Monday, December 22, 2008

After the storm, Snow Buntings

It’s icy and cold this morning. I didn’t sleep much last night because the wind was howling, dropping ice chunks onto the neighbor’s mini-van. I woke up at about 1:00 in the morning. By 3:00, I got up and saw a beautiful crescent moon rising over East Gloucester. By 5:00, thinking that the sunrise would be good, I drifted back to sleep. At 7:00, I saw the sunrise from my warm bed. (Yup, I should have been out there, it was good.) I got up and started to salt the sidewalk and steps, warm up some of the frost in B’s car and try to shake off the cobwebs from the lack of sleep.

I don’t drink coffee. It makes my heart race and my hands shake. Who needs that? But this morning, I felt like eggs and toast.



While I was cooking breakfast this morning, I saw some chunky white fluffy birds about 50 yards out. With eggs in the pan and toast in the toaster, I risked the possibility of contributing to global warming by turning breakfast into charcoal, I grabbed the binoculars, still on the kitchen table from Friday, and took a look. I've never seen these birds before, and quite frankly, I was baffled. This was certainly a time to "shoot first and ask questions later".




It turns out that I had a flock of about six Snow Buntings. Cheery little fellows. Please forgive the over extended focal length, digital zoomed, backlit subject. I'm just tickled to have these little guys in the neighborhood and wanted to document the sighting.



I would be thrilled to tell you that this is a life bird, but I have seen them once before. I was driving across Wyoming one February after a snow storm back in 1992 and saw a flock fly up by the side of the highway. They have a very distinctive wing pattern in flight so I'm 80% confident on the call. This is the first time that I'm 100%.

5 comments:

Eve said...

Hi Steve,
At 3:00 this morning I was laying in bed suffering with this awful winter cold I have!! Your snow bunting pictures are great! I get these guys every year at my house. I love to watch them flit all over the place, but worry about them always in the road! I can't for the life of me understand why a bird would want to live year round in the cold miserable weather!!! Do you get Common Redpolls? They are quite tame at the feeders. I haven't any yet this year but last year had up to 30 at a time.

Steve B said...

Since I live right on the harbor, I don't get many pasarines. That is why I get excited about Mockingbirds and Song Sparrows. I did see an Iceland Gull yesterday and today.

I saw my first Common Redpolls on Christmas Day last year. That was a real treat.

Make youself some chicken soup. You'll be back on your feet in no time.

Stacey Huston said...

Great shots. congrats... It is so wonderful when we get that first time photo, and I don't ever care how mine turn out the first time around ... I keep them anyhow, just for me..lol.. thanks for your name suggestions.. We have relatives whom are Lakota..lol.. and my adopted brother's name happens to be "Red Hawk" lol so I know how to pronounce it and I am thrilled with your suggestion

Steve B said...

Hi Stacey, thanks for the encouragement on these shots.

I'm the same way. I have my first bird picture ever tucked in a slide box. It was great day for my first birding adventure, I saw an Indigo Bunting and a Summer Tanager. I was 16 years old and armed with a 50mm lens. When I was 25 and started birding for reals, blew up the image with a slide projector and got a loupe out and look at the image on the wall to figure out what they were! LOL!

Regarding Cetan Luta, I just thought I’d suggest dignified North American name for your nameless Red-tailed Hawk. Wow, what a coincidence! I had no idea. I'm glad I didn't do something stoopit like send a pronunciation key!

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Beautiful little birds Steve. Seeing something like this first thing is enough to raise your spirits. So did you burn the toast? LOL!!

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