Thursday, December 01, 2011

A Good Hour

Birding can be a very frustrating hobby. There are days when you expend a lot of time and effort but see little of interest. Luckily, there are also good days - for example, days when you manage to create a little time for birding and get a huge return on your investment. Yesterday was like that for me.

On my way home I drove up to Longenbaugh Road in hopes of seeing the Pyrrhuloxia that has been lurking near the Bear Creek bridge. It's been a hard bird to find so far this fall but I thought it was worth a try.

I got out of the car, I crossed over the road to the bridge, and the Pyrrhuloxia popped right up.

Okay, so he didn't come right out in the open so I could get really good photos. But he did stay in view for quite a while.

Encouraged by my success with the Pyrrhuloxia, I drove over the Cypress Creek bridge on Sharp Road. Another birder, Mark Kulstad, was already there and was enjoying watching a variety of sparrows. However, when I told him about the Pyrrhuloxia, he decided to take off for Longenbaugh.

Since the Sharp Road birds were in shadow and my camera equipment isn't the greatest, I decided to try to get really close to the patch where the sparrows were feeding. I crept up and stood perhaps 25 feet away. Surprisingly, the birds got used to me almost immediately and so I spent the next 30 minutes watching them at close range. (They often came within 5 feet of where I was standing.)

The sparrows included Chipping, White-crowned and White-throated but I was most pleased to see Harris's, of which there were about 8.

A Field Sparrow looked a little out-of-place next to the Harris's.

A Lincoln's Sparrow fitted in better.

Three or four Dark-eyed Juncos appeared several times.

The best sighting of all was a female Eastern Towhee. Towhees are secretive birds and so it's hard to get good photos of them. However, this particular bird was in a very confident mood and she spent lots of time right out in the open, sometimers too close for my lens to be able to focus on her.


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