Monday, February 16, 2009

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl
Originally uploaded by Captain_Peleg
What a day! Three bald eagles, two snowy owls, great cormorants, clear blue skies ...

Great cormorants were everywhere along the Merrimack along with red breasted mergansers and common mergansers. Every place I stopped to look had lots of bird action going on. Diving ducks and great cormorants were diving. Herring gulls, ring-billed gulls, and great black backs were hitching rides on ice floes. A red-tailed hawk flew by with a vole hanging from its beak. At one stop I even had tufted titmice, black capped chickadees and northern cardinals flitting around in the bushes like crazy -- and that wasn't a birding stop but the gas station.

At the Chain Bridge I hung out watching the ice floes flow back upriver as the tide came in while I kept an eye out for bald eagles. I was finally rewarded with one immature eagle flying around for a few minutes before perching in a tree. As I was heading back to my car I passed a guy who had located two adults perched in a tree across the river. Got the binoculars on 'em right away. Cool, a three bald eagle day. I figured this was the highlight of the day and I hadn't even made it to the refuge yet.

Then, at the refuge, I saw a snowy owl perched on a hay staddle in the salt marsh. Plum Island winter motif #1. This is what people imagine when they think of winter birding at Plum Island. Another highlight.


More gulls riding ice floes at Joppa Flats. Lots of 'em. Had to take some pictures. Then it was on to Salisbury Beach campground in hopes of white-winged crossbills or Lapland longspurs or who knows what.


There perched in a pitch pine in the middle of a campsite was a magnificent snowy owl. And it had an audience. Tons of people with cameras and digiscoping setups surrounded it. It had been perched on a picnic table and then flew up to the tree. I stayed there watching it and taking pictures until sunset. I guess my second snowy owl of the day was the highlight.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

spring fever

Folks are reporting redwinged blackbirds all over the area but I haven't heard one yet. I'm on the alert. Meanwhile, the chickadees have switched to their spring fe-be call big time. Not sure whether the dark-eyed juncos have left yet. I haven't seen them in a couple of days. I can see bare ground in my tiny yard. Soon it will be time to re-commence my battle with the invasive plants.

The annual Merrimack River Eagle Festival is today. Now that's a cool thing to do for Valentine's Day! Speaking of bald eagles, I was rummaging in my kitchen cabinet for a coffee mug a couple of weeks ago and came across a Mass Audubon one from 30 years ago that said "Bring Back the Bald Eagle". I guess it worked!

I think I'm starting to emerge from hibernation. It must be spring.

Monday, February 9, 2009

spring is just around the corner

There was a tufted titmouse perched in the Russian Parking Space Blockers' tree (as opposed to my own illegal tree) in the morning. The condo association may frown on unit owners' trees but hey, until that tree matured I never had a tufted titmouse that close to my kitchen window.

We had this 52 degree warm spell yesterday and I can actually see a small patch of bare ground in my back yard. That must mean spring is coming.

Other signs that spring is out there somewhere on the horizon:
OK, that last one's not really a sign of spring unless baseball players are involved :-) but the fact that I could find three items of interest about piping plovers in the news surely is such a sign.