Friday, January 4, 2013 Snow Buntings and Yard Birds

Seward Sporadic Bird Report

Finally! The slanting sleet stopped! Today was calm and foggy, very mysterious and alluring. The birds seemed to be everywhere, eating and calling, no doubt even more happy than I for the respite.

I set my camera ISO to a ridiculous setting of 3500 as an experiment and was quite amazed to be able to capture birds in flight in the dim light.

At the beach, about 40-50 SNOW BUNTINGS flew back and forth, landing briefly to eat gravel, then shot off again. BUFFLEHEADS dove. Two adult and one juvenile BALD EAGLE perched on stumps, waiting for opportunity to knock.  Two RAVENS showed off their aerial acrobatics, tucking one wing to flip, then fly in synchrony, all at top speed.

I followed the webbed footprints of a herd of dabbling ducks, probably MALLARDS or GADWALL, up the bank and into the snow where they walked around, leaving an interesting pattern of tracks accented by green, plant-based poop.
I have never seen dabblers poop like geese, but it must be an equally quick turn-around!

A DIPPER sat forlornly on the snow above an opening in a salmon stream. I hope he found something good to eat!

Back home, I enjoyed an amazing yard bird show from 2:40 to 3 pm as the birds fueled up for the long night. A male DOWNY WOODPECKER "peeked" and tapped away on an old willow truck festooned with red jelly fungus and green lichens.

A large flock of melodious PINE GROSBEAKS plucked ice-festooned Mt Ash berries and worked them around in their beaks, spitting out the pulp. Several DARK-EYED JUNCOS joined them, also enjoying the frozen fruits. A busy SONG SPARROW (where were you for the CBC?) hopped up on a branch and then explored the deck, with a comment or two before flying off.

Seven ROBINS sat in another Mt Ash tree, preening. I even heard one robin sing its sweet spring song, "cheer up, cheerio!"  A flock of about 40 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS churred overhead and landed at the top of a spruce before descending like a cloud into the Mt Ash berry feast. What a magnet for birds!

BLACK-BILLED MAGPIES complained and RAVENS croaked at the juvenile BALD EAGLE sitting on a branch, hanging its wings out to dry. Two adult eagles circled overhead; one landed briefly in my spruce.

Tiny CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEES found a suet feeder that had fallen during the recent windstorm, and pecked away at the remaining fats. COMMON REDPOLLS and PINE SISKINS chattered overhead in small mixed flocks, then landed to glean tidbits from the now exposed grass under the spruce trees. The ever-present STELLER'S JAYS flew back and forth, hauling peanuts to new hiding places in the dead leaves.

Despite the foggy, gray skies, it was a marvelous, birdy, January day!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

1 comment:

  1. Splendid photos! Your posts and photos are a delight to read and to see. I've not tried to photograph in this overcast, rainy 'shades of grey' weather—well done, Carol.