It was only 3 days ago that I entered Valley Water Mill Road as the sun rose on a balmy 60 degree morning. A Cooper's Hawk strafed the side of the car. My first Oregon race Dark-eyed Junco in Missouri hopped out of the brush to an opening near the shoreline. Just three days ago that I basked in the morning sun as I watched a Loggerhead Shrike hunt along the roadside between Valley Water Mill Pond and Fellows Lake. (photo off of Internet) In the warmth of the morning sun I set up the scope at the north end of Fellows Lake, where I spotted over a dozen Common Loons, occasionally hearing their lonely calls across the water. By 11:00 am I was on the Aldrich arm of Stockton Reservoir shedding layers of clothing and wishing for a cold front that would promise to bring massive flocks of waterfowl down from the north country.
Today at 7:00 am I checked the thermometer. 63 degrees F. It's now 5:00 p.m. 38 degrees F. Few birds have come to the feeders today, only a few goldfinches, a couple House Finches, and a lone Cardinal. The regular flock of Pine Siskins was nowhere to be found.
At Springfield Lake, a lone Ruddy Duck, a Ring-billed Gull, a Pied-billed Grebe, a Belted Kingfisher, and a flock of American Coots were all that I could see through the fog rising off of the waters.
Yes, Old Man Winter has arrived and is due to settle in for a while on this Thanksgiving eve. He has cut like a knife through the American Midwest.
But, the promise of northern birds and other vagrants holds me in its grip, as Iowa and northern Missouri continue to report arrivals from the north and who knows where else. Even a Fork-tailed Flycatcher appears to have made its way to Iowa to join the likes of Northern Shrikes, Evening Grosbeaks, Northern Goshawks, a Black-tailed Gull, Long-tailed Ducks, Red-throated Loons, Pacific Loons, Black Scoters, and more. (The FTFL photo was taken by Peter Kondrashov in Tama County, Iowa on Friday, November 23, 2007)
"Something's happening here, what it is ain't exactly clear", There's a lake with a bird over there, telling me I've got to beware. I think it's time we embrace these frigid winds and get out birding!