Winter Birding Gear Test

I finally went out and did a true test of my winter birding gear this morning. I’m pleased to say that everything worked very well. I actually ended up getting too warm and had to take off my balaclava towards the end of my walk. Despite the wind it was a gorgeous day and I ended up with some beautiful pictures. The highlight though was a huge mixed flock of waterfowl, amongst which were quite a few Tundra Swans. I had never seen a Tundra Swan before, but their raucous calling was a lot of fun to listen to. Their calls echoed across the water is a cacophony of noise. To listen to what their calls sounded like click here. My juvenile bald eagle friend also made an appearance. S/he was trying desperately to ignore the American Crows that were harassing and yelling at him.

Here are some of my favorite shots of the morning:

Sometimes the Wind is Not Ok

I went birding yesterday, Saturday, with one of my fellow bird-nerds. Getting motivated to go birding in winter is a chore let me tell you. I had to think about how to do this because I am currently still in the market for an uber, long, down coat so I sort of cobbled together layers that would keep me from freezing as we wandered around the point. The point I’m referring to is a tiny jut of land that is part of a nature park near where I live. From the point you have a spectacular view of the surrounding lake and area. The fact that you are on a peninsula however means that you are subject to extremely biting winds coming off of the water. That wind manages to always find any sort of crack or break in  your cold-weather defenses. Overall I did ok in terms of not completely freezing. My face was the one area that really was numb by the time the sun had gone down and we’d wandered back to our vehicular transport. I wore double socks to help keep my feet from becoming frozen which worked fairly well so I think that might be my plan for future winter outings. I still want to invest in the coat though. Coat with hood. I am also going to invest in a balaclava to keep my face warmish even though it will make me look like I’m up to no good lol.

My habit is to carry my camera with me on all birding outings just in case something awesome happens by. Winter is making this a bit more of a chore and a challenge. I should probably look up to what temperature my camera can handle before it completely freaks out and/or breaks down. I shall need to research this. In any case, here are some of the pictures I captured on this trip.

Hiding in Plain Sight

The last time I had been birding was too long ago. I didn’t realize how much I had missed it until I finally managed to make myself get out and take a nice two hour walk this morning. The weather was cold, and since I was on a peninsula in the lake it was quite windy. However the sun was out and so were the birdies despite the best efforts of loud runners to scare everything away.  My goal this winter is to try and see things that only visit when it is cold outside. I missed the migration period due to bad weather and poor health so I am making up for lost time.

This trip was particularly fruitful because I got to see a couple of new species I hadn’t seen before and even managed to snag some pictures of them as well which was pretty cool. One new species was the Brown Creeper – a tiny little brown bird that scoots up the trunks of trees and only visits the US in winter. Very, very difficult to see against the bark of the tree. The only thing that gave him away was the scrapping noise he made pulling tasty tidbits out of the bark. There was also a Bald Eagle just chilling in a tree that I got a chance to photograph. I happened to look up at just the right moment and there he was. This eagle definitely was watching me watch him though. I felt scrutinized.

Here are some of my favorite shots from today’s excursion.

Eagerly Awaiting the Return

The folks over at the Raptor Resource Project recently released this video of Bob Anderson, head of the project, being interviewed about the Decorah Eagle nest cam project. The video also includes footage of the team setting up the nest cam for the upcoming season. I am super excited for when the eagle cam will be back on and I get to watch my favorite eagle family. I cannot wait until they return to the nest! 🙂

Picture of Dad from last season sitting on the eggs March 2012.

Glorious Autumn

The colors have really picked up around here in the last week. It’s amazing how much change has occurred in such a short time period. I went birding this morning and finally, finally hit a total of 50 species! I am very excited to have reached this milestone. The Eastern Towhee has the honor of being my 50th birdie. There were three of them scratching around on the forest floor looking for tasty morsels amongst the leaves. They were maybe 6 feet from me but didn’t care that I was there at all. One of these guys:

I started my bird identification list when I decided to really apply myself to learning about the birds in the local area. I believe I really started doing this around May or so, but an official start date doesn’t really exist. Birds on the list are ones that have been identified by me, not a guide or anything like that. Identification by birdsong is a weak area of mine that I am looking to bolster. A few songs I know now which is neat but I have a long ways to go. If you are interested in participating  in bird watching and bird counts check out ebird, a sight that compiles citizen data to track bird populations and migration patterns.

Here are some shots from my latest excursion:

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