The first Friday of 2017 was marked by a two-hour delay for students and staff! The snowfall was light and blanketed the trail for a peaceful stroll, but it made road conditions icy on my way into school. Since we had a late start, the morning walk was opportune for photography! I love photographing birds in the snow. The more light you have, the easier it can be to photograph wildlife. With the morning sunshine reflecting off the snow, I had lots of light to work with to capture some good views of birds! Now if only they would come closer…
There were a few notable sightings from this morning’s walk. I observed a flock of Red-winged Blackbirds feeding high in the trees along the gas line cut. Oddly enough, the flock contained primarily female birds. Also, Dark-eyed Juncos were very active and feeding along the edges of the parking lot by the trailhead. I photographed quite a few individuals, one of which was browner in coloration compared to the usual slate black individuals seen in our area. Aside from that, everything else on the walk was expected. I was happy to have so many species in such a short amount of time, too!
I enjoyed photographing these two different Dark-eyed Juncos. The comparison of these two show great individual variation among Dark-eyed Juncos!
The only other note from this week includes three Ring-billed Gulls in a congretation of Canada Geese on the baseball fields out front of the school. I don’t usually observe Ring-billed Gulls associating with Canada Geese, and I also don’t usually observe Ring-billed Gulls on the grounds of BSES. They are usually observed flying over on their way to another destination. Ring-billed Gulls nest in colonies in spring across the northern United States and into Canada, but they spend their winters down in our area. People often associate gulls with beaches, but this species in particular is not exclusive to the beach. In fact, Ring-billed Gulls are easily observed in winter at parking lots, landfills, and lakes! One of my favorite places to observe Ring-billed Gulls is at the Walmart near my house. When you have a large congregation of Ring-billed Gulls, they can attract more usual gull species and sometimes even rare ones. That’s why it’s always worth stopping and scanning groups of Ring-billed Gulls, no matter what size, to make sure there’s nothing unusual among them. I even go to a nearby landfill to scan through thousands (yes, thousands) of Ring-billed Gulls in search of something unusual!
In summary, today was a productive bird walk and a great sign for tomorrow’s 4th Annual Christmas Bird Count!
Here’s the eBird list for the morning:
Bethel Springs E.S.--Nature Trail
Jan 6, 2017
All birds reported? Yes
Comments: Two hour delay made for a late start, but the fresh snowfall made the walk great for photography! Walked from the parking lot to outdoor classroom and back.
Submitted from eBird for iOS, version 1.4.1 Build 113
10 Canada Goose
2 Black Vulture
1 Turkey Vulture
1 Red-tailed Hawk
2 Downy Woodpecker
3 Blue Jay
3 American Crow
5 Carolina Chickadee
2 Tufted Titmouse
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
1 Carolina Wren
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
4 American Robin
16 Dark-eyed Junco
1 White-throated Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
5 Northern Cardinal
31 Red-winged Blackbird -- Flock seen in treetops on the south side of the gas line cut. The flock was predominantly female.
7 House Finch