Spring Scenes and Winter Landscapes

A rainy, overcast day with dirty snow and mud seems like a good time to reflect on the month of March and illustrate early spring in Central New York. I’ll emphasize wet places and some of the birds that frequent them.

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Hooded Merganser

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Canada Goose and a pair of ring-necked ducks

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Canada geese grazing in a farm field

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Killdeer grooming at a spring seep

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A pair of mallards under the reflection of deep snow

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Great Blue Heron over ice and Canada geese on open water

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A solitary Snow Goose in a flock of Canada geese

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Migrating snow geese above farm fields, refueling on waste grain

Photos by NB Hunter, March 2017. ©All Rights Reserved.

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Winter’s Grip

I’m mindful of migrating waterfowl and have been searching surface waters for an interesting subject. Needless to say, snow,  frigid temperatures and the return of ice have made that close to impossible. Of late, I’ve spent more time in my “truck blind” than afield.

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Mallards in a snow storm

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Canada geese on ice

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Hooded mergansers on a precious spot of open water

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Hoodies

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Streamside ice on a moss-covered rock

Brrrrr!!!

Photos by NB Hunter. ©All Rights Reserved.

The March Sun

Five days ago I published a post featuring the continuation of severe winter weather and wild turkeys struggling to survive. Within hours of that story, the average daily temperature rose 30 degrees F, deep snow cover began to consolidate and melt, and frozen surface waters started to thaw.  Overwhelmed by the increasing intensity and duration of the March sun, Winter is in retreat.

The first thaw in over two months had an immediate and profound effect on winter landscapes and animal behaviors. One can see it, feel it, smell it — spring is just around the corner!

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Geese and mallards on open water in a thawing wetland

Dabbling and diving ducks on a narrow, ice-free section of a small, wooded canal (3):

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Mallard drake

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Pair of Gadwalls

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Ring-necked Duck

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Waterfowl in Winter: Dabbling Ducks

The second post in my 3-part series on “Waterfowl in Winter” features two species of dabbling ducks: Mallards and Black Ducks. Unlike the diving mergansers in my last post, dabbling ducks splash around near the surface of the water, often turning upside down, as they forage on aquatic vegetation.

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Mallards feeding in a snowstorm

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Mallards, hen and drake

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Mute Swan guarding open water; mallard hen

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Black Duck

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Mute Swan and Black Ducks

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Mallard hen

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

Bird Sightings in Early April

April roared in with lake-effect snow, wind and bone-chilling temperatures. I couldn’t help but wonder, and worry, about the fate of migrating birds like the Woodcock that I accidentally flushed during the storm. Two days of stormy weather finally gave way  to sun, blue skies and temperatures above freezing. This post documents random bird sightings during that three-day period of weather extremes.

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A pair of Mallards feeding during a lake-effect snowstorm (1 of 2)

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A Cooper’s Hawk with its prey, one of a flock of 20–30 “blackbirds” that were visiting a bird-feeding site during the lake-effect snow storm.

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Common Redpoll near a feeder

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Mourning Doves at a feeding site

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One of a pair of Canada Geese staking claim to a nesting territory

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A pair of Hooded Mergansers at rest near the bank of a small, historic canal waterway

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Turkey Vulture searching the fields and roadsides for carrion.

All photos by NB Hunter