snowy and Great appeared at Rocky Neck, along with a number of Osprey, Green-winged Teal, Gadwall and American Wigeon out in the salt marshes. In a tiny woodland pool in Waterford, a pair of Wood Ducks made a brief appearance (male pictured).
And at Hammonasset I saw my first (2) Greater Yellowlegs of the year.
To close out the month, I went looking for a Piping Plover. These beautiful shorebirds still may have a tiny foothold of a nesting area at Griswold Point, where despite the close proximity, I have not been out to in a few years. Last Saturday I unknowingly timed an early morning walk with dead low tide and was able to walk out as far as the original breech. It's a great feeling walking on a deserted beach as the sun rises, with your shadow stretching out for yards in front of you. Dozens if not hundreds of Brant stretched out along the shore, nearly the entire way, feeding on the algae covered rocks. Where the beach ends, I made my way across the exposed mud flats and drainages and scanned ahead. A dozen or more Osprey circled around fishing or sat on nests at Great Island. More ducks, including Green-winged Teal, a few American Wigeon and Gadwalls fed in the cove and at the edge of the mud flats while father out on the sound a couple loons and Horned Grebes remained.
As I approached the first small dune (it's actually just a sandbar that doesn't get covered all the way) that survives, I heard the familiar two syllable peep of a Piping Plover, but it took me a while to find it with my binoculars. As I continued scanning, I saw a total of four plovers, mostly feeding out on the mud flats. As I was walking back past the first dune, one plover walked close by and 'guided' me away as though it was protecting its nest territory. I took a few quick pictures and kept going. I had a job to photograph in a few hours so I had to make it an early day. As I headed back to my car the first dog walkers were heading out to the point. It will be interesting to see if the plovers can retain their nesting tradition on the tiny suitable section of the point that is left.