Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ice and Quiet

The weather reports coming in last night were a bit ominous. They called for a "wintery mix," or some combination of snow, ice, and sleet to occur overnight and through the morning. Some places could expect power outages, and apparently others could expect the End Times. In a remarkable show of restraint the local school districts waited until the morning to cancel school, something quite uncommon. Usually they've canceled school here in NY as soon as a storm looks like it may hit the Pacific coast.

All of that doesn't mean I get off from work. I did leave a bit later than normal to give the road crews some time to clear up the slushy mess. Note to the village of Horseheads: take a lesson from the town of Veteran! Man, do they know how to maintain roads. Then again, they're a bit more liberal with the speeding tickets which probably pays for that increased work ethic.

Though the roads were expected to be icy and treacherous at higher elevations I decided to take my Blue Highway backroads to see what birds I might find. It wasn't precipitating, there was no wind, the temperature hovered just above freezing. All in all, not too shabby a morning, and maybe there'd be Horned Larks in the road, perhaps harriers, Rough-legged Hawks, and shrikes patrolling the open fields, and who knows what else. A Snowy Owl could turn up, or dare I hope for a Northern Hawk-owl? One was reported, but as of yet not relocated, just west of Binghamton, NY.

Male Ring-necked Pheasant walking through the corn.

All in all, I found exactly six species over seven miles of backroads. The best bird was a Ring-necked Pheasant, exactly where I started seeing them last fall. This time the corn field held his interest, he stuck around for several minutes pecking through the stubble.

My year list for 2009 is progressing slowly, a stop at Stewart Park, Ithaca may help it jump a bit. BTW, did you know I keep a running list of birds seen each year, along with life list additions, in the sidebar? Stay tuned as the numbers grow.



dAwN said...

Oh thats a great sighting for your day...what a beautiful birdie that pheasant is!

deejbrown said...

I saw that Northern Hawk Owl last Saturday--if it runs out of voles, maybe it will be headed your way!

noflickster said...

dAwN - it really was a great sighting! In a world of white and gray, the pheasant was an amazing splash of color.

deejbrown - I think there are two hawk-owl reports in NY right now, one reliable bird up near Peru, NY (east side of the Adirondaks and many hours from me), and a new as-of-yet undocumented report from about an hour from me, near Binghamton, NY. I was thinking of chasing the Peru bird, like so many others have, but I'm hoping the closer one is refound soon.

Congrats on seeing the Peru bird, I loved your retelling of your chase!

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