Sunday, December 13, 2009

Weekend Birds

I've gotten some serious birding time in this weekend. Yesterday I hit the Cliff Walk with the intention of seeing if I could find any Harlequins and Goldeneyes. No luck there,but I did see a group of about a dozen Greater Scaup equally divided between male and female. Below is a decent shot of one of the drakes.

Today was the last Sunday bird walk of the year; we'll take the holidays off and start up again on January 10. Today we went up to Sisson and St. Mary's Ponds, a great place for birding. On Sisson Pond we actually saw 5 Great Blue Herons along with the usual Canada Geese. Both ponds were frozen, so there weren't many waterfowl hanging around, although we did see a great many Common Mergansers and Ruddy Ducks flying by overhead. The fields surrounding the ponds were a treasure trove, though. Today we saw: 3 Red-tailed, 1 Cooper's, 1 Sharp-shinned, and 1 Northern Harrier hawks; some fairly large flocks of House finches with some Goldfinches hanging out with them; a large flock of Mourning Doves in the trees; surprisingly, 2 or 3 Marsh Wrens; and Sparrows - Tree, Swamp, Savannah, House, and glory hallelujah, a Vesper Sparrow who I managed to get a decent shot of.

After the bird walk I ended up down at Ballard Park and Gooseneck Cove, where I got shots of a Black-capped Chickadee and some Mallards. I was beginning to think the Mallards had abandoned Gooseneck Cove because of the higher salinity brought by the restoration project. Today there were about 2 dozen, which was good but still far below their usual numbers, and all on the backwater to the east of Hazard Rd. where the salt content is lower. I stil think I'm going to have to go elsewhere if I want to see crowds of Mallards.

Below we have the Vesper Sparrow near Sisson Pond (left), and the Black-capped Chickadee in Ballard Park (right).

And some Mallards, a drake and two hens, on Gooseneck Cove.

© 2009 by A. Roy Hilbinger


  1. I keep thinking that I live in the most amazing area due to the vast array of bird species that we get to enjoy (through a window, of course), and then you come through with this! Beautiful!

  2. Roy! Do you know how long I've been trying to get a Vesper Sparrow? Wonderful capture, and your chickadee is so sweet...with a name like Gooseneck Cove, no wonder you can get such nice birds!

  3. Ina - Heh, heh! You're one of the last people I expected to see commenting on this one. But you're right, there's a lot of diversity here.

    Kelly - That Vesper Sparrow shot was on a wing and a prayer! I got about 6 shots altogether as it hopped around in the tree, each one with different shutter speeds to try to get the details on a bird that was (a) in some shadow on a bright, contrasty morning and (b) being shot through a telephoto lens that really doesn't like those lighting conditions. As it is I think the background is uncomfortably bright, but I managed to get the eye ring and a peek at the two-tone beak, so I'm happy!

  4. Great shots I think I am having some lens envy!

  5. if i go to WalMart i can see the gulls scamming garbage. And we're about 100 miles from the great lakes. Other than that, we're fairly birded out.

    Nice pics!