Saturday, February 17, 2007

Another day in the snow

We received another two inches of snow today so Steve and I decided we needed to go do some birding at the OSU Wetlands Park. First, though, we went to Wild Birds Unlimited to restock on thistle and oil sunflower seed. I also purchased an excellent binocular for my fieldwork - a real splurge in the form of Swarovski's 8 X 32. Wow, what a difference! It's like looking at the world with telephoto eyes. Steve snapped this picture of me checking him out with my new binocular.

We've had such a long cold snap that most of the water around here is frozen over, including the billabong. I've posted a lot of pictures from this area over the past year and you can browse through my archive to look for pictures of the Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Green Herons, shorebirds, and various other birds. This is one of our favorite places to look for birds. Today, however, the walk was pretty rough going - the paths weren't cleared in the wetlands area. The bike path had been previously plowed, but today's snow hadn't yet been cleared.

The snow does look nice on all of the tree limbs, though.

I especially like the contrasts the snow and branches make in the tangled undergrowth.

This is the bridge on the bike path near Dodridge road. Steve's checking out the large population of Canada Geese - about 200 of them hanging out in a clear spot in the river.

About 200 geese, fewer than a dozen Mallards, about 50 Ring Billed Gulls, and a Great Blue Heron.

It's pretty crowed in the free flowing water.

They're not looking too happy, but at least they have access to water and the good things to eat in the river. The poor robins in our area are suffering greatly - many of them are dying because the ground is frozen and they can't get to their worms and such.

I saw a lot of squirrels digging in the snow to look for their buried caches. Most of the squirrels look fat and healthy, so they must be successful at finding their stored food. The ones in our yard are fattening up on bird seed.

At the other bridge, north of the wetlands park, the open water is even smaller in area. Ring billed gulls dominated this open patch of water.

The river sure looks different when it's iced over.

Yep - it's definitely cold out here. That's the other side of the bridge, looking upstream.

This gull caught a small fish and was being chased by a couple of other ones trying to steal it. Steve took a nice photo of the chase.

They sure look cold out there. Notice that the ones standing in snow are standing on one leg? They must alternate feet every few minutes or something.

This Great Blue Heron was flying up kind of high, so it's not a great picture. My favorite picture of a flying GBH is the one I took at the Florida woodturning symposium about a month ago.

The pictures I took of Ring-billed gulls in flight turned out pretty well, though. I like the shades of gray from the ice in this one.

I was standing on the bridge shooting pics with my 300 mm zoom lens. I tracked the birds and shot a series of photos at a high shutter speed.

I'm always amazed at how well my camera captures the images of birds in motion. I use a Canon Rebel-XT.

A juvenile Ring-billed gull standing in the water.

One of the adults warming its feet in the water. I never realized that these gulls have a red ring around a yellow eye.

After we came home I was looking for our backyard birds through the kitchen window. I couldn't find any, which was strange since we had been counting dozens of cardinals, sparrows, finches, and the like earlier in the day. Then I noticed this Coopers Hawk up in the tree, which explained why our backyard birds were absent. I called Steve to come look and he went out to get some good photos while I watched it through my new binocs. By the time Steve finished and I went outside to shoot some pics, the hawk had moved and turned its back to me. So, my pics aren't all that nice, but you can see Steve's pic by clicking here.

This isn't quite an AHV, but nearly so. I've been mooned by a Coopers Hawk.

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