I had a very fun excursion on a birding field trip hosted by the local Audubon society. There were eight of us, including the leader and co-leader of the outing who were very knowledgeable, enthusiastic individuals. The temperatures that day were as they have been for a while – single digit forecasts with wind chills below zero. I had ordered snow pants to add to my birding in cold weather gear and decided to use this excursion as a field test of whether or not they would keep me warm and dry as we tromped through the snow. I am pleased to say that they worked wonderfully and am very glad that I decided to invest in them.
The highlight of the trip for me was the Barred Owl I spotted sitting silently next to the trunk of the tree. There was a comical couple of minutes while I, the last in our single-file line of marchers in the snow, tried to *silently* get everyone’s attention to look at the owl. Eventually we caught everyone and they got a glimpse of the beautiful bird in what may actually have been it’s nesting cavity. The idea of being able to watch for Barred Owl babies is an exciting one to me, but we will see what happens. The other highlight was a Merlin perched near the parking lot of the nature preserve. Overall the trip was very productive with me adding two new species to my life list – the Barred Owl and the Merlin. Other notable sightings during the trip were several Red-headed Woodpeckers, a very large gaggle of turkeys, and a Great Blue Heron wintering over in a local spring. I was not able to get a very good picture of the Merlin unfortunately because of how dark it was that early in the morning, but here at some of the other pictures I took during the trip.