Monday, December 6, 2010

Winter Visitors

Female Hairy Woodpecker

I hadn't had any decent bird adventures for quite some time, but since we've had snow, things seem to be getting busy! I had a great sighting today, but unfortunately no pictures to share. Just a binocular's view away, across the bay, a fairly large dark bird was flying around and caught my eye. When it landed in a snowy pine tree, I immediately got my binoculars out, and searched the branches until I found it. It was difficult to decipher what it was. For awhile, I thought it might be an owl, wishful thinking I'm sure. After staring at it til my eyes were buggy, and searching in one of my favorite bird books (Stokes Field Guide to Birds - Western Region), I identified it to be a juvenile Bald Eagle. No white head or tail, but definately an Bald Eagle. They keep their immature plumage for up to 4 years. The young eagle roosted in the pine tree for at least an hour or so. I was disappointed that I didn't see it fly off.

Another visitor, that has been spending quite a bit of time around here, is a Belted Kingfisher. I love these short squatty, noisy fishing birds! Every since our neighbors volunteered to host the fish pen on their dock for the winter, the kingfisher can be seen several times a day, perched atop the fish pen. Every once in a while, he will dive down through the gaps in the netting at the top, and catch himself a snack fish. I am certain there will not be 10,000 trout to let loose next May!
This was taken several weeks ago, before the snow came.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed something on our skidock rolling around in the snow and playing on the dock. At first, I thought it had to be a muskrat, but it just didn't fit. Muskrats aren't that big, and they don't play like that. They swim in a straight line, and duck under the docks. Not get out and do somersaults on them. Beau thought it looked like a weasel. I thought it looked like a little sea lion. When my husband got home from work, and we told him about the 'muskrat', he looked outside and there it was again! He was convinced it was an otter. After looking online, for sure, it was an otter. Certainly, the critter was visiting the fish pen too! I haven't seen him now for a few days, but he was here on and off for a week or more. I did manage to get a distant picture and some video.


video
Once the ice forms on the lake, I will miss all of my duck friends. I am amazed at how many types of ducks come in the fall and winter before the ice hits. There have been a pair of male Common Mergansers in the bay this last week. One day I saw a large duck roosting on the snow on the ski dock. When I looked in the binoculars, I thought perhaps there was another smaller duck on the edge of the dock, and snuggled up with this larger duck. But the detail in the pictures showed it was just the merganser and the 'smaller duck' was it's tail. You don't normally see the tail when they are in the water swimming. They really are a beautiful duck.

Christmas is on it's way... on my wish list is a DSLR camera. My old 4 megapixel FujiFilm camera needs upgraded badly! Sure hope Santa comes through for me!

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