Monday, February 1, 2010

Winter Waterfowl

This past weekend's extraordinarily cold weather was a little brutal for anyone spending extended periods of time outdoors.  As the mercury reached 12 degrees Fahrenheit, I bundled up and headed over to the Saw Mill River Audubon's Pryun Sanctuary to catch a glimpse of the Yellow-headed Blackbird.  This stray from the Midwest has taken up residence at the Pryun Sanctuary's feeding station for the last couple weeks and has caused quite a stir in the local birding community.  After about 15 minutes of searching through a huge flock of Red-winged Blackbirds and Brown-headed Cowbirds, the lemon-headed bird was finally spotted.  Unfortunately the bird sat well back into a tangle of bittersweet vines and gave only a distant view, but it was enough to confirm his presence and secure a new "life bird" for two other visitors watching along side me.
See that speck of yellow in the very center of the picture?  That's the YHBL as I described it above.  The view through my 8x power binoculars was slightly better and a lot more in focus.  Total distance between bird and observer was at least 40 yards...through dense vegetion.  Click here for better pictures and more information on this unique visitor to our area.

After moving on from the YHBL and running a few errands, I stopped along Rt 116 near the Purdys train station.  This area of the local reservoirs is still largely unfrozen due to the moving water.  An excellent collection of waterfowl was present and highly active.  The following birds were observed: Canada Geese, Mute Swans, American Black Ducks, Mallards, Ring-necked Ducks, Buffleheads, Hooded Mergansers, and 1 American Coot.  Below are some pictures of the birds I observed from the bridge on Rt 116.

A collection of Mute Swans, Ring-necked Ducks, and Hooded Mergansers

A Mute Swan in flight

American Coot resting in the icy water

Ring-necked Duck paddling through the water

-Adam Zorn, Naturalist

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