Posted by: atowhee | February 4, 2008

Snow, rain, cold, gray, path under water–some lovely winter birding

hermit_thrush_presidio.jpghermitthrush.jpgLeft-hand picture by Louise Won.

I went on a Klamath Bird Observatory walk to Touvelle State Park, Feb. 2Touvelle is lowland oak forest along the south bank of the Rogue River.  It was a day of water above, below, around and upon the small group of birders.  We didn’t see a single fisherman or kayaker, thereby settling the age-old argument of which group of outdoor nuts is the nuttiest.  We win that prize.  It’s a booby prize anyway and the Booby is a most coveted bird, so it is meet and right that birders should hold this title.

The day was not just full of water but birds were pentiful as well.  We saw several Hermit Thrushes, feeding on the ground beneath the oaks.  In the river were three female Common Merganser and one lonely male Common Goldeneye.  A Pied-billed Grebe was nearby.  Later we would see numerous Common Goldeneye of both genders riding the rapid Rogue downstream.  One Bald Eagle, one Harrier, at least three red-taild Hawks.  A ridge-top pasture full of Meadowlarks.  A pondsworth of Shovler and Coots.  And Acorn Woodpeckers laughing at us as we sloshed about in the mire.  We heard Bleubirds but never saw, amking the previous day’s bluebird bonanza even more appreciated.

During part of the walk the humidity, the water falling, the steam rising, the mere hint of warmth as bincos neared the face–all combined to lower optics’ usefulness to sub-zero, worse even than the sub-40 degree temps.

One White-breasted Nuthatch showed himself on our side of the oak, and called as well.  Thank you.  One silent but easily seen Brown Creeper.  Both kinglets and lots of Golden-crowned Sparrows, Juncos and a Song Sparrow.  Spotted Towhee flitted low through bushes with their semaphore tail feathers ending out the message “white spots.”  Finally one good view of a Varied Thrush as others had eluded real spotting through the morning.  Among hominids, we birders had the park to ourselves and after we left, the birds had it to themselves.  And the ducks were in their element.  That element was unquestionably water.

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