Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Favorite Moments and Popular Posts

I would like to thank all the new followers and readers here on Bird Lady Blog.  The Grow Your Blog party was a great way to make new friends, follow some new blogs, and get some new followers.  I'm really excited to have over 20 new followers in just a few days time and looking forward to getting to know you all better.

Due to a dead car battery, and frigid cold weather, I haven't been out birding much at all this last week, or this New Year for that matter.  So I thought perhaps I would share with you some of my favorite or most popular posts here on the Bird Lady Blog.

One of my recent great birding moments was seeing the Snowy Owl after getting a tip from my favorite news gal Shelley Monahan at KHQ6 News.  Searching for Snowy describes my adventures to see the beautiful owl, whom I have since then learned is named Henrietta.
Henrietta, the Snowy Owl

My most popular post, and I'm not sure exactly why, is Little Hawks and Birding Trails. Perhaps it's because I talk about the Great Washington State Birding Trails and the search engines pick it up?  Not sure, but it has the most views of any post here on Bird Lady Blog, but not a single comment, that wasn't spam.  It does have some cute pics of an American Kestrel with a rodent, and the sweet Great Horned Owls I saw at one of the birding trails.
Great Horned Owls at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge
This last fall I had one of the closest encounters (aside from holding the hummingbirds) that I have had with one of my most favorite birds, the Pileated Woodpecker.  This is the bird that got me interested in bird watching, and has always fascinated me.  The Best of Birding Adventures shares my excitement as I get within a couple of feet of this magnificent bird with my iPhone.
Pileated Woodpecker
Another popular post has been the post about the Tree Swallows, Tiny Egg Shell.  This picture of a baby Tree Swallow was published by Birds and Blooms magazine.
Baby Tree Swallow
A great memory of mine was when an otter came to visit the resident Great Blue Heron when we had a fish pen at the neighbors dock for the winter.  Visitors at the Fishpen Buffet has a great video of the two snacking on fish together within a couple feet of each other.
Great Blue Heron & Otter at the Fish Pen
Another great video of the Great Blue Heron hanging at the fish pen in a major snowstorm is in Rain or Shine, Sleet or Snow.
I hope you enjoyed a look back through some of my favorite birding moments and most popular posts here on Bird Lady Blog.  I can't wait for the weather to improve so I can get out to those birding trails, or even just out in the neighborhood would be nice.  It's supposed to get down to 12 degrees Fahrenheit tonight and only got up to about 22 degrees today.   That's just a tad too cold for this chick-a-dee!

~ Sherrie {Bird Lady}

Friday, January 18, 2013

Grow Your Blog Party

Welcome Grow Your Blog Party goers!  

My name is Sherrie, and they call me the Bird Lady.  Bird Lady Blog is about my birding adventures here in eastern Washington (US).  I have blended my favorite hobbies together, bird-watching, photography, and computers.  I love sharing my love of bird watching, wildlife and nature with you!

I was excited when I stumbled upon the Grow Your Blog idea while reading a fellow bird bloggers post, but disappointed that the deadline had already passed a couple of days before.  By chance, I asked to still be included and Vicki, over at 2 Bags Full, was kind enough to let me join in on the fun.  I am looking forward to meeting other bloggers and readers and expand my reading list of interesting blogs.

Recently, Bird Lady Blog has had a bit of a makeover, with several new features added and a new scrolling banner at the top and bottom, as well as a new Photo Gallery page.  It's a great way to check out some of the older posts. Another neat way to explore Bird Lady Blog is Blogger's new Snapshot View or Magazine View.  There are several other views available that you can choose. There is no sidebar available when in these special views, so to get back to the normal view, just click on "Bird Lady Blog" at the top of the page.   I noticed that these 'views' don't work on my iPhone's mobile browser.

If you are on Pinterest, there is now a "Pin It" button on the sidebar at the right, that pins a link to Bird Lady Blog on your Pinterest.  I'm planning on adding a button to future posts so that you can easily pin a post you are interested in also.  Bird Lady Blog is also on Facebook.  So be sure to stop by and 'like' the new page.  There you will find links to all the posts here on the blog.  

I have been gearing up for a Big Year birding project for 2013.  My goal this year is to see as many bird species as possible, and to visit as many of the Great Washington State Birding Trails as I can. I've been tracking my bird sightings daily with my iPhone app BirdLog, which submits my sightings to eBird.  My sightings show up here on the blog in the sidebar to the right under the BirdTrax gadget.
Red-breasted Nuthatch, a daily visitor at my suet feeders

I hope that you enjoy reading about my birding adventures, and hope that you will continue to follow as I blog about my 2013 Big Year.  I'm always interested in meeting other bird minded folks, or those that just enjoy nature, photography and blogging.

Thanks for stopping by!

~ Sherrie {Bird Lady}
Great Blue Heron

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Chickadees in the Yard

Slideshow Banners

First, I would like to bring your attention to the new slideshow banner at the top and bottom of Bird Lady Blog. I've been wanting to do something like this for a while, then I remembered some slideshows of some of my older bird photos out on Photobucket.com that I used to use for my MySpace profile. So I'm trying them out here.

Hope you enjoy them!

~ Sherrie (Bird Lady)

Chickadees in the Yard

On New Years, I hung a new feeder on the balcony, that had just been sitting around not being used.  I found some Black-Oil Sunflower Seeds in the cupboard and filled up the feeder, hoping to attract some different winter birds to my yard.  The birds are used to coming to the suet I have hanging about 15-20 feet from the balcony, but I wondered if they would be comfortable enough to come up closer to the house, as the new feeder was only about 4 feet from the slider door.  

Well, it's been a couple of weeks now, and finally I have visitors to the new feeder, the Black-capped Chickadees! Which are new on my Big Year list and my Yard list.  They are so cute when they come into the balcony area, they usually land on one of my wind chimes before going to the feeder for a seed or two.  Even a Red-breasted Nuthatch came and clung to the ropes hanging from the wind chime.  I wanted to get a picture of one of the birds doing this, as it would make for a great photo.  So I decided to set up my camera on the tripod just inside the slider door.  The plan was to get everything all set up, wait for the birds to start coming, and then open the slider up for picture taking.  Mind you it is only in the mid 20's outside.  When the chickadee finally came, then left and I opened up the door, but it didn't come back.  So until they get used to me and the tripod so close to the feeder, I would try to get a decent photo with the slider door closed.  I did recently wash the glass door since it was filthy dirty with dog nose prints from my chow chow Cubby Bears, who's bed is on the balcony.  I wanted to actually be able to 'see' the birds out of the window.  I wasn't able to get a good shot of the wind chime landing, but did get a few half way decent shots through the glass door. This chickadee sat there for the longest time with the seed in his beak, and posed for several photos.  
RAW edit
jpeg edit

Photography Talk

I did edit both the RAW and the jpeg versions, and am displaying both after some cropping and editing in Photoshop Elements 7.  I adjusted the levels, increased the contrast slightly, adjusted the brightness and sharpened the photo. I don't really like shooting in RAW because of the lag time on my camera when it saves the large files.  But I understand the importance of being able to have access to the RAW version of the photo especially when the shot is less than perfect, which many of mine fit that category just perfectly!  After looking at both photos, I'm leaning towards the jpeg edit.  It just looks crisper to me, but the colors in the RAW edit are better.

I am really trying to learn my camera manual settings better, so I experimented with the ISO, doing some of the shots at 400, and others at 800 as my lighting faded.  I set my mode to Shutter Speed Priority and tried to set the camera at the fastest shutter speed and lowest aperture that I could and still maintain the exposure. I then also took some shots in Auto Scene Recognition mode to compare. This particular photo was taken at ISO 400, f/7.2, 1/20 sec. It's not a half bad shot for being through the window, with the available light. The bokeh is nice. I like how you can see some frosty spider webs on the feeder right under the birds wing. Check it out in the larger version (click on the photo). Funny the things you notice when you are so close with the camera.  I am looking forward to more photo shoots on the balcony with the chickadees!  See if I can improve my pictures.

Don't forget to check out the slideshow down below...

Friday, January 11, 2013

Confusing Identifications

I have come to the conclusion that identifying the birds I see everyday is not an easy task.  Sure I know more birds than your average Joe and there are some that come easy to me.  The common ones I have memorized and can I.D. by sight or sound.  But then there are some real challenges, like trying to I.D. birds that are very similar, or too far away to get a good look, or fly by so fast, you don't get a chance to see their features.

A new yard bird for this week presented a challenge.  A couple of days ago when I looked out my back window, I saw a large bird fly into one of the snowy trees in the back woods.  I ran and got the binoculars and tried to locate it, but couldn't seem to find it.  Finally, I opened the window, looked and listened, and I could hear that it was either a raven or a crow.  Grabbed my iPhone and geared up my iBird app to listen to the calls of the raven and the crow to see if I could distinguish between the two and what I had heard.  Difficult to say the least, I determined at that point.  A little while later, I was letting the little dog (my chihuahua Jack E. Cheez) outside, and there was the crow/raven in the tree right there in front of me.  It looked at me, and I looked at it.  It let out a few caw, caw, caws.  I'm thinking it is a Common Raven, but then again it could be an American Crow.  We exchanged a few glances, the dog a few barks.  I was downstairs at the time, and all my 'gear' was upstairs.  So back upstairs I went, hoping to view it in the binoculars or get a quick snapshot, so I could further analyze it on the computer.  But no, it was gone by then.  Later, I could still hear it in the neighborhood, so out came the iBird app, and I love turning on the sound bites and flirting with the neighborhood birds!  Out on my balcony, in the snow, caw, caw, cawing with the crows!  But, after playing my bird games, consulting my bird apps, I concluded it was a Common Raven, bigger than the American Crow and known to hang out in the area.  The iBird recording and the back and forth between the bird and I was the clincher   Sounded just like a Raven, and not quite like a crow.  So adding to my Yard Bird List for 2013 is "The Common Raven".  I really think he was eyeing the little birds at the suet feeders, seeing if they would make a tasty little snack for a great big black bird.  The nuthatches and Downy took off until trouble left the hood.  Although I am confident that this I.D. was accurate, honestly when I only see a quick glance of a big black bird, I do my best to distinguish between the two, but can't be 100% sure.

I decided since I needed to go to the grocery store, that I would do some birding while I was out and about.  First hotspot near my home is the Walter and Betty Davis wetland about a mile from my home.  The lake is totally frozen now except for a small area at this wetland.  There were about 25 ducks there, a few easily identifiable, the rest, not so much.  Yep, another identity challenge!   I determined I really need a set of binoculars to leave in the car.  There were a pair of Common Mergansers, a male and female I am assuming.  They were apart from the rest of the group.  Also, some Mallards, and then there were the dozen or so unidentifiable ones.  So I took a few fuzzy snapshots in hopes I could I.D. them later after scrutinizing them on the computer.  I did discover several of them to be Ring-necked Ducks.   I have been questioning my I.D. of the American Coots just after New Year, and wondered if they were something else, and now I'm thinking they may have been the same group of mixed ducks, which included at least one coot with the rest of ducks. Still I'm not sure on some of the other ducks.  The females are even tougher to identify.  I'm thinking about posting a couple of the shots on Google+ in my birding communities to see if I can get some help identifying them.  This is where a better quality camera and nice zoom lens would come in handy.  Oh a bird lady can dream can't she?

*After finally going to bed at 2:45 a.m., I'm up with the hubby as he gets ready for work at 4:45 a.m.  Again looking at the fuzzy pictures I took at the wetland yesterday of the ducks I was having a hard time identifying.  I figured it out, after consulting my Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds.  Funny how a different reference can cinch the I.D.  Anyways, I am happy to report that there were several American Wigeon along with the Mergansers, Mallards, American Coot and Ring-necked Ducks.  And that is a new life bird for me!!  My first new bird of the year!
Ring-necked Duck and an American Wigeon
I didn't see many Red-tailed Hawks out today, just one actually, which is unusual.  I normally see several on a trip into town between Clayton and Wandermere.  Just after I saw the Red-tail, a Red-shafted (Northern) Flicker flew by that I identified by it's flight pattern and coloring.  A couple of those big black birds were cleaning up a deer carcus along side of the highway.  I assumed they were Ravens, and not the smaller American Crows, but it was just a quick id, as I was driving.

Next I was headed up to Mt. Spokane High School to see if I could see Henrietta, the Snowy Owl that I was lucky enough to encounter last November.  The school's newsletter said she likes to hang out between 7-9 a.m. and 2-4 p.m.  I showed up about 3 pm, and she wasn't there.  On the barn that I saw her roost upon last time, I saw three medium sized birds roosting, but couldn't make them out. Looked a bit like pigeons to me, and I thought I saw them there last time too.  Geez, if I had some binoculars, I could probably have an easier time!

A little further up the road is the Feryn Ranch Conservation Area, that I discovered when I originally came to look for the Snowy Owl.  It is part of the Great Washington State Birding Trails.  On the way, I saw an American Kestrel eating some prey on a light pole at the roundabout on Bruce Rd. and Hwy 206.  To get to the Feryn Ranch, you turn off the highway and go 3500 ft (that's what the sign says) to a parking area.  Along the way, there is a farm home with a bunch of ducks, geese, chickens and turkeys in a fenced in area just off the road.  I stopped and took some photos of the big ol' Tom Turkey that was strutting around showing me his stuff.
Black Spanish Turkey
A pregnant lady came out of the home to see what all the ruckus was about.  I said "I hope you don't mind if I take some photos of your ducks" and mentioned I was on my way to the birding trail. She was nice, and didn't mind at all.  We chatted for quite some time, and I asked about what kinds of ducks they were, hoping to score some birds for my list.  But how does that work with domestic ducks?  If it isn't in my bird books, then I won't count it.  But of course, I am still interested in any birds, not just 'the count'.   There were Toulouse Geese,  The turkeys were Black Spanish Turkeys.  She told me one of them was a Harlequin Duck, which would have been a score if it wasn't a Mallard.  I wasn't gonna argue with her.  I looked at the pics when I got home, just to make sure, and it's a Mallard all right.
When I got to the parking lot for the birding trail, the snow was starting to fall and it was windy out.  So I didn't get out of my car.  I read the signs about the Feryn Ranch Conservation Area and how the water gets there.

The grasses are tall around the parking area, so it's hard to see without getting out of your car, but I did see an old barn and what looked to be a small stream or water of some sort amongst the rolling hills of farmland.  I just spent a few minutes, and then went back to the main road, where a sweet little American Kestrel, one of the three little hawks I saw in that area, sat and posed for me for several pictures.

Still no Henrietta the Owl at the school, but I did see a couple of Black-billed Magpies in the area, and that was about the last of birds for the day.  I went shopping shortly afterwards, and even tried a couple of stores looking for binoculars, but only found a cheesy pair, so that will be a project for another day!

As I'm finalizing my post today, I am adding a Dark-eyed Junco to my Yard Birds and Year Birds.  Just one lone Junco checking out the other regulars at the suet.

Sherrie's Lakefront Yard Birds
1. Red-breasted Nuthatch
2. Downy Woodpecker
3. White-breasted Nuthatch
4. Black-capped Chickadee
5. Common Raven
6.Dark-eyed Junco

Sherrie's 2013 Big Year Birds
1. American Crow
2. Red-tailed Hawk
3. Black-billed Magpie
4. Rock Pigeon
5. Herring Gull
6. American Kestrel
7. Canada Goose
8. Common Merganser
9. Mallard
10. Ring-necked Duck
11. American Coot
12. Wild Turkey
13. Black-capped Chickadee
14. Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker
15. American Wigeon

Total 21 species for Sherrie's 2013 Big Year!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Old Man Winter ~ First Week of 2013

Well, the first week of 2013 has been cold, snowy, and icy. Just when we were getting used to it, the roads had been plowed and we could get around once again, Old Man Winter brought us several more inches of new snow overnight.  It doesn't make for the best birding.  Who wants to get out in the frigid cold when it's down to 1 degree Fahrenheit or snowing all day long?  Not this little chickadee!  

It's times like this that I am thankful for my yard birds that are attracted by my suet feeders.  For this first week in my 2013 Big Year it has been the trusty Red-breasted Nuthatches, between 1 and 4 of them visiting the suet each day.  Along with them is a female Downy Woodpecker.  Those were the only birds I had seen until Sunday, when two new birdies came to the suet feeders. I was excited to see a couple of Black-capped Chickadees and a White-breasted Nuthatch in the yard.
White-breasted Nuthatch
These four species of social birds often winter together in small mixed feeding flocks, so it is not unusual for them to be seen together.  The flocks are better able to keep an eye out for predators and can send warning signals to the other members.  They are also better able to find food and are less wary about visiting feeders.  A group of nuthatches are called a "jar" of nuthatches.  A group of chickadees is a "banditry" or "dissimulation".  Woodpeckers are known as a "descent" or a "drumming".  So what are these mixed flocks known as?  A "jar of drumming banditry"?  I get a kick out of some of these collective nouns they come up with for groups of birds.

An interesting fact about the White-breasted Nuthatch is that they are usually quiet during breeding season and in the summer.  But certainly not in the winter and spring.  They have a nasal sounding 'yank-yank' that is quite distinguishable of the nuthatches when you hear it.  The Black-capped Chickadee have their own cute little song... 'Chick-a-dee-dee-dee', hence the name.
Black-capped Chickadee
To sum up my 'Big Week' of 15 birds, (giggle)...                                                                                                            
Sherrie's Lakefront Yard Birds
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Downy Woodpecker
White-breasted Nuthatch
Black-capped Chickadee

Sherrie's Big Year Birds
American Crow
Red-tailed Hawk
Black-billed Magpie
Rock Pigeon
Herring Gull
American Kestrel
Canada Goose
Common Merganser
American Coot
Wild Turkey

Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Features on Bird Lady Blog

The days have been cold and long and boring.  Not many birds now that the lake is frozen.  So I decided to add some new features to the Bird Lady Blog.  Now, there is a Photo Gallery page in addition to a Home page where all of my blog posts appear.  The Photo Gallery page has most of my photography that I have shared here on the blog.  Each picture is linked to the original blog post that was associated with the photo.  Here you can scroll through the pictures, and if something catches your attention, you can go right to the post, which will open in a new window.

Also, new on the Bird Lady Blog, is the BirdTrax gadget.  Yes, more tech gadgets for birders! You will find it on the right hand column above my life list of birds.  BirdTrax displays eBird sightings and data, and can be customized to your liking.  I have mine set to show sightings in a 30 mile radius around my Loon Lake home in the last 30 days.  I was going to change up the settings, but have found I can't get access to the code like I did when I put it on here.  So I guess for now, we are stuck with it like it is.  Oh well, it shows my sightings and others in the community that have submitted to eBird, so it's all good.

A view counter is now located to the right above the archive directory, so you can see how many visitors the Bird Lady Blog has been getting.  I am thankful to my Facebook and Google+ followers for my increased traffic lately.  In just the last month, Bird Lady Blog has had over 500 page views for a total of 1454 as of this moment.

Recently I also added a couple of ways to quickly become a Bird Lady Blog follower on the right hand column.  You can submit your email address and become a follower, or you can subscribe to posts and/or comments. I'm always interested in other bird bloggers and photographers and would love for you to become a follower. Be sure to leave me a comment on the blog to let me know you stopped by!

A couple of cosmetic changes were made, like enlarging the headings so they are easier to see, and I made them look just a tad fancier :o)  Also planning on changing up the header and footer photos, but I'm having a hard time deciding which ones to use.  So it will be a bit yet before you see those.

Hopefully, you will enjoy these newly added features here on the Bird Lady Blog!

As I'm finishing up the final touches on the pictures for this blog post, my husband was flicking through the T.V. channels and happened to stumble on one of my favorite movies "The Notebook".  My favorite part just played where they are at the beach with all the seagulls and she is talking about wondering if in another life she was a bird.  She starts "ka ka ka'ing" and flapping her wings, and makes him say she is a bird.  Then she says "Now say you're a bird".  He replies, "If you're a bird, I'm a bird".  Love that part!
The only visitors to my yard in 2013 have been four Red-breasted Nuthatches and a female Downy Woodpecker.  They have been there each day so far.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy Bird Year!

New Year's Eve most people are getting ready to go out to parties to toast in the new year.  What was I doing?  Filling up my two empty suet feeders making sure they were ready to go.  Hanging a barely ever used bird feeder outside my balcony and filling it with some black oil sunflower seeds that I happened to find in the cupboard when I was looking for the suet.  Hardly saw any birds on New Year's Eve day, probably because my suet had been empty, and the bay was freezing over.  Only saw three Common Goldeneye. But now that my suet cages are full and my feeder has seeds, I am raring to catch a glimpse of the first bird on my 2013 list!

Woke up to a totally frozen bay, and most of the lake. Disappointing because that really hampers my waterfowl sightings.  There are still a couple of areas on the lake that are clear for now, but not that I can see from my house.  I was up earlier than my usual, since my husband is still off from work, it being New Year's Day and all.  First birds I see are the pretty much daily visitors, the Red-breasted Nuthatches.  There are two of them, no three, no... four in all.  And a female Downy Woodpecker joins the group too.  Pretty common yard birds for me.

Decided to take a trip into Spokane, have some lunch and visit with some old friends.  I see it as an opportunity to do some birding!  I grab my camera, just in case I see something exciting.  Wishing I didn't have to drive, but if I don't, I usually get car sick.  I would rather be logging any birds I might see.  My family doesn't like it when I'm driving and commenting on my bird sightings.  They feel I should be watching the road, but I can't help but observe nearby birds!  Today I was lucky, because my husband was handy, and I talked him into pressing the record button on my iPhone so I could voice record myself some memos of the birds I saw while I was driving, then I could add them to BirdLog and eBird later.  It worked out great!  

First bird sighting on the highway at the Loon Lake Summit, was an American Crow, and I saw two more just down highway 395 a bit into Clayton, and ended the day with 7 crows.  Figuring I would see several Red-tailed Hawks along highway 395, and I did.  A total of  9 of them between Clayton and Spokane.  Another given, was a Black-billed Magpie, they hang out around the Deer Park area.  It wasn't long before I saw a couple here and there and ended up with 6 magpies.  Surprise sighting of at least a dozen Rock Pigeons around Burroughs Road.  Some miscellaneous birds around town in Spokane were a gull of some sort at Wandermere, I thought possibly a California gull, but after looking at my iBird app, I think given the winter range, it is a Herring Gull.  Twelve black birds of some sort, possibly starlings.  BirdLog lists starlings, rock pigeons, and house sparrows as birds you may want to hide the sightings, because they are quite frequent.  

I talked hubby into taking the long way home so we could drive by Mt. Spokane High School to see if the Snowy Owl that I saw back at the end of November might still be around.  I bribed him with some coffee.  My assistant birder for the day!  We drove up Bigelow Gulch Road, which is where my husband grew up.  The old homestead is still there.  Spotted a couple of American Kestrels along Bruce road, and saw two huge groups of Canadian Geese, estimating 60 of them.  They were in the same spot as they were right before Christmas when we traveled to my sisters house.  Not too much farther was the Snowy Owl hang-out, but no Snowy in sight today. My best friend sent me the following email. Her son goes to Mt. Spokane High School where the Snowy Owl has been hanging out.

From the Mt Spokane High School Newsletter:


Henrietta (the snowy owl) is still with us and is most likely to be seen in the morning hours around 7 a.m. - 9 a.m. and afternoons from about 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. She is usually seen on the light and power poles looking for her prey in the fields south of the school."
So apparently she is still there, and her name is Henrietta!  Definitely going back!

After arriving back home in Loon Lake, I stopped the car at the wetland just a mile from our house.  It's not quite frozen yet, as this portion of the lake gets some sun during the winter.  There were 30 or so ducks in the dusky afternoon.  I wasn't sure that they were American Coots, thinking they were mostly black and had a little white on them.  Not enough white to be Common Goldeneyes like I had seen yesterday.  But after looking in iBird, I don't know what else they could be, so I logged them as Coots.  Probably the most exciting sighting, that I let out a gasp and a "What was THAT?", was the Wild Turkey, just one, that flew out of the woods and into a tree as we drove by on our private road.  I was hoping it was an owl!  Hubs said that our chihuahua Jack E. Cheez chased about a dozen turkeys right next to our house this morning when he let him outside.  So if I count my birding partners turkey sightings, than we have a baker's dozen turkeys for New Years Day!

All in all, it was a busy bird day with 11 species, and over 147 birds.  Didn't take any pictures on New Years Day, because I spent most of the time driving.  So first thing, the following day, January 2nd, I snapped the above photo of the Downy Woodpecker at the freshly filled suet.  Let this photo serve as a not very clear example of the photos I would like to be taking.  Heck, you can't even see her beak!  The photo below is of some Mallards I saw in Cedar Beau Bay, the only outing I had today.  Most of the lake is now frozen with a light layer of ice, except a couple of areas such as this.  I like how the bench is sticking out from the snow, welcoming you to come visit my winter wonderland!