Thursday, January 27, 2011

More snow......

Today I went to another walk after another snow.  The park got about another foot of snow.  I have not gotten noticeably better at either half-walking-half-skiing down snow-pack steps or at walking with the camera in my hand.  Ah well, to the pond!

The day after a snowfall is just gorgeous, it really looked like a winter wonderland today.  :-)

The wood ducks were happy to pose for me.  The mallard seemed a little confused.  Was he seeing double?  Or did he want to be the star of the picture?  It's hard to tell what a duck is thinking......

Walking up from the pond along the road, I saw someone else taking a picture of this tree and agreed that it was worthy.

Walking up the mall, disappointed I hadn't seen the hawk by the pond, this guy came by to cheer me up!  Yep, he landed right on the snow.  He seemed to be looking for something.  I didn't see anything, maybe he had seen a squirrel surface there?  I don't think he brought anything with him, but it's hard to tell.

After a few minutes he had to go.

Right over to this tree!  He didn't stay long, he flew up towards the fountain.  Landed.  Then flew over towards the east side, staying south of the fountain.  It was so great to see him flying so low over the snow!

At the fountain, I spotted a falcon flying.  Yes, I'm finally starting to be able to tell a falcon from a pigeon in flight.....  Hahahaha, that sounds ridiculous but it's true!  Anyway, it turns out he wasn't out for a pleasure cruise - he needed to chase away the black vulture!

It was my first time seeing a black vulture in the park, and apparently the falcon didn't like it one little bit.

Up the the varied thrush station, where my patience was rewarded with seeing everyone's favorite vagrant.  I wonder if they are common anywhere, like robins are here.  And if a robin went there it would be a big deal.  So funny how the desirability of seeing a bird changes based on where you are.  In Cayman the mockingbirds were annoying.  And in Costa Rica the black vultures where literally everywhere.

Anyway, the camera battery just about gave out and I headed back home along the park road.  I saw this hawk who was either sitting very awkwardly or doing some sort of hawk yoga, I'm not sure which.........

A pretty day, but........ that's really enough snow for a while......

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A very cold, mostly hawkless day in the park

Today Jack and I braved the freezing temperatures with the help of lots of layers and Toasty Toes - to the park!  The wood ducks were posing in the sun.

Further evidence that there are 2 wood duck drakes at the Pond.

One was sleepy.

Checking the time, post-nap.
We headed up to the fountain, and then the boathouse.  No hawks!  Well, I sort of caught sight of one, maybe, flying away.  It was too low and obscured for Jack to see.  It's iffy at best.We headed over to the maintenance shed to see if the thrush was there - nope.  The fox sparrow was.  We decided to keep moving. To the feeders!

There was only a little activity at the feeders, we sat down for a few minutes and the action picked up.  We saw a red-breasted nuthatch, but its visit was very brief, so.... no pictures.

This brown creeper cheered us up!

Juncos in the snow

The tufted titmouse is currently being served.  The junco is next. There is also a chickadee in line!

White-breasted nuthatch showing off its bill.

Red bellied woodpecker trying to figure out how to manage the suet.  Hilarious!  Like a cat with peanut butter, in bird form.

This goldfinch looks like its beak is chipped.  It looks like it's sneering!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Varied Thrush! Yay! With bonuses. :-)

Today I headed to the park, taking what is becoming my usual route - around the pond, up the park road to the fountain, through the ramble, to the upper lobe, and home along the park road.  It was a nice couple of hours, and I saw a lot!

This hawk was in Hallett, watching for an opportunity to dine.  When I was on the bridge he flew right over me!

Wood duck on the snow.  Show-off!

This hawk was by the boathouse.  I followed him through a couple of flights before finally getting a picture. 

And he's off again, hopefully to find some lunch!

This red-bellied woodpecker (at the feeders) was shameless, posing for quite some time.

The varied thrush!  It does exist!  My first time seeing it.  :-)

I saw it in the little area to the right of the restrooms by the maintenance shed, just like everyone said.

Also there, my second wren of the day (and winter) - this gorgeous Carolina wren.

Watching like a ..... well, you know.

Even the towhee seemed happy to be in pictures!

I can't even see the bird's head until I click through to the large version.  Great camo!

The fox sparrow telling a white-throat trying to horn in - Get Lost!

I'm a sucker for a bird with a berry.  :-)

Monday, January 10, 2011

To the Reservoir, and Beyond!

Today I decided to go up to the reservoir, hoping there would be some different types of ducks there.  Ha!

Well, just after entering the park this yellow bellied sap sucker came over and posed for me.  Isn't he gorgeous?

Then a few blue jays were foraging on the snow, and moving just barely slowly enough to allow a picture!  It's like they were welcoming me to a bird-filled winter wonderland.

And it was quite wintry - the reservoir was almost totally frozen over, and there were no ducks at all, just gulls! Well, to be fair, one crow came over and sat on the edge of the ice.  Was it a fish crow?  I have no idea.  The pictures are not great because it was so far away, and I didn't think it was special enough to backtrack for.  So it's just a mystery crow that was on the ice.  And i did see a nice pair of hawks circling above and by the buildings on the east side, which was great!

In the trees along the reservoir path there were pockets of activity with sparrows (mostly white-throat with a couple of song), tufted titmouses, and the occasional white-breasted nuthatch.

Going over to the pinetum I saw several robins, they looked quite pretty.  Their colors are so rich now, not as bright as in the summer, but quite elegant.  Once in the pinetum I saw a flicker and this red bellied woodpecker, but no owls.  Hey, gotta check, right?  :-)

Another tufted titmouse making sure I got the full impact of its tuft.  :-)

Down to the castle without getting lost (I think that's a first!) where I looked around but didn't see anything except a hawk circling briefly and some very lovely scenery.  The turtle pond is just completely frozen and covered, with just a few squirrel tracks.  Over to the maintenance shed, to check for the varied thrush.

As I was looking around another birder came over, we both wanted to see the thrush but it didn't happen. We did see this handsome flicker.  It looks like it has an extremely fancy throat, but that's just a twig that is lined up in exactly the right place.  :-)  Anyway the birder guy was more determined than I was, and I started to wander off, but I heard some really unusual sounds that I couldn't identify.  It sounded like..... well, like a kid mimicking a turkey gobble, but clearly not a kid, and animal, but clearly not a turkey gobbling.  I don't know what it was.

I came back and tried to see what was making those noises but couldn't find it. Then in swooped this hawk, grabbed a squirrel in a hole in the tree, but couldn't pull the squirrell out!  In this picture, the hawk has let go of the squirrel and landed ona  slightly lower branch and is looking at the hole.  The squirrel has moved around to my side of the tree, at the same level as the hole, and is feeling extremely lucky!

The hawk looks pissed.  But not for long, because.......

This other hawk swooped in and chased it off!  Hahahahahahaha, it's multi-hawk drama!  This hawk is smaller but maybe the green band gives it super-powers.  The hawks hung around for a few minutes, moving off a little bit, and then flew off one by one.  So far, I've been to check for the thrush 4 times, and 2 of those times, I've seen hawks!  And I still haven't seen the thrush.....  Oh well.

Heading through the ramble, I saw a quite cute chickadee playing hide and seek with my camera at azalea pond.  It won.  But the feeders made up for that, with this little guy!

Also at the feeders were a bunch of goldfinches, on or near their favorite feeder.

They apparently stick some gunk on a tree trunk and the woodpeckers love it!  First this downy came over to partake.

Then this red-belly chased her off quite unceremoniously, and took quite a hunk.

This white breasted nuthatch looked like it couldn't decide whether it wanted to pose or just flit about as usual.  Someday I'll get a good white breasted nuthatch picture!

After going in an accidental circle (I guess the snow threw me) I managed to get to the upper lobe bridge and see another gorgeous yellow-bellied sap sucker.  Are they really more vivid now, or was I just not good at seeing them last year?  And in the summer, was I seeing mostly juveniles?  I don't really quite understand what the difference is, but they look so gorgeous and vivid now.

I walked along the park road, and past sheep's meadow decided to try to see the red-headed woodpecker again.  I mean, I had 4 types of woodpeckers which normally would be a full house for the park, but since this guy is here, I decided to see if I could end up with five for five.  Alas, it was not to be.  I didn't hang out, really, I just walked through and kept on.  I headed for the 7th Ave exit and on the park road really close to 7th Ave saw another hawk!  I think this is the same guy I've been seeing at the pond.  Its chest is weird.

What a wonderful wintry walk!  :-)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The woodpecker at last!

Jack and I went walking today, starting at the pond and working our way up.  At the pond we saw a hawk perched across the way in Hallett, but didn't get a good view or good picture because it was so far away.  I guess that one is making that its home now, which is great news for us!

Continuing around, we saw the wood duck with the mallards near the bridge, where there is still some open water.

Oh, wait - I meant the two wood ducks!

Going up towards the chess house we saw this hawk, a much better view with much better light this time!

Then on the path below sheep's meadow we got a great view of this juvenlile red-headed woodpecker everyone's been so excited about.

It was cool to watch him for a while.  :-)

From there, we went up to the fountain and around the south side of the lake to the park road, then down the middle by the volleyball courts and home.  We saw some titmouses and chickadees but no pictures..... It was a nice walk even though it was quite cold!