Sunday, December 30, 2007

Winter Wonderland

With blue skies and the sun beckoning over the eastern horizon, I decided to do some snowshoeing at Rowan Creek near Poynette this morning. Since it was on the way, I made a brief stop at Goose Pond Sanctuary for a very meager attempt to locate Gray Partridges, but none were found.

While I was photographing the beautifully snow decorated landscape, my ears were drawn to the distant singing of a Northern Shrike. Using my spotting scope, I eventually located the bird on this hill at the treetops:

Can you see the shrike on the far left in the trees?

Wait a sec, look closer...

Ah yes, there it is! I estimated the distance to be 300 yards or more away, but I still made this attempt to photograph it. Normally, I don't bother to digiscope a songbird unless it's between 30 and 50 feet away. Unfortunately, and without warning, the good lighting was rapidly replaced with a dense layer of cloud cover. Before leaving Goose Pond, I snapped this shot as a reminder of spring's promise:

Traveling north on Goose Pond Road, I spotted a Rough-legged Hawk perched atop some spruce trees. Standard protocol is to drive past the bird, slow down to a stop and then attempt to photograph it. The lighting wasn't that great and, believe it or not, this picture was digiscoped from inside my car, holding my scope over my left shoulder (sans tripod, of course) with the LCD view-finder turned around so I could compose the shot:

Once at Rowan Creek, I broke one of my cardinal rules and left my spotting scope in the trunk of my car. NEVER leave your expensive optics in an unattended vehicle! Oh well. I just didn't feel like lugging it around while we hiked in our snowshoes. I did bring along my camera, though, and took a few shots of the evergreens on Pine Island. Here's one:

Birds at Rowan included Black-capped Chickadee, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Cardinal, Blue Jay, American Robin, White-breasted Nuthatch, American Crow and American Goldfinch. There was no wind and the birds were relatively quiet, though wingbeats of nearby chickadees could be heard - a very cool sound in the quiet calm of the winter woods.

All images © 2007 Mike McDowell

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