Yesterday it was drizzling all day, but I had to get out at least a little bit so I went over to Koll Center Wetlands where I can bird mostly from the car (I get the foot checked out again tomororw - hopefully I will have increased freedom to roam shortly!). I saw 27 species there, a pretty decent number, and the most photogenic of which was this red-tailed hawk. I stayed in the car so I wouldn't flush it and actually opened the sun roof and photographed it in the tree above me that way!
But today, guess what?! Sunshine!! There have been some great sightings recently reported at Ridgefield NWR so I've been waiting for a good day to jet up there and hopefully add some birds to the year list, and today was clearly that day. Look at all that blue sky and sun over the Ridgefield wetlands! It was even warm enough to drive the whole auto-tour route with the windows down.
Surprisingly, there seemed to be fewer species out enjoying the nice weather than have been reported recently. I only turned up 30 today, a pretty low species count for Ridgefield....and none of them were the great horned owls, greater white-fronted geese, American bitterns, or pileated woodpeckers others have seen in the last couple of days. Ah well, there were still some nice sightings, and it was worth just being out in that great weather! One of the closest birds I got to was this western scrub-jay who posed nicely just outside the (open) car window:
As far as raptors go, there were several bald eagles and red-tailed hawks about, but the most numerous today were the northern harriers. This female (differentiated from the males by being brown instead of gray) flew overhead and looked straight down into the camera lens for this photo:
While this red-tail was hunched over preening, I was hopeful I might have spotted a great horned owl. Once it lifted its head it was clearly a red-tailed hawk, but it was generous enough to stay put for a nice photo-op:
One of the coolest sightings of the day was actually mammalian instead of avian. I saw a total of three river otters, but this one had caught a fish that it hauled towards shore in order to eat it:
This great blue heron looked on as the otter ate its prize, but it made no attempt to steal it:
There were lots of great blue herons about, including a couple that were right in the road. When I stopped to look at one, it walked right by the car allowing for some great close-ups, like this one:
In the end, only one new bird was added to the 2010 bird list: the greater scaup (88). It was a good find, though, as lesser scaup with their purplish heads are way more common on inland lakes in the winter, whereas greater scaup are mostly oceanic. I'm lucky it was sunny out, because that's the only way I would have been able to distinguish the greenish sheen on the heads of this small group of greater scaup like I did today!