Sunday, March 04, 2007

Birding in the cold

This weekend was very, very busy - mostly music things for various rehearsals, performances, and lessons. Steve and I squeezed in a four-hour birding session today - all in the freezing cold, snow and wind. Dedication, or craziness - you make the call. All I can say is that my fingers and nose were way too cold today! We did see some interesting birds, though, so I suppose it was worth it. Sightings today included: hooded merganser, red-breasted merganser (new for both of us), domestic geese, lesser scaup, ring-neck ducks, redhead duck, common goldeneye, bufflehead, mallards, canada goose, northern pintail (new for Steve), American black duck, American Kestrel (new for Steve), wood ducks, and some common local birds.

These domestic geese look a lot like snow geese and white-fronted geese, but the grin patch of the snow goose isn't apparent in these birds, nor do they have the black wing tips.

You can see some of the intermediate morphs that look like hybrids to me.

We went to Greenlawn dam next and saw that the river was up so high that the dam was just about underwater. These are racoon prints, spotted below the Greenlawn bridge. These are right front and back prints.

Next stop was Pickerington Ponds Metro park. There were a lot of ducks and geese here, but they were so far away we couldn't really get a good look at them. When I took a look at some of my digital photos I notice a pair of Northern Pintail ducks standing on the ice behind a bunch of redhead ducks.

This is a lesser scaup spotted from one of the viewing blinds.

Male and female ringneck ducks spotted from the same blind.

Next on our itinerary was a stop at the Hoover reservoir dam - just below the Sunbury spillway. The water was flowing pretty heavily over the dam, so the water was really high just below. We couldn't get down to the edge so we walked down a ways to where the river could be safely viewed. On the way down, one of the local fishermen pointed out some beaver signs. This tree has been pretty heavily gnawed.

This one, too.

Here's the additional proof of beavers at work - a pretty robust beaver dam. We'll have to come back later in the year to look for the beavers swimming in the water.

Speaking of fishing, we saw six great blue herons working the water below the dam.

The humans were doing pretty well, too.

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