Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Year in Birds: 2011 (Part 2)

After I posted birding highlights of 2011 yesterday, of course some more occurred to us. Perhaps foremost among these was our January sighting of a northern shrike going after prey in open farmland east of Northfield.

We also had two most unexpected yard birds (species seen in or from our yard) in 2011:
  • In the spring my son and husband saw a ring-necked pheasant in our front yard, under a young evergreen that often provides cover for the birds who visit our feeders. We are not far from the eastern edge of town, and pheasants are a fairly common sight in the farm fields just down the road, but we'd never seen a pheasant within the city limits before, let alone on our property -- and so far, never have again.
  • Also in the extremely wet spring, when a medium-sized marsh had developed in low-lying land just to the east of our property, we joked about the prospects of attracting shorebirds and were utterly dumbfounded to actually have several visits from a migrating solitary sandpiper. I took some photos through the spotting scope from our three-season porch, just to be able to say I'd photographed a sandpiper from our house.This is a bird I was even more surprised to find within the city limits than the pheasant mentioned above.

  • 2011 was also a year of many firsts for my son, who really caught the birding bug last December and was eager to add to his list. One amusing episode concerned his first red-winged blackbirds. These of course are very common birds once they arrive in the spring, but on this day we had not yet seen any for the season. We were near the ponds on the southeast end of town, where the cattails provide prime RWB habitat. At long last we saw a lone blackbird, and a bit later another, so he was quite pleased and gratified -- and then a flock of about 300 of them flew overhead. I think we actually burst out laughing.
  • Those ponds, particularly the deep, spring-fed pond south of Superior Drive, provide us much pleasure in the spring. The Superior Drive pond is usually ice-free before any other water in the area and so it attracts a really spectacular mix of migrating ducks and geese and even loons in early spring. In 2011, the year of the early but cool, wet spring, the ice was out and the pond full of ducks by mid-March.


Mary S. said...

It sounds like a very good year! I think I mentioned to you that we had also seen pheasants in our yard -- several times in the spring, then they disappeared. We are closer to the fields than you are, but it was the first time in several years I have seen pheasants (in our first couple of years out here, Lily would flush them out of the brush all the time), and the first time ever walking in the streets and in the yards. They must feel very confident!

dAwN said...

Wow~super shot of the Shrike with Mouse? vole? Looks like you had a fun birding year.
Hope 2012 brings you Super Birding!