It's been mostly in the 20s and 30s here lately, so when we saw the weather Sunday forecasted in the 50s, Birdcouple knew we had to don our shirtsleeves, shorts and go do some birding. Off we went with Paul Baicich, Dan Haas, Ross Geredien, Chris Murray and Chris' girlfriend Eliza. And of course, young birding phenom Declan Haas.
Our first target was the lovely little Eastern Shore town of Oxford, Maryland, where a Snowy Owl - one of many that have irrupted out of the north and come our way this winter, had been seen. Well (you've heard this story before), we did NOT see the Snowy Owl, despite a couple of hours of dedicated searching. But we were delighted with much else, including this pair of Palm Warblers.
And some amazingly close looks at Wilson's Snipe.
Isn't it incredible how, even at such close range, the snipe's plumage melds with the leaves around it? Check out that schnoz, tailor-made for rooting around for worms and other little goodies in damp soil.
Then we were off to the waterfront at Cambridge, Maryland, where all sorts of odd ducks, literally, have been showing up. The lighting was just perfect for photography, and the waterfowl were obligingly close. Check out this Redhead:
And these Canvasback:
Female Canvasback can be really beautiful, too. The ducks were cavorting in the sunshine and open water.
We saw two of three rarities hanging out at Cambridge, Tufted Duck and Eurasian Wigeon. Once again, we just missed the Barrow's Goldeneye.
This is a good look at the difference between male Eurasian Wigeon (top) and American Wigeon (below).
Then it was off to nearby Blackwater NWR, where we feasted our eyes on American White Pelicans, White-Crowned Sparrows, Meadowlarks, and more. We chased a report of a Golden Eagle just oustide the refuge. We didn't find it, but did even better. Soaring above a controlled forest burn, Dan H picked out a distant Rough-Legged Hawk.
Thanks, Dan! This was a life for both Warren and Lisa. Paul B thinks this and the other raptors we saw soaring high over the flames - Northern Harrier, Red-Tailed Hawk, etc. - were watching for mice and other small critters running from the fire.
Only three days until next weekend!