Monday, December 22, 2008

Out of the Garden

The annual Christmas Bird Count in Western Gibson County in Indiana where I bird was held yesterday. Yes, during that awful abnormally cold conditions. We were out from 5:30 a.m. until 7 pm. I really shouldn't say out, we were in our car for most of the day.

Despite a constant wind with gusts up to 29 mph and wind chill temps as low as -11F we braved the weather and saw quite a few good birds. We figured it would be a birdy day with a sunrise looking like a big bird was coming up with the sun. Can you see it in the photo below? That cloud looks like a big eagle soaring about. We did have 5 Bald Eagles during the day. There were 2 adults sitting near their nest. They usually start doing this around this time of year. The rest of the Bald Eagles were young, first year, birds.
Of course out on the lake it was difficult to count birds when you look out and see this.
The steam on the lake made it nearly impossible to see all the ducks that were congregating on the lake since this water was the only water within miles that wasn't frozen.

Occasionally there would be an open window of clear enough that we could scan the thousands of ducks. It was a little easier when they went to the surrounding fields to feed. Mallards dominated the flocks. I won't bore you with all the details but suffice it to say we were pleased with the results since the conditions were arctic. It was most appropriate that the Snow Buntings were still on the break. This weather probably made them think they didn't go far enough south for the winter.

Highlights were, the Whooping Cranes were still here, we had two species of swans, Trumpter and Tundra. Falcons were well represented, Peregrine , American Kesteral and Merlin. Close to the end of the day we were saying that no CBC would be complete without an Owl. We were pleased to find 3 Short-eared Owls as our last bird of the day.

This will be one CBC that will be remembered for some time due to the weather. Dust and debris was flying about more so than the birds. It took two people to close some of the gates we had to go through and the steam didn't ever fully disapate from the lake surface. It just makes you wonder what we missed.

I hope you all were tucked in safe and warm this weekend and if I don't get back here the next few days... Have a Merry Christmas.

24 comments:

Frances said...

Hi Lisa, you and the other brave souls are to be commended for going out there, even sitting in the car, my goodness gracious how cold it must have been! The clouds at the sunrise were magnificent. I didn't see it at first, was looking up instead of the wings spread at the horizon, wonderful that you got a good shot of it, that counts as a giant coud bird. :-)
Frances

Jayne said...

You brave girl you! One look at that fog and steam on the lake, and I would have been talking myself into sitting in front of a fire with some coffee. :c)

cyndy said...

Merry Christmas Lisa!

Fantastic image of the eagle in the sunrise !!

And I'm glad to hear that an owl made the CBC.

Stay warm ;-)

Layanee said...

That is commitment! It looked beautifully serene out there near the lake. We are enjoying arctic air and lots of snow arrived here this weekend so the bird feeders were among the first things cleaned. Have a wonderful Christmas.

beckie said...

Lisa, your eagle is stunning! I'll admit I didn't see the bottom clods til Frances' somment. But once I did, wow.

How dedicated you and DB are to go out in the weather yesterday. It was wellbelow zero windchill here all day too.

Have a wonderful Christmas and give DB a big hug!

Tyra in Vaxholm said...

Hi Lisa, oh dear, I agree with Frances ohh...it must have been freezing!
Beautiful sunrise though, nice shot.

Have a wonderful and joyful Christmas Lisa./ LOL Tyra

Chandramouli S said...

-11 deg. F??? I still can't imagine such low temperatures. We get as low as 22 - 25 deg. C and we say it's cold here! Whoa! You really are brave to go out but thanks to your bravery coz we could have a look at the giant king of birds! We hardly get to see any birds here :( So it's so refreshing to visit ye'all's blogs with pictures of birds.
Have a Merry Christmas. May Santa bring in untold happiness into your lives in future!

Gail said...

Lisa, The Cloud eagle is magnificent...it just jumped off the monitor! Glad you captured it for us to see! ... and that you were birding in those cold conditions is
incredible...I imagine it was satisfying day! You had a good count!

Gail

Rose said...

You are one dedicated birder, Lisa! I didn't even venture out of the house yesterday:)
The sunrise is beautiful; I hope you saw that from the comfort of your car. Seeing bald eagles would have made the trip into the cold worthwhile.

Deb said...

You showed just how dedicated you are to the CBC cause staying out in those temps all day! What great pictures you managed to get as well.
Wishing you a Very Merry Christmas Lisa.

Thanks For 2 Day said...

Hi Lisa,
The eagle is so clear! I even see that its head is turned over its right shoulder (left side when you look at it head on). I can make out the beak and everything! I saw it right away! Must be the birder in me. I am intrigued by birds...though I've never been out with an official bird-watching group. The Wild Bird Center here offers Saturday morning outings and I've often thought of going along with them. I'm not sure I'd want to go out to a freezing lake and shiver, however:) I hope when you got home you had something warm to drink and sat in front of a cozy fire:) Jan

Flying Colors said...

These photographs are incredible. What a gift nature gives us! Thank you for baring the cold for these captures...
Have a wonderful Holiday!

Cicero Sings said...

Love that first shot!

Not many birds in our area at the moment ... chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers (pileated, hairy downy), bohemian waxwings ... oh and the odd crow though I'm pretty sure I also spotted a hawk yesterday.

Annie in Austin said...

You are so dedicated, Lisa and the photos are lovely. Seeing the bald eagles is a cool start to winter - Happy Christmas to you and yours!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Marvin said...

Congratulations on your Christmas count, even if it was more than a little cold. Fantastic sunrise shot!

Roses and Lilacs said...

Lisa, our bird count is on Christmas day. The weather is supposed to be much nicer (today the high temperature won't even reach 0-degrees F)

You have a Merry Christmas too.
Marnie

Cheryl said...

Sounds like a wonderful day out Lisa......magical moments you can never portray fully....you have to be there to see what it is truly like.....
The photographs gave us some idea.....beautiful.....loved them.....
Hope you and DB have a peaceful and happy Christams.......

Teri C said...

I'm surprised you could see anything and more surprised that the birds even ventured out in this! (so why am I in Wisconsin!--family love!)

Marry Christmas Lisa!

Q said...

Dear Lisa,
Wonderful birds! Terrible weather. Glad you were warm in the car.
I would have loved seeing the owls too.
Have a Happy Christmas,
Stay safe and warm...
Sherry

Mary said...

Lisa, you are brave! So brave! I think I would have pulled the covers over my head... Yesterday, we had wind chills in the teens so I watched birds from INSIDE THE HOUSE.

You captured some glorious sky photos, though. Beautiful!

Mary

Ewa said...

Wesołych Świąt!! Merry Christmas!

Pam/Digging said...

Merry Christmas, Lisa! I hope you have a wonderful holiday.

Gabriel said...

-11°? So brave! When you are birding, the weather is not a problem and you know that. A wonderful day! We already have all of our 4 CBC and the last one just today. I'm looking forward for the report from Indiana.

Sue said...

It sounds like you had some fun despite the cold. I love that last shot of the ducks.