Sunday, December 29, 2013

Some Year-End Birding

red-tailed hawk
An impromptu trip to the Dead Creek area around Addison, Vermont yesterday resulted in some good sightings of hawks.

From the time we left our house, we saw red-tailed hawks along the roadside, sitting in trees or on power lines as this one was.

We didn't see our first rough-legged hawk until we headed north out of Orwell, into the lower Champlain Valley. This one is a light morph, the more common plumage.

He was "kiting" (holding stationary in flight) while searching the field below for prey. Red-tailed hawks also "kite".

We found one snowy owl along the way in West Addison.

 The trees were still covered in ice from the recent ice storm. It didn't seem to bother this red-tailed hawk though.

red-tailed hawk

 A snow bunting posed for some pictures by the side of the road.

 Another rough-legged hawk (this one a dark morph) relieved himself before flying off. We didn't take it personally.......

 The name "Rough-legged" Hawk refers to the feathered legs. This hawk, the Ferruginous Hawk, and the Golden Eagle are the only American hawks to have legs feathered all the way to the toes.

Friday, December 27, 2013

I Heard a Bird Sing.......

Carolina wren
 I found an old book of "famous quotations" that belonged to my great-great aunt Angie. On the yellowed, last page, she had penned this beautiful poem by Oliver Herford (1863 - 1935)
song sparrow
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember
We are nearer to spring
Than we were in September
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Saxtons River Christmas Bird Count

On Saturday December 14th, we had good but really cold weather for our annual Christmas Bird Count. Temps were only 4 degrees when we started out! brrrrrrr!!

 Our first stop was at the seep in Bellows Falls, the water is always warm and filled with ducks, mostly mallards and American blacks. 

Cedar Waxwings were abundant, filling up on all the fruit.

This shot was taken the day before in Walpole when we were scouting out the area. The flock had over 60 birds although none were seen at this spot on Saturday.

Rock Pigeons are always plentiful.

A nice flock of Horned Larks at one of the NH farms.

On the far left is a Lapland Longspur, to the far right is a Snow Bunting, the rest are Horned Larks.

Lots of crows around.

One of my favorite winter birds, the tiny Golden-crowned Kinglet. Here's their story on a blog by Kent McFarland.

Not sure exactly what kind of bird this one is, I may need help with the ID!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Red-tailed Hawk Food Fight!!

We were in the right place at the right time when we birded along River Road in Walpole, NH. This stop was at Boggy Meadow Farm.

We saw two raptors fighting. They were just about out of sight in the soft snow. Gerry started shooting pictures and we tried to figure out what was going on. 

One seemed to have the upper hand or should I say "upper wing".

This looks like - Simon says - raise your right hand.

It was quite a dance!

We were still not sure what was going on, but it looked like the red-tail on the left was winning.

At one point, the red-tail on the right was out of sight.

But he seemed to get back up.

The loser takes off.

Then the winner flies away and now it's apparent. The fight was over a pigeon!

The "trophy" looks rather mangled. Hope it was worth it!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Snowy Owls Along the Coast

We decided to celebrate (more on this at the end) by going to the New Hampshire/Massachusetts coast in search of Snowy Owls! There's been a huge irruption of snowy owls all the way to North Carolina!! Check out this eBird map to see all the sightings. map of snowy owl sightings

first year snowy owl, probably female
Although we only saw 2 snowy owls, we were treated to lots of terrific waterfowl. Enjoy the photos.

male Common Eider

first winter male Common Eider with mature male

 male Surf Scoter

male White-winged Scoter
White-winged Scoters

Horned Grebe

Great Blue Heron

American Black Duck
We are finally back to regular blog postings!! Gerry was diagnosed with lymphoma in May. He spent a grueling summer and fall going through chemotherapy treatments and radiation. We a sooooo happy to say that he is now cancer free and we are looking forward to getting back to our normal life!!