When we arrived back in Oakwood last Sunday the Robins were waiting for us, the lake was still covered with ice, although it had taken on that leaden dull look that it gets as it rots away. In most years this would be precursor to a week of patches of open water and crushed ice being blown back and forth cross the lake. This year the temperatures were running into the high 70s and lake was open water by Tuesday. By Wednesday the small ducks of the northern lakes were here. I thought they were Goldeneyes, flying in small squadrons, like winged bullets shooting just over the surface. They are small ducks - very fast, often called Whistlers for the sound their wings make cutting through the wind. Lorna said she thought they were Buffleheads. She's probably right, because I'm a little blind and was relying more on a "Blink" identification. Either way, they are close cousins and both are headed for the boreal forest lakes of northern Minnesota and Canada and need to get any jump they can get on the short nesting season.
By Thursday the Wood Ducks were here, already nicely paired off and flying from oak to oak nervously checking the various natural tree cavities and nesting boxes scattered in backyards along the lake. This photo is a little fuzzy because I shot it from our bedroom through two panes of glass and a window screen. That has a tendency to knock down the clarity a little.
Today, one week after we returned, the Crocuses and Hepatica are starting to bloom. It's Spring in Oakwood.