Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Shop Local

 In case there is any question about the season, this lovely set of ice bells hovering over Rennie's River was the confirmation: Winter is here. Along with the bitter cold compounded by brisk northeast winds, it was a challenge to stay outdoors very long on December 1st. Cold as I was, I managed to stay at it for most of the day by mixing short stints outside and warming up in the car as I travelled from place to place. Why do this? Well, it is the winter birding season, and some of the rare birds currently in the St. John's area may not stay.  It may be now or never.
After spending most of the day in pursuit of local birds, I WAS going to go home. Then, I ran into two other very successful birders who had seen my target wigeons at Kent's Pond. I HAD to go there.
Indeed, I saw the wigeons (American and Eurasian) all clustered together in a sheltered area. While I loved seeing them, I was disappointed with the angle of the sun. Winter sun in Newfoundland is harsh at most any time of the day.
I wasn't sure if the Pied-billed Grebe was still around, so I decided to walk around the pond to see if it might turn up. It did.
There were plenty of scaup around the pond, and they were very lively. The cold weather hadn't slowed them down a bit. All of these birds are regular winter visitors and help to take the sting out of the absence of woodland birds.
What was I thinking not to have visited Kent's Pond earlier in my day's schedule. There was so much activity that I actually forgot about the cold for a few minutes.
On my walk through the trail I was really surprised by the sudden appearance of a beautiful White-throated Sparrow. It didn't stay long, but long enough for me to get a shot or two.  That was an unexpected bonus for my last-minute stop.
On the return walk, I caught sight of another sparrow along the grassy area near the boardwalk. I couldn't tell what it was because it kept moving, most of the time straight into the sun. I pursued it stealthily in an effort to get some shots for later review. This turned out to be the best one, good enough to tell this was a Savannah Sparrow - another surprise.
I am regularly amazed by the number and variety of birds I am able to see in the St. John's area. So much so that I can't help but put up with the cold or rain to see what I can find locally.


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  2. Today was my last day at work but officially I retire at the end of this month. I can't wait to spend my free days as you do, birding to my heart's content. I haven't usually winter birded outside of the occasional jaunts in the car looking for ducks but I'll definitely be filling my days with that now.
    I have no excuse as it's not nearly as cold down here in Windsor ON as it is for you there. :)
    Happy Birding!

    1. Congratulations! A whole new world of joy and excitement awaits you.