Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Greeting the Birds of a New Year

In early and mid December, I spotted 2 Least Sandpipers at the Bois D'Arc Conservation Area just a little northwest of Springfield. When the new year came around, I decided to see if the hardy little shorebirds had managed to remain in spite of sub freezing temperatures in recent days. The peeps were gone, but replacing them was a flock of at least 9 American Pipits, another Ozarks winter rarity. A couple of them posed nicely for the winter afternoon photographs.

Just down the road, I spotted my first winter Wood Duck in several years. This one is arguably the most beautiful North American duck, and it is always a joy to take in its glorious plumage.A couple Red-tailed Hawks in the area made me take a second look in hopes of turning up a Rough-legged Hawk, but neither passed the test for dark wrists. Here's their pictures, nevertheless.
The most exciting sighting of the day, however, came when I least expected and was too quick to get a picture. Looking into a barn that I have checked a 1000 times unsuccessfully, I encountered a Barn Owl high in the rafters! At the instant I saw it, it swooped through the exit. I briefly looked for it outside of the barn, but a pang of guilt swept over me. I hope it returns, and brings with it a mate. For now, I'll keep its location on the down low, and hope that spring brings fledglings!

January is looking ok. A day earlier, I picked up Winter Wren, Red-shouldered Hawk, Belted Kingfisher, Golden-crowned Kinglet, and Bald Eagle at Linden, all while playing disc golf. Yesterday there were 21 Black Vultures feasting on a deer carcass on the roadside near the Springfield Nature Center. It seems I haven't even tried, and my year list currently stands at 47 species. Plans to check some lake and ponds tomorrow to add some waterfowl. Who knows where this will end?

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