Full-on Winter is here, and the birds are not. Who can blame them? With record-breaking cold temps and record-worthy snowfalls, it is difficult to even get out to look for birds. The sub-zero weather bites the appendages to a point where it is impossible to stay outdoors for over 10 minutes. The deep, deep snow makes the trails impassable. These deterrents have kept me indoors and will continue to do so as long as these conditions persist.
However, on January 1st I did get out to see what I could find from the comfort of my car. Two New Year's birds were the highlight of the day. First was the haughty-looking Red-throated Loon. Sitting in the Southside boat basin, this bird allowed for great views. I have never seen one so well.
It was easy to see how slight this species is compared to the Common Loon. Its beak is straight, thin and typically tilted upward. I found it curious that it didn't dive when another birder neared the edge of the water. Shortly thereafter, I approached the bird. It remained calm and just drifted along the water's edge. When I looked at my pictures, I found many images showing this loon had its eyes closed. Maybe it wasn't fully awake yet.
Torbay Beach was teeming with activity as birds gathered close to shore, perhaps to seek shelter from the winds. This adult, male Black Scoter was keeping company with two Black Guillemots and a Dovekie. I scanned the area for the Red-necked Grebe seen earlier in this area, but there was no sign of it on that day.
Word then came from the Barrett's. They had a visiting White-crowned Sparrow at their feeder. I headed over quickly. I was only able to stand in the cold for about 20 minutes. During that time, I saw the White-crowned Sparrow three times, but it would not come out into the open. By contrast, this Song Sparrow sat and posed for me for over 10 minutes. Once the roads are cleared enough and the temps warm up a little, I will head over to try to capture the record shot of the best bird-of-the-day, a Western "Gambel's" race sparrow, rare to Newfoundland.
While at the Barrett's, I was amazed to see 13 Mourning Doves perched in a nearby tree. These birds of Winter looked very comfortable, not bothered by the weather nor me.
There seems to be an abundance of Northern Flickers this year, adding some color and character to most every winter feeder.
While I have seen only a few birds during the first few days of the New Year, I still take delight in each one.