Sunday, February 8, 2009

From Sunup to Sundown, Always Birding

Waking up Sunday, brought a sigh of relief, as I stared out my window at a beautiful sunrise. I was grateful that the day would be sunny, rather then what it was like Friday, all icy and cloudy, and RAINY!!

Looking out the living room window, I discovered I live in Nepal, at the base of Mt. Everest! Fascinating!! Excuse me a minute, while I go look at some Guldenstadt's Redstarts, and Siberian Accentors!
Mt. Everest, I wish!
Walking by the spooky fog in the forest along my driveway, I headed for my local/secret patch, or called my neighbors yard. I was hoping to find some more birds, then I did Friday. Arriving, I ran into a flock of Pine Grosbeaks! That is cool no matter how often you see them! Luckily I saw the only sparrow in the whole area, a Song Sparrow. I managed to get a few semi-good shots as I chased it around and around the old garage.

This House Sparrow, though not a sparrow at all, but a weaver finch, was cooperative in letting me take a few shots of him.

After the fun I had at my neighbors, my granddad and I went into town to photograph, you guessed it, Pine Grosbeaks, and Waxwings. Our first stop help nothing but multiple American Robins. They seem to be increasing in numbers, as a few filter in from the south. This flock had about 15 birds, but the flock I saw Thursday, at the same spot, held more then 40 birds!

Just a short walk from the robins, was a little flock of Pine Grosbeaks, and like always, they offered some great photo opts.

This bird (above) looks like a first year male, in advanced molt, because it is the right color, but just on its head, and not breast.

On to the next location. Here, we found more Pine Grosbeaks, but none offered great photo opts, so I resorted to chasing White-winged Crossbills (the first seen of the day) into peoples yards. White-winged Crossbills have been decreasing in numbers, as our invasion wears off, so I felt honored and lucky to see and photograph an adult male.

This poor Sharp-shinned Hawk was right in the other side of the street from the Crossbills, and sadly enough was killed that morning, only a few hours earlier. It appears to have been shot, or hit by a car, and the hole in its side was made by magpies and not a projectile, or car. I assume it was killed by some kids or old person, who felt they must protect the flocks of waxwings that were feeding nearby. Vigilante justice isn't always the best.

We ran acrossed a small flock of waxwings, and in fact that was the bulk of the waxwings we saw! The rest 1,000+ must have moved on to greener pastures.

After the wonder through Columbia Falls, we headed over to the site where the road service dumps roadkills, mainly deer and elk. At this secret place, there are maybe 50 crows and ravens, and 7-10 Bald Eagles. It is a suckish place to photograph the birds, because they are so skiddish, so you spook them all, and hope one flies right by you in the sun. I capture this picture of a Common Raven as it flaired and went the other way.

This picture is looking down my driveway

I decided to do a little Bigbying after I got back from birding in town. I grabbed my bike and rode down to the old bridge that is now decommissioned, that crossed the Flathead River. Down by the bank, I found a great little spot for birds, to bad it has no winter birds, but it looks AMAZING for spring migration and breeders! I trompted around down by the river, until I realized that I might of been on private property! It is some beautiful country down by the river.

Leaving, after seening like NO birds, I headed home, and on my way out, along the little dead end road, I ran into a couple Black-capped Chickadees which gave semi-open photo opts. Just beyond that, someone planted bunch if apple trees, and eating those apples, was many Cedar Waxwings and a few American Robins. It looked like a good yard to be search in for Varied Thrush in a month or sooner.

I got home, and found this beauty in my Grandpa's ash tree. A single Townsend's Solitare. The first time I had the chance to photograph one. Then, a dozen Pine Grosbeaks flew in and started chowing down on my grandparents apples. I had to snap a few shots, and post then to prove it. It was getting dark, so the record shot had to be lightened a bit.

Have fun birding!!

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