Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow day!

I guess it's been all over the news that the mid-west was walloped with quite a snowstorm over the past couple of days, so much that my work place was shut down yesterday at noon and all day today. Snow day! Seeing piles of snow everywhere, when I know I don't have to drive around in it, brings back a little of the excitement of my grade school days, knowing I could go out and play in the snow instead of having to go to school.

By early afternoon the snow had stopped coming down and I was sick of being cooped up inside, so I decided to walk down to the Constitution Trail and see what sort of birds were out.

The first thing I saw were mourning doves, looking sleepy and fluffed up as they huddled together on a branch. Sunwiggy recently e-mailed me that she hasn't seen any doves yet this year (apparently they migrate away from the Upper Peninsula during the winter -- I had not known that) so Sunwiggy, these doves are for you:

There were also some cardinals and robins in this area, and my Surprise Year Bird--a great blue heron flew overhead. I've seen them in the winter before where the water is open (last year I saw one at Arsenal Island in the Quad Cities area, another great place for eagle watching by the way), but I was not expecting to see one flying over my head, with its prehistoric-looking S-curve head and neck and long dangly legs sticking out behind.

Then the trudge through the snow. It did descend on us in quantity, that's for certain. The depth varied from very doable up to the tops of my feet to quickly tiring almost up to my knees, depending on how it had drifted.

I didn't expect to see tons of birds; my trip with binoculars and camera slung around my neck was basically an excuse to get myself outside. Besides, unscenic though it is, I'm getting quite attached to my scruffy little trail and the birds it contains. I always love to find nature co-existing with us, even in a city, and as always, the more I look, the more I find.

Except maybe today.... After the Surprise Heron, I just got the usual suspects, and not that many. There were still some open patches of water in Sugar Creek, which draws me in an almost atavistic way. I love open water in any form, especially moving.

It was also quite appealing to this flock of mallards:

I think the most plentiful bird in the area must be the Canada goose; in all seasons and all weathers they are here to be found, and today was no different. Quite a few flew overhead, probably heading for the Goose Convention I discovered on one of the (few remaining) open fields adjacent to the trail.

Just to ensure a bit more variety, I also found the Predictable Flock of Starlings (with some robins thrown in):

One of the robins was eating some rather dried up berries from a tree (note to self: find out what kind of tree--if anyone can tell from the picture, I'd love to know). I took about a bazillion shots of it, hoping to catch it in the act of stuffing its beak.

This was all very nice, but my muscles were announcing that they had trudged through the snow long enough, so I turned back, shuffling along the path I had made on the way out. It was good to get out and look at some birds, but whether from the cold or the effort or just the weirdness of the break in routine, I found myself in a generally dissatisfied state of mind, which I tried to combat when I got home by browsing other people's birding blogs. If you have some time, check out the links through the Nature Blog Network banner on the right--I just found them, and they have a great list of blogs on all sorts of nature topics.


  1. Thank you for the photos of the mourning doves! I still haven't seen the lone mourning dove that visits our feeders, only Dad has been priviliged to see it. If I had been with you, you would have heard "Year bird, year bird!" as I beheld each and every bird in your great photos! It's not so easy, is it, wading around in snow up to your knees? I suggested to Dad that he could pull me as I was seated on a sled. He said (mean thing!) that it would sink! Mom

  2. It is great that you found so many birds :) I spent a lot of yesterday digging my way out. That is the disadvantage to having a long driveway.

    We were 'let go' at 12:30 Tuesday, and State Farm was completely closed yesterday. Today I am working from home in the morning from my home office, and heading to work around noon. Unfortunately, I am going to have to do a bit more shoveling before that, to make a path for our mailman.