At the park: 46

some assembly requiredM.K., Steve, and I got a head start on nesting season by installing two new boxes along Barnyard Run near its outlet into the main wetland. Steve, whom I haven’t worked with before, turns out to be a dab hand at steering the runabout ATV (which we used to carry our gear) down the trails and across the brush and Smilax.

field modifiableFrom a ladder, I worked the tubular, double-handled mallet (we all call it “the pounder,” but there must be a more precise name for it) in order to seat the support pole in the mud. I stayed up there while Steve redrilled one of the mounting holes in the back of the box.

still kind of bleakready to goIt’s still plenty wintry at the park, as a passing snow shower reminded us. But the new boxes are nice and dry, and ready for this year’s ducks. About ten days ago, M.K. watched a group of about 20 Hooded Mergansers going through pair formation behaviors.