Christmas Bird Count Tidings from Fermilab

AMTR Fermilab 12-19-2015 -8229

American Tree Sparrow

It wasn’t raining. It wasn’t snowing. It was predictably very cold and I had harbored second thoughts about taking the camera with me. But after all, the Christmas Bird Count happens only once a year. And even if I am ever-so-slightly wondering if I’m still doing things the old-fashioned way when there is probably new cutting-edge equipment that is easier to use in inclement weather, I persevered.  Resigned to the fact that if there was anything worthwhile to shoot I’d probably have to remove the gloves and deal with the frostbite later.

Fermilab 12-19-2015 -8171

So here are a few photos from my morning with one of the three teams assigned to various areas for the count.

There are always more Canada Geese and Mallards than one can count individually so you wind up doing estimates. And scanning through the crowd to see if there are any different species. Somewhere in this group were three Greater White-Fronted Geese, a couple Common Mergansers and I forget what else at this point. Not allowed to count the geese when they’re in the air.

Geese Fermilab 12-19-2015 -8193

It took awhile before we found the inevitable American Tree Sparrow flocks. This flock had an American Goldfinch with it.

And at one point we had a coyote who was easy to see if hard to get a decent picture.

Coyote Fermilab 12-19-2015 -8260

There is a wood lot not far from the Red Barn where we always go traipsing through quietly looking for owls. There is a lot of undergrowth between the pines that presents a challenge just to find a way to walk through it. I never find anything. I was looking down at a lot of frozen mushrooms underfoot that unfortunately were not captured by my ginormous lens. Then I stopped and looked up. And there it was. A Long-Eared Owl, staring at me.

Although the owl was very cooperative, it was backlit, it was dark in there, and a lot of twigs blocked my view (the owl knew all this, of course). After I took enough pictures that would at least prove what I saw, I tried to find someone in my group to tell about it. By the time I did, I had no idea exactly where I saw it. The guys went in to find it and flushed it. I felt as if I had betrayed the owl, but the owls we saw in other spots, mainly Great Horned, were also flushed, so I guess we get one day a year to disturb them for science.

Tree Sp Fermilab 12-19-2015 -8201

Not much else to report at the moment. Singing tonight with the Unity Temple Choir for a Christmas Eve service. Looking forward to a nice, quiet Christmas Day at home with the birds. Thanks for visiting, and have a very merry holiday!

11 thoughts on “Christmas Bird Count Tidings from Fermilab

  1. When is overly cold and windy it’s not worth going out under those conditions. We had a tremendous storm that lasted until this morning, lightning continuosly and the thunders sounded like bombs! There were tornados not far from us too. Today is gray and dark! Yuk! Have a Happy Holiday Lisa! 🙂 <3

  2. Just wanted to wish you a happy holiday season and thank you for your blog. Everytime I receive one of your posts it’s like a Christmas present. In addition to learning a lot about birds, I am getting really tuned in to the Chicago area.

    It’s 70 degrees here in Laurel, Maryland. Very unseasonable temps. Summer plants are still flowering and birds are not coming to feeders because there is still enough accessible natural seed. Do wish it would cool down a bit…but not like the mid west!

    Best wishes for great birding in 2016!
    Ethelyn B.

    • Hi, Ethelyn! Thanks so much for your comments, great to hear from you. Actually we had crazy warm weather yesterday, it got up to 59 degrees I think, but we’ve cooled off again, somewhat. No White Christmas going on here, that’s for sure. Birds didn’t get near my feeders yesterday for the wind. Weather is bizarre.
      Great Birding to You Too in the New Year!

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