We are nearing the end of the semester which feel great but there are still several end-of-year projects I have to get handed in before I can celebrate. All last week it was in the low 40’s and rainy which was just miserable. My coworkers and I were all getting restless not being able to do much besides going to work and back home and back to work again. The weather broke this weekend and it was like OMGINEEDTOGOBIRDINGNOW. So I’ve finally been outside and trying to see what sort of interesting migrants are out and about. The weird weather has definitely impacting migration for the worse with many species not yet where they should be.
Despite that here are some of my favorite pictures from my last two birding trips.
The weather took a change for the beautiful so I made a point of getting out early to see what sort of new spring birds had moved into the area. The last time I had been on this particular trail it was an absolute ice rink which meant I spent more time watching my footing than birding. I was happy to discover today that almost all of the ice had cleared leaving me free to stare into the trees without worrying (too much) about falling flat on my face. The highlight of this particular trip were Mr. & Mrs. Bluebird. The pair was hanging out right near the trail which provided me with ample opportunities for pictures. The male was an absolutely gorgeous shade of blue so it was a real treat to see him in good sunlight. I had a first of the year experience on this trip with a White-throated sparrow that was skulking in the bushes. Other species include the ever present woodpeckers for that area: Downy and Red-bellied; White-breasted Nuthatches, Red-winged Blackbirds (very much a sign of spring!), Canadian Geese, Sandhill Cranes, Dark-eyed Juncos, tons and tons of Robins, and what I think was an immature Red-tailed hawk but s/he was flying against the sun and I didn’t want to risk blindness looking any closer through the binoculars.
Well winter is refusing to give up and let spring come so we are still experiencing below zero wind chills and snowy weather. I for one am very very ready for spring to hurry up and get here. I made myself go birding though because with everything going on I needed that stress relief of just walking in the woods to see what I could see. In the sheltered areas of the trees the birds were singing their ‘it’s almost spring’ songs which made me feel a little better even if the wind was biting my cheeks. I got a kick out of the chickadees playing around in the shrubs – they really are fun to watch. The cardinals were also laying claim to their territories and singing loudly over the pines.
There is a pond fed by a natural spring which I’ve mentioned before, and also posted pictures from, where the water stays open year round. Today it was so cold there was steam coming off of the water which made for some really neat visuals as the Mallards swam around.
Well looking at the weather forecast it looks like I have embarked on my last birding excursion for the 2013 year. Looking back on the year I can say that I have added to my life list, but definitely not to the degree I had hoped to. Still, my skills in telling apart sparrows has improved over this year which is something so I am grateful to get that experience under my belt.
Yesterday was gorgeous so I’m glad I went birding: the sun was out, the skies were clear and there was little wind. Despite that though, there was not a lot of bird activity. I went to check out the spring in a local nature preserve that stays open pretty much year round but the only birds in evidence were a pair a Tree Sparrows. In fact it was pretty much all Tree Sparrows that kept me company on my walk. Those and hundreds of Canadian Geese flying overhead. I did enjoy the walk though so I’m glad I went but I had hoped to at least see a few more winter-specific species on my trip.
On my way back to my car I ran into a flock of probably 40+ Tree Sparrows foraging long the path and in the long grass which was a lot of fun. They are gregarious little things and didn’t seem to mind me watching their antics. A few even posed nicely for me in the snow letting me snap a few pictures.
One of the many geese flyovers during my trip.
Tree Sparrow – my fav pic of the trip. He seems to be posing for me between nibbles. 🙂
This morning was absolutely gorgeous – low 60’s with a light breeze to keep off the bugs. I couldn’t resist going out for some birding since the last week has been continuously rainy and unpleasant. There were a few other people around but not so many as to be a distraction or otherwise scare away my quarry. I got to add four more species to my life list which always seems to make a trip worthwhile. 🙂 New species included Yellow Warbler, Pine Warbler, Red-headed Woodpecker and Chipping Sparrow. Here are some of my favorite pictures from the excursion: