Friday, January 19, 2018

19 January 2018 -- Brrr-ding

What a bizarre winter we have had so far. November was the hottest on record. Little to no snow in December. I have used my snow blower once. The snow pack in the hills is the lowest it has been since 1944.  The reservoirs are so low it is scary. So far in January we've had many days with highs in the low fifties. Today we hit 61, although it is accompanied by strong winds as a front rolls in with a chance of snow starting  tonight, but who knows if it will really hit? 

Normally, looking for birds in January is a cold proposition with many layers of clothes involved. While some days have been chilly because of the wind, if you can stand in the sun it's been pretty darned pleasant. 

For me, January means waterfowl. Ducks, geese and swans. It also means gulls. But since it has been unseasonably warm, the lakes are not freezing so the birds are not concentrated in small areas of open water.  It is odd not finding birds where you would expect...takes more looking. 

I have come to appreciate ducks. The variety of plumage, especially now with all the fresh breeding plumage makes them a pleasure to see. 

Wood Duck


Pair of Barrow's Goldeneye

Common Goldeneye


Northern Pintail


Hooded Merganser

And there are so many more. 

Geese. If you start scanning the huge numbers of Canada geese, often there are some surprises you can find hidden in the flocks. 

Snow Goose

Greater White-fronted Goose.  Considering he is only half the size of a Canada goose, it is interesting he is called a Greater. Above is an adult, below a juvenile. 

Cackling Goose. This is the little goose in front of the Canada. It looks like a miniature Canada.

Swans. So far this month I have seen Tundra, Trumpeter and Mute Swans.  Here are some Tundras:

Mute swans

Trumpeter in back, mute in front. A good look at the differences in the head and beak shapes.

All in all, you can see there is a lot to look out, even in January, when many people would not expect to see birds. 

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