I was watching two Gray Catbirds in the birdbath this morning when three smaller birds flew and landed nearby. Instantly in stealth mode, I grabbed a camera and skulked out onto the deck - at which point all three little birds scattered. However, I was able to get one shot of this Red-eyed Vireo (heavily cropped, alas) in one of our pine trees before they all went up into the canopy of the tall trees. In the group was an American Redstart and what I think was another red-eyed vireo. Anyway, even though the image is really ridiculously cropped, it came out well enough to use it for my visual record of yard birds for 2020.
After a very enjoyable chat with my parents, I loaded up the kayak and headed out for a paddle. It was beautiful on the lake and I found my zen in the easy rhythm of paddling...until I was distracted by a small raptor waayyy up high in a tree over the lake. The shape of the head made me think Kestrel and in was not until I got home that I realized it was a Merlin. Only the second time I've seen this species so that's king of exciting. The pictures are all crap, but I'll put one in Extra in case you want to see it. Merlins are falcons (like Kestrels) and also very small, only about an inch longer than a Kestrel. They are migrating now.
Also on the lake was the same pied-billed grebe that has been there for at least the past week. I was only about 30 feet away from it when I realized it was there (I'd been intent on the Merlin) so couldn't resist firing off some shots. Click HERE to see the grebe in full fluff. There is something very endearing about Grebes.
When I got home, I took some peanuts out to the deck and chummed the blue jays and chipmunks. Not sure who was happier - them or me. While I was dispensing peanuts, I happened to see a late-season House Wren flitting around. Never know what you'll see this time of year.
We have one more nice day tomorrow so after I see my doctor, I may try to get out on the water again. After that, we are in for a few days of rain.
Stay safe, be kind.