Saturday, January 13, 2018

Ice is Nice!

"Patience is to wait for the ice to melt instead of breaking it."

― Munia Khan

Pheasant Branch Conservancy

The wind chill was -15°F when I hit the trail this morning. We did have a warming trend for a few days that melted all the snow, but another round of arctic air blew in just in time for the weekend. This time I began my hike from the creek corridor as opposed to the prairie. I eventually ended up at the latter, but there wasn't much going on there apart from an American Kestrel, Red-tailed Hawk, and a few Ring-necked Pheasants. I have yet to see a Northern Shrike this year. At the corridor, though, I figured I would find a few new birds for the birding year.

Dark-eyed Junco

It's been a good January for winter finches. I already have House Finch, American Goldfinch, Pine Siskin, and Common Redpoll. Other birders are finding crossbills and Hoary Redpolls, but observations have been far less common. Typically, the only other finch I see during my birding year is Purple Finch, usually in early April. My last encounter with White-winged Crossbills was five years ago, but it was a very memorable one.

Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin

At the risk of chilling my fingers to the bone, I spent some time away from birding to photograph interesting ice formations along the creek. Every few minutes I'd have to warm my fingers by putting my gloves back on. I had hand warmers inside of them, but I don't think that's cheating! I used to have a rechargeable hand warmer, but I can't remember where I put it.

These frosty ones look like tiny icy forests:

Checking conifers carefully with my bins, I found my first owl of the year. This Great Horned Owl was tucked away and keeping its eye on a nearby squirrel. Once the squirrel was out of sight, the owl closed its eyes and appeared to nod off. But even through thin eye-slits the ever-watchful owl keeps tabs on everything that goes on in its neighborhood.

Great Horned Owl

Pheasant Branch, Dane, Wisconsin, US
Jan 13, 2018 8:30 AM - 11:30 AM
34 species

Canada Goose
Ring-necked Pheasant
Wild Turkey
Red-tailed Hawk
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
American Kestrel
Blue Jay
American Crow
Horned Lark
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Winter Wren
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
American Tree Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
House Finch
Common Redpoll
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2018 Mike McDowell

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