Bird walks in January probably seem like an outlandish concept for many. I get it. It IS very cold outside, but as a New Englander, I just wear layers of warm stuff and then I'm good to go, as long as I keep moving.
The wind chill wasn't as severe as we walked along the wooded of John Wing Island, but it was a different story when we reached the sands. It's nearly impossible to focus your own eyes when winter winds are determined to make you teary-eyed.
We had several sightings ( and hearings ) of the local regulars, and some fabulous views of a female Hairy Woodpecker who seemed to be focused on finding some bark beetles for breakfast along the tops of the Pitch Pines. I have to admit, I did not know that Hairy Woodpeckers have a broken eye ring ( a tiny circle of tiny feathers surrounding their eye which makes it look like a ring of white ). It is clear to see so though, in one of the photos I was fortunate to be able to get of her. She didn't seem to mind us so nearby at all, and she
was fun to observe and listen to as she displayed the tell tale woodpecker drumbeats while working.
I wasn't sure if the east side of the trail that crosses the dunes would be washed out as it often is, so I wanted to check it from the set of wooden steps. The trail and wood walkway was in decent shape and passable, but we weren't opting for walking right into the icy winds along the shore. I was so glad we paused there for a few moments though because as is so often on Tuesday Tweets, we were rewarded! I have NEVER seen a Merlin on our hikes, and then all of a sudden, there he was! Darting over the dunes and landing on the cedar trees, scoping out his sandy hunting ground. He was quite a distance away from us, so the photos I got make him look like a blob at the top of the tree he was perched on.
There was no doubt it was a falcon we'd seen though. He had the angular wings in fast flight and I noticed the orangey underside as he did so. Happy 2019, Bird Nerd Style!
(double click photos to enlarge)
Great Black-backed Gull
American Black Duck
|Not in the mood for photos - so s/he darted into the protection of the marsh
|Hairy Woodpecker - female
Note the broken eye ring
|Just as pretty in the shadows
|The edge of the shore of Cape Cod Bay is starting to freeze.
Does this photo make you chilly?
|MERLIN! The photos I got are admittedly sub par
I was just so happy to see him!
|Backside of a Merlin - Best my lens could do given the distance
|I like to capture this view in each season if possible
|Herring Gulls and American Black Ducks
and if you look closely - you can see the Pilgrim Monument in the top right of the photo
|We came across one of Sue Finnegan's (Cape Cod Bander) mist net areas which runs
through the woods and parallel to the main trail
|And what a trail it is!