Saturday, December 22, 2012

Glowing Clouds, Winter Ducks

Often the key to finding birds in winter is to look for them in places that offer resources they need -food and water - without being too exposed to predators or adverse weather. Image copyright Danuiel E. Levenson 2012.
With the wind sweeping open a few spots in an otherwise cloudy sky and the sun tinting the remaining clouds a glowing array of pink, blue and gray, today was a wonderful day to be outside. Yes, it was cold, yes it was a bit windy, but otherwise very nice. Around mid-day I found myself at Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary in Natick, Massachusetts, one of my regular birding spots and a favorite place in general to wander through woods, wetlands and fields.  The diversity of habitat in the sanctuary is a boon not just for birders, but anyone who might like to catch a glimpse of a deer, beaver or other wildlife.

In winter the setting sun paints the clouds in glowing tones of pink, yellow, blue and purple. Image copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2012.

In my search for birds today I found myself relying more on my own experience than on obvious external signs of avian life - scanning the tree tops looking for mixed foraging flocks of Chickadees, peering into quiet corners of the pond for the tell-tale ripples sent out by dabbling ducks, pausing beside brush piles to see if any sparrows were about. Which is not to say the woods were entirely quiet - there was occasional birdsong, and the maniacal chatter of both red and white-breasted nuthatches led me to at least two groups that contained two nice surprises: a Golden-crowned Kinglet and my very first Brown Creeper in Massachusetts (and only my second life sighting). Besides the few birds who did make their presence known through song there was also the occasional rush of the wind through the tops of towering pine trees and the unnerving creaking of dead trees rubbing against one another.

Another delightful discovery was a small group of American Wigeon feeding near a much larger group of Mallards. This was a new life bird for me, bringing my lift list to 194 and my year list (including New York and Connecticut) to 89. With the end of the year a little more than a week away I'm still hoping to crack 90, but we'll see.

On my way home I decided to stop at a local park where I often see a Red-tailed Hawk or two and where a group of Green-winged Teal have been hanging out for the last few weeks. On both counts I was successful, observing a Red-tailed Hawk perched high atop a building nearby and the group of teal were still present, actively feeding in a small pond. Among them was another bird which has been here for a while now, a solitary male Eurasian Teal. I still don't know where this stands in terms of being a separate species or subtype, but however it is classified this male was clearly quite different from the other males, with an easily visible white  horizontal stripe  running along the side of his body. I was also keeping en eye out today for  Crossbills and Grosbeak of various species, which have been reported  in the e-bird rarity alerts for Massachusetts as well as in the bird sightings section of the Mass Audubon website. Perhaps I will have better luck next time.

Copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2012.

No comments:

Post a Comment