Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Adios To Winter?

This weather is getting really old.  First, winter had a hard time saying "Adios!" Now, we have been our share of colder days with clouds. While Saturday was nice, Sunday was back to the clouds and gray routine. I have had enough.

So, even though Sunday started with more light drizzle and clouds, I absolutely refused to stay home again.  I needed to turn it into a birding day. Sure, the lighting sucked, but I carried my camera with me for part of the day, too.

My walk took me to the north end of the park at first.  Since January, folks have been marveling at the pair of Great Horned Owls that had taken up residence in a cavity.  I admit, I was not motivated to walk out there on any sort of a regular basis.  Knowing the amount of traffic up there, I figured I would just give them their space.

But, when I got word that the youngsters have "branched out" and left the nest, I was fired up for a photo shoot if I could get one. Unfortunately, the placement of the youngsters prevented any sort of an unobstructed view.  The above photo is basically all I could get.  

As you can see, the young are well along. Given that Great Horned Owls lay eggs by the end of January and hatch 'em out by the end of February, they certainly have a head start compared to other birds in the region!

The highlight of the trail, and quite frankly the day, was the singing male Purple Finch.  Not to be confused with the similar House Finch, the Purps simply look better and sound better if you ask me.  I think I am just a tad south to see these birds with any regularity and you have to be in the right place at the right time to see them in migration. I was. 

Other goodies along the trail included a Brown Thrasher and a swarm of Black-crowned Night Herons

The lake shore continued to show me some more signs of spring, thought I certainly remain skeptical at this point.  The Forster's Terns were nice to see so close! Note, by the way, the name. "Forster" not "Forester".  If I had a dime for every time I heard the wrong name, I would be quite rich by now!

The lakeshore also showed me, by far, the single greatest concentrations I have ever seen of Red-breasted Mergansers. Damn, are they a good looking bird! Plus, with spring in the air (supposedly), their hormones were raging! Check out this video and you can see how they manage.  Look at the birds who are straightening their neck and then throwing their breast down into the water. Yep, duck dating.  I would probably hurt myself doing that....

The lakeshore also had no less than 8 Common Loons.  I don't think I have ever see so many off the park shoreline.  Neat. 

All told, I tallied an anemic 55 species for the day.  I was hoping to get at least 65, but so be it.  Any time I can get out and bird is a good day. Plus, after being cooped up all winter with snow and cold, I was happy to get out!

That said, as I write this, I am enjoying my 982nd beer.  In an attempt to clean out my fridge of "winter" beers in my preparations for the "spring and summer" beers, I figured I had better knock down the Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout from Leinenkugals.  In a word?  Excellent!  5 out of 5. Thick, rich, sweet and malty, this a must.  I would never drink  it on the 4th of July, but a cold winter would be ideal. 

For the "spring" day during the winter that won't leave, it will certainly do!

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