Saturday, January 17, 2009

Is It Cold Out, Or Are My Toe's Supposed To Be This Numb?

When I got in the car this morning, the Volvo said it was 7 degrees. Awesome! Even this AMERICAN WIGEON thought it was too cold to stay in that water.How cold was it? Well, I'll tell you. It was SOOO cold that typically inland waterfowl like this HOODED MERGANSER were out and about on the the only unfrozen water around, the Chesapeake Bay. In this case, I caught this HOODIE hanging out with the likes of a LONG-TAILED DUCK. I thought they looked a bit odd together, so I had them pose for a frosty photo.

I wonder what they had to say to each other?One of the LONG-TAILED DUCKS was kind enough to get close to my camera. They certainly are one of the more dapper looking ducks out there on the frigid bay waters.The REDHEADS were out in force. We counted eight off of Bay Ridge and at least two more off of Thomas Point State Park. Look at these drakes... who'd wanna mess with them? Nothing but trouble...The water temperature was so much warmer than the air, it made the Bay Bridge appear as it it was floating above the water line. They call that effect 'heat haze', but my numb toes referred to it as something entirely different!Back at the ranch, the PINE SISKINS were on my feeder yet again this morning. Such a treat to walk out in the single-digit temperatures and hear them zipping away in the back yard.Earlier in the week a RED-SHOULDERED HAWK dropped by my home to hunt some of our local feeder birds. Judging by this photo, the bird's belly (also known as it's crop) looked empty.Yet again today at Greenbury Point, Chris Murray and I spotted this RED-SHOULDERED HAWK. However, this paler-looking bird had a slightly more well-fed look about it. I always feel better knowing all the birds are eating properly.Later, we ran into some WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS just inside the mulching facility at Greenbury Point. This area of tall grasses, mulch, wood piles and shrubs is laden with birds. We had SWAMP, WHITE-THROATED, WHITE-CROWNED, SONG, FIELD SPARROWS and DARK-EYED JUNCOS all in one little area. I've heard the rumors that this area will soon be replaced with sterile artificial turf and parking lots, but I hope that those plans never come to fruition.In order to tell the rest of today's birding story, I need to back up a bit.

Chris and I were busy scanning the slush for rare birds that might have come down the Bay because of the recent cold snap. There we were at Bay Ridge's Tolley Point, when all of the sudden, who do we run into but the famous BIRD COUPLE, Warren & Lisa Strobel. It's always a fantastic time when birding with these two love birds. I do have a suggestion for their next blog: Warren and Lisa, you two should write a little something about dressing properly for the bitter cold. I had three layers on and was frozen. Warren? A pair of jeans. Lisa, a darling pair of shorts and a tank top. No no no, I'm only kidding. Lisa wore a simple, yet elegant black evening gown.After serendipitously meeting at Bay Ridge, all four of us decided to venture a bit further South on this fantastic Anne Arundel County peninsula to Thomas Point State Park. There we ran into Gerald Winegrad, ex-State Senator, environmentalist, birder and Anne Arundel Bird Club member. He will be leading a trip tomorrow to this area in search of waterfowl, so we caught him doing some scouting. You can never be too prepared, right? Gerald told us that there is no such thing as 'bad' weather, just one's 'bad' choice of clothing.Anyway, I decided to check the old iPhone while we were at Thomas Point. An email arrived that brought with it some great news: our Annapolis PAINTED BUNTING had returned. Last year, the bird appeared on my birthday, December 18th. It was only fitting that this winter, the bird reappear on my Dad's birthday, January 17th. During all of my many observations of this bird, I've never seen PABU look quite so large. He was puffed up huge trying to keep warm. We said hello rather quickly to our good friend and then left so it could return to feeding, puffing up, surviving and enjoying it's frigid winter Annapolis home.Lest I forget... there was a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER that greeted us upon our arrival to PABU's place! When I went to scout the 'other' location that PABU has been known to frequent last week, a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER was present for both visits. Weird, eh?

Good Birding and Go Ravens,



dAwN said...

Brrrrr...well worth the freezing toes and fingers to see all those birdies...
that painted bunting better high tail it down here...

Warren and Lisa Strobel said...

Next time I plan to select my Under Armour evening gown with the flannel fringe....

What fun running into you and Chris and thanks for hooking us up with Mr. PABU.

Hugs to Emery + 1 and Declan!

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