Archive for December, 2020

Dec 22 2020

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Mac’s Bend

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Judy found out from her online birding group that bald eagles have been seen recently at Mac’s Bend near the mouth of the Missisquoi River, so we went there yesterday afternoon. Sure enough, we spotted a pair of them perched atop a tree on the other side of the river, not more than ten minutes into our walk. Unfortunately, they were too far away for Judy to get a good photo of them. So it goes with birding during the winter, more often than not.

We kept walking, following the gated, gravel access road to the Jeep trail ahead. We kept our eyes peeled for whatever else might come along. A woodpecker and a few nuthatches appeared. That’s all. Still it was good getting out of the house, getting some fresh air and stretching our legs. With the pandemic raging these days, we’ve been homebound for the most part.

The river was iced over and covered with a thin layer of fresh snow that also covered the access road. With temps above freezing and no wind, we were comfortable enough as we walked. Sunlight seeped through fissures in the grey clouds overhead. Animal tracks crisscrossed the river. All was quiet as the landscape settled into its winter dormancy.

After checking the time on my cell phone, I realized that there was only another hour and a half of daylight left. No surprise there, this being the shortest day of the year. Winter Solstice. The official beginning of winter. The good news is that the days will be getting longer from here on out.

Judy and I linked arms as we strolled back to the car. We chatted a bit but kept things light. There is enough darkness this time of year – especially this year. Upon reaching the car, we decided to drive around a bit on back roads and continue looking for eagles and other raptors. We spotted a hawk perched on a pole in the middle of a field and saw another one devouring a field mouse she had just caught. We enjoyed seeing houses adorned with colorful lights during our drive back home – Christmas being only four days away. Oh yeah, it’s that time of year.

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Dec 08 2020

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Eagles at Lake Carmi

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Judy is going deeper into birding. She has recently picked up several books on bird behavior and has spent the better part of the past few days reading about them. So I wasn’t surprised when she told me that she wanted to go to Lake Carmi because people from an online birding group had spotted bald eagles there. But a light snow was falling yesterday as we were getting ready to leave the house. I thought for sure she’d change her mind.

We ate our lunch in the car while parked at the Lake Carmi State Park day use area. That’s when we saw several bald eagles flying over the lake a good distance away. Shortly thereafter, while walking a nature trail around a nearby field, we spotted another one overhead, silhouetted against the grey sky. Judy wasn’t able to get a good shot of it, though. We wandered about the day use area a bit more, chilled by a steady wind out of the north before retreating to the car.

Now what? Judy suggested that we drive the road running along the northern edge of the lake. We did just that but spotted only a few songbirds in the process. Then I suggested that we drive the access roads to private camps along the west shore of the lake. It was a long shot, but we had the time so why not?

Most of the camps were closed for the season. A thin layer of snow covered the dirt road. Judy scanned the trees along the lake’s edge as we puttered along slowly. “There’s one,” she exclaimed, “Stop the car!” I did just that. Then Judy stepped out with her camera, shooting at a bald eagle resting on a branch. But the grand old bird was annoyed by my shutterbug wife so it flew away.

We sighted that eagle again a short while later. Judy stepped into the cold for a few more shots. That’s when I told her she was hardcore. Then I laughed. But I was right there with her, binoculars in hand. Such a funny pastime birding is. An endless hunt. So many different kinds of birds in all kinds of habitats. So much to learn.

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