This fellow flew over yesterday while I was out in the yard.
I’ve had others fly over, but for various reasons hadn’t gotten a photo. This one made my day.
This is the first time since I moved to NY that my parents in MA have more snow on the ground than we do. But that doesn’t mean we’re slacking here. We’re just over average snowfall, and since we’ve not had a single (normal) thaw since the snowfall started its almost all still on the ground too.
Looks so pretty and peaceful doesn’t it…..Well, here’s a photo, taken of the same spot, back on 2-2-15:
Those orange things are the tops of 5gallon Home Depot buckets that mark out my garden patch there (so we can keep the dogs off it in the winter). Now go back and look at the first picture again.
There’s a reason all that snow is unbroken and smooth. Its pushing 3ft deep. Might even be over the 3ft mark at this point actually. Its hard to be sure since the wind scours the surface constantly. The drifts are insane.
And COLD. Did I mention COLD?? Syracuse, the closest major city to me, has broken several cold temp records this winter. Last Saturday morning the temperature between midnight and 1am dropped to -16(F) before windchill. And oh yes, there was windchill. Most days the windchill is dropping the “feels like” temperature at least 20 degrees, and we’ve had drops of up to 40 thanks to the “breeze”. Its so bad that EVERYONE has ice dams and icicles on their houses this winter. No matter how well its constructed or what its made of. Even the steepest of metal roofs can’t shed their loads properly when its this cold. The local stores can’t keep roof rakes and the Roof Melt tablets in stock, and folks are out on ladders with hammers and chisels trying to keep the ice on their roofs down.
Even Apollo thinks thats cold. He still wants to go out in it mind, but instead of wanting to stay out he doesn’t argue when we tell him its time to come in either.
Which doesn’t stop him from lounging in the snow when we let him:
Poor Arty disappears completely when he tries to hop into the snow, and I’m pretty sure he frostbit one of his feet last weekend (we’re keeping an eye on it). I have booties for him, but they don’t fit well and he really doesn’t care for them, kicks them off almost as soon as he’s out the door.
The wildlife is suffering for it too. Mind, I’m not complaining, to much, since it means that the insect and rodent populations shouldn’t be as bad come spring. But the local birds are clearing my feeders (2 of which hold about 5lbs of seed apiece) in less than 2 days at this point. We had an American Tree Sparrow strike a window and not pick up and recover like normal (considering it was barely above zero I’m surprised ANY of them pick up and recover honestly), so I took it down to the local wildlife rehabber, who said that she’s got lots like him that she’s waiting for a warm spell to release. This winter has been hard on us all.
In slightly more cheerful news my tomatoes and jalapenos have all sprouted though!
Though I’m not truly a “Birder”, in the sense that I really don’t spend time and effort bird chasing, and only really care about the birds I can see without going out of my way, one of the birds I’d really like to see is a Golden Eagle. They migrate through the area every spring and fall so its entirely possible that I could, but I’ve never had the time/energy to go “chase” reports to go see one.
Back on Monday a local birder reported (report still listed as un-confirmed on eBird.org which, btw, is an awesome resource for what birds to keep an eye out for in your area if you’re interested in that sort of thing) a juvenile Golden Eagle at a location not far from me, and infact, not even that far out of my normal path for errands. So Tuesday I made a point of modifying my usual errand run to run by that area twice.
This is the description in the report from Monday:
First seen perched in a tree facing me & at some distance & through falling light snow. Appeared all dark with pale greyish bill. Feathered head ie not a vulture. Then seen flying with dihedral. Bicolor underwing pattern reminiscent of a Turkey Vulture. Pale feather colors probably accentuated because bird was flying over snow-covered ground. Prominent white in tail with dark terminal band. No white in head. Black & white pattern typical of juvenile Golden eagle but the opposite of a juvenile Bald eagle.
After checking the listed descriptions and pictures of young Goldens I decided it was possible that he really had seen a Golden, which made it worth my time. And sure enough, on my way out I spotted this stunning bird that matches the description perfectly.
There’s just one teensy little problem…..thats not a young Golden Eagle.
That is a “dark morph” Rough Legged Hawk.
Stunning bird, very distinctive and eye catching. But not an eagle.
We’ve got at least one “light morph” Rough Legged Hawk hanging around the area too though, very cool!
Sunday evening I went out to pick strawberries and found this:
(picture actually taken Monday morning)
It looked to me like something with teeth had been at the strawberries. And every single ripe berry looked like that to some degree. Oh, there was some obvious bug damage, but THATs not bug damage.
I was mad as heck, sprayed all around the tire with deer/rabbit repellent, and started keeping an extra eye on the strawberry tire.
But I never saw anything except Robins anywhere near it. Well, maybe they’re coming by at night……
Then today I read this. Do those damaged strawberries look familiar? Yah, me too…..guess its a good thing I have bird netting left over from trellising the peas…..
Passing by some fields this week and I caught sight of this:
Thats a Killdeer chasing off a female Northern Harrier. There were actually two Killdeer, but I couldn’t get an angle on the 2nd one. I assume the Harrier came to close to their nest.
And I saw my first Pileated Woodpecker:
Now that I’ve gotten a good look at him I think I’ve actually been seeing him flying around but hadn’t been able to ID him from those glimpses.
And I saw my first Indigo Bunting!
The Bluebirds might not be nesting in any of my boxes but they are in the area at least:
We set up a second humming bird feeder in the back, the fights over the one in front are fun to watch, but still…..I’ve been slowly working on inching my way closer and closer to it while the hummers feed, and as a result have managed to get some awesome shots out of it:
I also discovered that at least one of the male Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds (the only breed that normal here) thats hanging around is actually gold throated:
Did some research and it looks like that golden/orange throat isn’t abnormal, but they don’t actually know the cause of it yet. Theories range from a genetic quirk to feather age to some combination there-of.
Managed to catch some shots of a young Bald Eagle being harassed by some crows, but I won’t post the pictures cause they’re pretty horrid. I had to get help IDing the birds on them because of the long range and horrid lighting.
Seen Osprey several times. There’s definitely a nest somewhere not to far south of us, in a straight line over us from the lake, as I’ve now seen an Osprey powering over with a fish headed in direct line flight over my head on several occasions.
The Orioles have completely stopped coming into the feeders. I haven’t changed what I’m putting out for them, and they’re definitely still hanging around the yard as I see and hear them regularly. They’re just not coming in to the feeders. Not sure what happened.
The Ceder Waxwings are back! Haven’t found any nests yet this year though.
Not a whole lot going on here. I’m out of a job again, having finally quit my job at *major retailer who’s not long for this world if they keep doing what they’re doing*, which I should have done a long time ago, but I kept hoping to find something else first. But I finally decided that I needed to quit before I lost my temper at the store manager again. Its easier to find a new job when you’ve QUIT your last job vs having been fired from it.
The garden is mostly doing very well. I’m not sure that the sunflowers and corn are going to make it, not sure what I did wrong there, but I have some guesses, we’ll see I guess. Everything else is thriving, though I added some bloodmeal to the dirt under the cucumbers and the sugar snap peas yesterday as they were looking a bit yellowish. We came within a few degrees of a frost just a couple days ago, but everything seems to have survived the experience.
We almost ended up with another Tibetan Mastiff this month. There’s a breeder in Oregon who has a special needs litter, and as such is struggling to place them into appropriate homes. The number of folks who can handle TMs is limited. The number of folks who can handle TMs AND the potential medical costs and needs and heartbreak is even smaller. Unfortunately we were unable to arrange suitable transport from OR to upstate NY. Apparently NO ONE flies direct flights from OR to any of the upstate NY airports. I found 1 flight direct into JFK, but thats a 5-6hr drive each way depending on traffic. My parents who’re in MA offered to pick up the pup at the Boston airport and drive her to us, but even there, direct flights were almost non-exsistant, and none met the needed requirements. At that point I started looking at what it would cost for me to fly out there and pick her up and fly back (that way we could do a layover), but it would have been $950 just for the plane tickets, another $200 to check the puppy as baggage (she’s to big to go as a carryon), plus crating and medical cert costs. And since I can realistically expect to have to drop at LEAST that much money on vet appointments within the pup’s first month here I just didn’t have that to spare TOO.
On that same note, if you’re up to a Tibetan Mastiff (think bigger fluffier Akita with extra guardian), and up to the potential medical and heartbreak please let me know, I’ll put you in touch with the breeder.
On a happier note, last week while taking the dogs on their property rounds we discovered that the warblers had invaded the pines on the back lines. There were a TON of little brightly colored birds hopping around in the pines. They’re such little jumpy little things, I struggled to photograph and ID them, but I managed to catch solid looks at a Yellow Warbler:
A Chestnut Sided Warbler:
And a Magnolia Warbler:
The late migrating Snowy Owl who was hanging around a nearby farm finally moved on, but not before I managed to snatch one last picture:
This year I decided to experiment with putting out orange slices on a platform feeder to see if I could entice in the Orioles, and boy did I ever!
The above are all Baltimore Orioles, and I’ve been enjoying watching them. Though I could have done without the one male who kept trying to attack his reflection in the window…..
What really made it all worth while though was this bird:
That, ladies and gentlemen, is a female Orchard Oriole! Not technically rare here, but often hard to spot, and I’d never seen one before. She’s been back a few times since, but so far no sign of a male, cross your fingers for me!
Ok, he’s not truly white. He’s got just the faintest tint of yellow to his feathers.
He’s not albino, if he was he wouldn’t have the black feathers, and he’d have red eyes. Due to the faint gold tint he isn’t technically leucistic. So I’m wandering between a weird mutation and a diet problem causing him to grow in feathers in the lighter shade this year (we didn’t have an abnormally pale Goldfinch hanging around for the winter). But he’s still cool to look at!
I need to get out earlier in the morning more often!
This Osprey was eating his breakfast on a telephone pole on my way to the doc’s yesterday morning
Then while passing by a local farm I spotted this sight:
I’m not sure if that’s a late migrater, (since Snowy Owls were reported as far south as Florida this past winter), or if he’s hanging around. A Snowy’s been reported there for the previous several days, so he may be hanging around.
And then I spotted this Red-Tail looking for his breakfast:
….when I step out my door. That way when I say things like “the Great Blue Heron barely cleared the house!!!” and “The Osprey was low enough I could see his markings with my bare eyes!!!” everyone will believe me instead of rolling their eyes….
Anyway I managed to catch a few pictures yesterday dispite my forgetting to bring my camera out with me at one point.
This Osprey was collecting nesting materials near me:
And then this Red-Tailed Hawk, with a notched wing, which makes it really easy to ID this bird, decided to claim a spot on my neighbor’s property as his, and proceeded to defend the surrounding airspace with great vigor. I managed to catch some of it on camera.
At any rate, the garden expansion is in progress, which is a good thing since I’ve been told I need to get the sugar snap peas in the ground NOW. Hopefully I’ll get them planted this weekend…..