Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Years Is For The Birds

Happy New Year..!

It wasn't in the cards for us to go out on NewYears Eve this year, so we stayed in, watched movies, and tried to stay up long enough to watch 'New Year's Rocking Eve' on tv. But laying there under a comforter, watching the movie 'Superbad', (which actually was pretty good), the passed few weeks of nonstop work and big changes finally creeped in and caught up with me. I rang in the new year snoring on the couch.

But all the excitement of a long night's sleep did bring about a New Year's morning fresh with energy and positive outlook. I opened the blinds to sparkling sunshine. Let's get out to the woods, who's coming..?..!

Kelly confusedly blinked her eyes open, and took me by surprise by yelling "What time is it?" She angrily scrambled to get herself together and rush out the door, apparently late for work. Whoops, I would have woken her up earlier if I had known. Sheesh. Who works on New Years..?

Chris was in the throes of battle with Carthaginians...

...and the dog was firmly anchored in his sunny spot.

Looks like it was solo for the afternoon. I bundled up and made for Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary, to ease into the new year, and hopefully check on some of the wilder types.

It was near bitter cold Thursday, and it would probably be 50/50 as far as wildlife viewing opportunities. The birds would either be hunkered down out of the cold, or, out feeding like mad. Luckily, it was the latter. The walk started behind the visitor center where there are usually some bird feeders. Sure enough, it was the spot to be on this chilling day. The usual suspects were all taking turns at the feeders or waiting their turn in the nearby trees and on the ground below, where the feeding was less competitive.




and Juncos were all in attendance. It didn't take them too long to get used to the funny human squinting into the beeping, clicking box.

That was easy. The surrounding woods were ringing with the calls of other, larger birds. Time to move on and find them...

There weren't too many people there Thursday afternoon, and the meadow didn't have any human tracks besides my own.

There were more human tracks on the surrounding trails however, represented by boot, snowshoe and cross-country ski.

And mixed in with them were abundant deer tracks, that were criss-crossing all over the sanctuary.

Camera in hand, I attempted to follow some of these deer tracks into the thickets, hoping to get a look at a doe or at least it's sleeping quarters. It's amazing how well they can maneuver through the brush. Several times I had to crawl under seemingly impenetrable tangles and carefully pluck thorny stems off of my sleeves.

But the tracks led on into still thicker and thicker brush. Scrambling over and under, with whip like branches battering my cold face and shaking icy snow down my back, it became apparent there was no getting all the way to the deer's lair. You win this time, Bambi.

Back to the birds. Returning to the meadow, the brush, thicket and small trees along the edges were teeming with finches, sparrows and robins.

The cold was having little effect on their activity at this time of day; they were apparently taking advantage of whatever little heat the sun could provide in the short hours of afternoon.

There were three more types of birds I was hoping to get pictures of before freezing; the bluejays, cardinals, and any of the several types of woodpeckers I've seen here before. The Jays were easy enough to find, as they called out their warnings to the rest of the wood's inhabitants about the shivering human trying to move stealthily below, but crunching snow and breaking twigs like a wounded bear.

The bluejays are some of the coolest looking local birds. I read somewhere that their feathers aren't actually blue, they just refract light in the blue spectrum to appear so. This guy tattled on me, and took flight...

But for winter birds, the most colorful and coolest looking must be the cardinal. Their bright red shows up so strikingly against wintry backgrounds...

The colors of the females, though less red, still seem to almost glow from within.

That was two of the final three. Still no woodpeckers to be seen. The sun was getting low, and now the real cold was beginning to settle in. Time to start moving back toward the parking area.

But wait, at last there was a primeval caw in the distance, followed by the steady drum roll of bill thumping against tree. Woodpecker...and it was coming from the vicinity of the visitor center. I picked up the pace and homed in on the sounds. It was right near the feeders behind the visitor center...I searched above, tree to tree, limb to limb...

Aaah! At last, there it is...Steady...zoom in...Click..!

Got it!......Oof, that came out awful. Thwarted by bad exposure settings again...Speaking of exposure, it was time to head back, and thaw out my toes...


VanDog said...

Wow! What a cold day to go out with a camera. Great photos Tony!

Fishing413 said...

Great post! I live unbelievably close and have never been. I am going to have to check it out very soon!

Tony said...

Fishing, definitely check it out. Good luck with your new site, btw...

Fishing413 said...

Will do and thank you!