A Solitary Siskin

A Pine Siskin, alone at the feeders, lingering on its winter range. It’s 14 degrees F with snow cover… that may have something to do with this unusual sighting.

PineSiskin7Apr18#2085E2c5x7

PineSiskin7Apr18#2084E2c5x7

PineSiskin7Apr18#2081E3c5x7

Photos by NB Hunter (7April2018). © All Rights Reserved.

Advertisements

Robins and the Endless Winter

Robin5Apr18#1981E2c8x10

I’m seeing flocks of migrating robins in thickets and sheltered creek drainages. They’re back, but food is scarce in our snowy, semi-frozen landscape. The persistent fruit of staghorn sumac is a staple this time of year, for many species of birds. It is an emergency ration that helps keep them alive when winter refuses to let go.

Robin5Apr18#1985E3c8x10

Robin5Apr18#1989E3c5x7

Robin5Apr18#2016E2c5x7

Robin5Apr18#2021E2c5x7

Photos by NB Hunter (4/5/2018). © All Rights Reserved.

 

Diving Ducks

Faced with nasty weather, I took a short road trip in search of wildlife that might be out and about in freezing rain: perhaps an insulated, waterproof species, at home in the icy water. To my surprise, that turned out to be dozens of ring-necked ducks on a local reservoir. They were feeding, sometimes diving in unison. These little ducks are always a treat, but especially so in a cold and dreary landscape.

RNDucks3Apr18#1875E2c3x5

RNDuck3Apr18#1910E2c4x6

RNDuck3Apr18#1905E2c5x7

Photos by NB Hunter (3April2018).

Lasting Images of March 2018

Woodies6Mar18#0147E5c5x7

Wood Ducks 6March2018

Turks7Mar18#0294E2c5x7

Wild Turkey gobbler searching for waste grain 7March2018

EagleAM8Mar18#0519E3c8x10

Mature Bald Eagle feeding on a road-killed deer 8March2018

Turks8Mar18#0460E7c5x7

Desperate wild turkeys searching for seeds in old burdock 8March2018

Deer11Mar18#0664E2c5x7

Young deer, now relying on fat reserves for survival 11March2018

Muskrat17Mar18#1130E2c5x7

Foraging muskrat, seemingly oblivious to the snow and cold 17March2018

ChittenangoFalls31Mar18#1770E2c4x6

Evidence of the spring thaw at Chittenango Falls State Park 31March2018

RLHawk31Mar18#1796E2c5x7

A Rough-legged Hawk hunting over melting snow in the fields

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Vultures: a Mating Pair

The pair of Turkey Vultures that I see in my travels arrived from their southern winter range a couple of weeks ago. As mentioned in last week’s post, an old abandoned barn is a favorite roosting and perching site. I’ve encountered them there twice, warming in the mid-morning sun after a bitterly cold night.

Yesterday morning was my most recent encounter. The male was perched on one end of the roof, the female (shown here) on the opposite end. I stopped the truck a short distance away to observe, thinking about flight images with the blue sky as a backdrop. The female was clear of obstructions and afforded me the best opportunity for action shots, so I focused on her and waited.

Vultures24Mar18#1342E2c5x7

Vultures24Mar18#1359E2c3x5

Vultures24Mar18#1375E2c8x10

Just as I started to lose patience and question my decision to watch vultures rather than search for eagles, the male started to grow restless as well. I was sure the pair was about to take flight. Instead, I had the rare opportunity to witness and document the breeding behavior of vultures from close range.

The initial phase was hilarious and totally unexpected. The restless male started inching his way along the ridge line of the roof, occasionally having to spread his wings and steady himself, like a tight-rope walker. I was sure he was thinking flight, but he had something else in mind: procreation! His approach had been slow, steady and nonchalant, as if he was testing the receptivity of his mate.

Vultures24Mar18#1388E2c4x6

She never moved from her original perch, suggesting a willingness to cooperate. And she did. The huge dark wings of the male, spread above his mate and contrasting with a robin-egg-blue backdrop was spectacular.

Vultures24Mar18#1396E2c8x10

Vultures24Mar18#1436E2c8x10

Vultures24Mar18#1440E2c8x10

Vultures24Mar18#1444E2c5x7

Photos by NB Hunter (3/24/2018). © All Rights Reserved.

 

Spring Arrivals: Vultures

Almost Spring? A deep, crusted snow lingers on a bitterly cold, four-degree (F) morning. Old Man Winter has a death grip. Soon, there won’t be a hungry vulture in the county.

This sequence, my second sighting of vultures this season, was captured at a small abandoned barn and traditional vulture roosting site.

Vultures17Mar18#1000E7c4x6

 

Vultures17Mar18#1025E3c8x10

Vultures17Mar18#1034E3c8x10

Vultures17Mar18#1045E2c8x10

Vultures17Mar18#1043E2c8x10

Vultures17Mar18#1041E2c4x6

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

A Winter Walk (March, 2018)

Finally, after three storms and several feet of snow, the sun came out. I buckled up my snowshoes and set out to accomplish three things: pack trails for future walking and access to the property; capture some unusual, late winter scenes; and share this lovely late-winter day with friends who might be unable or unwilling to navigate waste-deep snow cover.

My woodland walk started at the house, followed a trail dating back to the construction of a small dairy farm in 1854, then looped back to the house. The adventure covered less than a mile but was nearly two hours in duration.

House15Mar18#0834E5c4x6

Home; the “1854 House”

AppleTree15Mar18#0837E2c5x7

A Wild Apple Tree

Trail15Mar18#0903E5c5x7

164 year-old farm trail with a packed snowshoe path in the center (1 of 3)

Trail15Mar18#0907E5c3x5

Chickadee15Mar18#0859E7c8x10

Chickadee feeding on White Spruce seeds in a windbreak/wildlife habitat planting (1 of 2)

Chickadee15Mar18#0864E3c8x10

Trail15Mar18#0901E2c5x7

Return trip down the woodland trail

AppleTree15Mar18#0840E3c5x7

Wild apple tree in snow and morning light; mission accomplished!

Photos by NB Hunter (15March2018). © All Rights Reserved.