Thursday, January 31, 2019
One of the first things I did after moving into my new home in mid-December was to set up my bird feeders. I don’t have any landscaping yet, so I wasn’t sure how many birds would find me.
As the cold weather set in, and the snow began, the tops of my feeders became a measuring stick for how deep the snow was.
An American Goldfinch was the first variety to visit my feeders. This time of year these birds sport their drab winter coats.
My second bird species to arrive was a Dark-eyed, Slate-Colored Junco. They are one of my favorite birds.
At first, the Junco appeared to be having difficulty locating the perches, instead landing on the rain guard. When it started pecking at the snow, I wondered if it was thirsty or a first timer on the feeder.
Fortunately, the Junco found its way to a perch and shared the feeder with the Goldfinch.
In this extremely cold, snowy weather we’re having, there’s a lot of fluttering of wings going on at the feeders as the little birds vie for a spot to eat.
Fortunately, there’s enough room for all the birds, as they fight to stay alive in this brutal winter weather. I'm hoping that when I get some landscaping next spring and summer, my habitat will attract more varieties of birds.
Thursday, January 24, 2019
Thursday, January 17, 2019
The Audubon email hotline had been running rampant with a great variety of bird sightings. A Northern Mockingbird at Chums Corner. Hundreds of Waxwings on Deadstream Road. Tundra Swans at Logan’s Landing. Two Snowy Owls near the ballpark.
Word of the Snowy Owl sightings got me moving since I hadn’t seen one yet this winter. I almost immediately spotted the first owl on the corner of an outbuilding for one of the industrial park businesses. It was pretty distant to get a good close-up shot.
When I saw the owl on the roof of the warehouse, I wondered, why there? What was attraction? Then I drove on and saw the big field outside the fencing that would be perfect for hunting mice and voles, staples of the Snowy Owl diet.
I decided to drive to the other side of the building to get a closer look. I hoped the bird wouldn’t fly off in the time it took to get there. As I drew near, I could see the Snowy was a female, identified as such by the black bar markings. She was a beauty, I thought, as she squinted at me in the bright sunshine.
I drove on, hoping to see the second Snowy that had been sighted in the area that day. Fortunately, I saw it almost immediately, its distinctive white shape perched atop a light pole. It stood out against the brilliant blue sky. I can’t tell you how many Snowies I’ve photographed against dull, winter gray skies so the blue sky was a real treat.
I drew closer and could see this Snowy was smaller than the first one. It was beautiful! Mostly pure white with just a few dark markings, the sign that this bird was a male. This was the first time I’d photographed a male Snowy.
I noticed in the bright sunshine, the Snowy had its third, transparent eyelid down to protect its eyes from the bright sunlight. No piercing yellow eyes today!
I took another look at the female. I was able to get closer and it was keen on keeping an eye on me. It didn’t, however, give me a flash of its yellow eye, nor did it take to flight. There’ll be another time though. As always, Snowy Owls are magnificent creatures to see. And to photograph both a female and a male in one outing…well, it doesn't get much better than that.
Thursday, January 10, 2019
It was 24 degrees outside, and a stiff wind was blowing from the north. Seemed like the perfect time to see what was happening at the beach.
Mine was the only car at the deserted State Park Beach. Picnic tables were stacked on-end ready for warmer times.
The aquamarine waters of West Bay were dotted with waves and white caps. I was tempted to walk the beach with Gracie but decided against it as soon as I tried to open the car door against the force of the wind.
Over at Clinch Park, there were a few more people. I, along with another water-worshiper in the next car, watched the surf pound the breakwater.
A lone seagull was standing at the shoreline looking out. I wondered what it was doing since it didn’t appear to be an ideal place for fishing.
As the next wave brought in debris, I realized that the gull was picking through the surf to see what might be edible.
Not finding enough for a satisfactory meal, the gull took flight for deeper waters.
It landed farther out in the bay. I shivered at the thought of touching down in that cold water but hoped the gull found successful fishing.
The sight of the ice-cycles forming along the railing made me shiver again. It was time to head home and warm up by the fire.
Thursday, January 3, 2019
Yesterday, despite the snow and slippery roads, I got out and explored the countryside on the eastern side of town, where I'm now living. There were many beautiful scenes to photograph, but it was also easy to get lost without the Bay being visible to continually orient myself.