Rick Marsi Diary

Following are a collection of sightings and thoughts.

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January Sightings

Jan. 1, 09 – A nice big buck appears in the lane, almost getting to the side yard – late afternoon. Big wide spread of antlers. Siskins and chickadees eating seeds from larch cones. Many seeds covering a fresh inch of snow overnight.

Jan. 1, 11 – Five robins fly over the road just below our house.

Jan. 1, 13 - Small flock of Snow Buntings fly up on Powderhouse Rd. First Redpoll observed at feeder.

Jan. 1, 14 - Observed a lovely light-phase Rough-legged Hawk on Carr Rd. north of Whitney Point. Also found a flock of 20+ Cedar waxwings eating crab apples on Page Brook Rd. Snowy Owls have been seen at the Broome County Landfill. 

Jan. 1, 15 - Woodpeckers were well represented at the suet feeder today. Downy, Hairy and Red-bellied all made appearances, as well as a Brown Creeper.

Jan. 1, 19 - Three Goldfinches at the feeder. Only one has appeared on two other occasions this season.

 Jan. 2, 09 – Flock of at least 12 siskins has appeared. There were three yesterday. Also, the tree sparrow we’ve had sporadically for the past week has been here two days in a row.

Jan. 2, 11 – Two robins in the yard, both with pale breasts. Very warm – 50 degrees. Red-bellied woodpecker male continues to visit the suet feeder.

 Jan. 2, 13 - First day of visit to Cape Cod. Brutal wind and cold. Walked at West Dennis beach. Flock of 50 Sanderlings, plus 2-3 Dunlins feeding actively at tide line. Half-dozen Brant near shore.

Jan. 2, 15 - Clearing dead branches from the back yard, I noted that the large red oak that dropped hundreds of acorns on our deck last year, dropped none this past autumn. Proof positive that oaks produce in alternate years.

Jan. 2, 19 - Immature red-tailed hawk perched on light pole on road adjoining Binghamton University Nature Preserve. Pair of House Finches at feeder. Second appearance in a week.

Jan. 2, 20 - Several House Finches at feeder (see date above). On the Chenango River at CV State Park... What seemed like 100 Mallards, most of them males. Plus two Black Ducks.

 Jan. 3, 08 – Adult sharp-shinned hawk lands on fence surrounding shrub at corner of garage – then flies into garage and perches on small table in front corner. Then back on the fence. At that point I note a junco in the shrub. The hawk makes one attempt to go the shrub but gives up quickly. The last I see of the hawk it is flying back over the driveway, perhaps in pursuit of the junco.

Jan. 3, 13 - Visited Cape Cod wetland. A Common Snipe flew in and landed in short grass 15 feet away at marsh edge. We watched it poke around for 5 minutes. At edge of tidal channel we observed two Virginia Rails puddling about in inch-deep water. They were sheltered by an overhanging bank. Low sunlight on them. A Marsh Wren harassed them constantly.

Jan. 3, 14 - Just your typical January day in the Northeast. First it snowed two inches, with temperatures in the upper 20s. Then it sleeted for a couple hours, with temperatures rising above freezing. Then it rained all night, melting most of the snow. Then the temperature hit 52 degrees the following day, before plummeting to 24 that night. Just your typical day.

Jan. 3, 20 - On Chenango River at Otsiningo park... 10 Hooded mergansers (most female) and 10 Common Mergansers (most male).

Jan. 3, 21 - Carolina Wren snooping around garage entrance before flying under our front deck.

Jan. 4, 11 – Brown creeper scaling ash tree at edge of driveway.      

Jan. 4, 13 - Returned to West Dennis Beach, Cape Cod, to photograph sanderlings just after sunrise. Also photographed several Black Ducks and a female Common Eider.

Jan. 4, 14 - They may be just backyard birds, but they sure are fun to watch. I parked the car 10 feet from our feeders and did just that today. The two suet cakes we have lashed to large hardwoods eight feet apart were doing a booming business. In all, we counted four Downy Woodpeckers and five White-breasted Nuthatches visiting them - often at the same time. That lead to numerous bluffs and faux skirmishes. There was room for everyone, however - not only on the feeders themselves, but on the ground below them, where fallen bits of suet were quickly gobbled up.

Jan. 4, 15 - A female Red-bellied Woodpecker appeared at the suet this morning. This is the first look at a female since summer - a very good sighting. I did see a juvenile late this summer, so I'm confident we had a breeding pair. Today's sighting helps bolster that premise.

Jan. 4, 21 - Five inches of heavy wet snow greet us in the morning. Temp. at 35. A lone male House Finch is the interesting feeder bird today. 

 Jan. 5, 13 - Traveled to Guilford, CT on Long Island Sound. Walked at Hammonassett State Park there. Flock of 40 Horned Larks feeding in short brown grassy area the size of a football field. Bright yellow on the faces of some. Encountered a flock of 12 Tree Sparrows in open area surrounded by Red Cedars.

Jan. 5, 17 - Flock of 15 turkeys moves from upper woods, through yard and then down to the lower woods. Pair of Cardinals at the feeder at deep dusk.

Jan. 5, 19 - On the Chenango River at CV State Park... 50+ Mallards and a Black Duck in one backwater, plus numerous other Mallards on the river along Rte. 369.

Jan. 5, 21 - Flock of resident Juncos numbers 8 today.

 Jan. 6, 07 – Freakishly warm, well above 60. Four red-tails swirling overhead in close proximity. Haven’t seen more than one in weeks. Premature mating urge due to the warm weather? No snow at all this winter so far, with well above normal temps.

 Jan. 6, 08 - 40 redpolls in yard, most of them gleaning seeds from larch trees.

 Jan. 6, 11 – Pileated Woodpecker female bashing at base of dead pear tree very close to driveway. Observed from 30-40 feet.            

 Jan. 6, 13 - In a wetland near Old Saybrook, CT, we observed several dozen Black Ducks, plus 20 Hooded Mergansers.

Jan. 6, 14 - Our gang of Wild Turkeys now numbers 20. They visited today, without the one bird that has figured out how to fly up to the hopper feeder, six feet off the ground, perch on it, and gobble sunflower seeds.

Jan. 6, 17 - Following a light snow last night, we were able to follow fox tracks up the driveway and onto our front porch. They crossed the porch, went down the stairs on the opposite side and continued across the yard.

Jan. 6, 19 - Thirteen Bald eagles reported on ice at Whitney Point Lake. Open water on Chenango Lake at CV State Park. A lone Kingfisher in attendance, along with 100 Canada Geese.

Jan, 6, 21 - Northern Shrike reported on Gardner Rd., just a five-minute drive from here.

Jan. 7, 07 – Flush two grouse from red pine stand on upper trail.

Jan. 7, 08 – Two red-tails close, perched, in woods behind house. I walked there, not knowing they were there. One bird gave hoarse call, then flew away. Second bird flew in opposite directions a few seconds later.

Jan. 7, 09 – Ice and freezing rain. More than 15 goldfinches in larch trees getting seeds from cones. Ten turkeys in yard, nine of them with beards!

 Jan. 7, 13 - Minus 9 degrees this morning. The high gets to 2 degrees.

Jan. 7, 14 - Very cold air has arrived. Temp. this morning was 8, but with a stiff NW wind. Lake effect snow showers all day. The river is flowing with large flat chunks of ice. Temp. at 5 p.m. has dropped to 2, with continuing wind. Wind chills tonight predicted to fall to -18. The deer group that has been visiting at dusk just increased in size. At least 6, maybe 7, deer moseyed through the yard this evening, heading uphill. Always the same direction. Male and female Cardinal at the feeder during deep dusk.

Jan. 7, 15 - Just when I think all my Goldfinches have abandoned me for the winter, one or two show up. A pair was perched on the tube feeder this afternoon.

Jan. 7, 19 - Three Hooded Mergansers on pond at Otsiningo Park. Pond is half-frozen. One female Common Merganser observed on Chenango River along path. Collected a winged seed from Basswood tree along the path. rarely are they low enough to access.

 Jan. 8, 08 – Record warmth – 67 degrees. All snow is gone.

 Jan. 8, 13 - Zero degrees this morning. Sharp-shinned hawk swoops into feeder area at 9 a.m. while mourning doves are feeding. Birds escape and the hawk zooms up over the house while I watch from kitchen window.

 Jan. 8, 13 - A dozen Redpolls on ground and in hanging feeders. 14 turkeys in late afternoon.

Jan. 8, 15 - Kicked up a spray of cardinals today, driving past a weedy field. 5 or 6 birds, males and females. This is the third group of cardinals I've come upon this winter. I'm thinking the are family groups from the past mating season.

Jan. 8, 19 - Female Pileated Woodpecker returns to suet at backyard feeder. Absent about a week. Followed in quick succession by Red-bellied and Downy woodpeckers.

Jan. 8, 20 - At Aqua Terra Park... A crow chasing a Raven overhead, uttering a guttural cry I have never heard from a crow, including dozens I have heard from crows chasing ravens. the chase lasted around 100 yards at very close range. then the birds  broke away and the raven came back and passed overhead.

Jan. 8, 21 - Cold. 22 at 8 a.m. Deer hanging around the house, scrounging any seed I throw out for the birds. Female Pileated Woodpecker is back for second visit - two times today. Perching on peak of feeder roof, then leaning over to hammer at suet in cage.

Jan. 9, 09 – Four jays at feeder on cold morning.

Jan. 9, 15 - Driving a back road in Vestal, we surprised a Pileated Woodpecker feeding on the ground very close to the road. The bird flew up directly in front of the car and then crossed the road in front of us, not more than 10 yards away. What a great look at the bird's fiery crest and those big white wing patches.

Jan. 9, 18 - Six Gray Squirrels under the feeder on a 10-degree morning. A lone Goldfinch also. 

At 1 p.m., a Pileated Woodpecker is drumming below the road. It then gives a number of loud kuk, kuk, kuk calls and flies 100 yards - still below the road - and drums again. At this point, a Downy Woodpecker begins drumming on a tree above the road by the house. The two birds seem to drum at each other for five minutes. Thirty minutes later, the pileated has flown across the road and is drumming once again.

Jan. 9, 19 - Collected more basswood seeds at Otsiningo Park. Seven Hooded Mergansers and a pair of Common Mergansers on pond. At Port Dickinson Park, across the river, a lone female Mallard inflow stream mouth that empties into the Chenango.

Jan. 9, 21 - Friend Chris in Pa., about 15 miles south, reports Great Horned Owls hooting daily of late, starting around 4 p.m.

Jan. 10, 07 – Twenty-four degrees at 8:30 a.m. Clear with wind. Immature bald eagle flying over neighborhood at junction of Vestal Ave. and Clifton Blvd.

Jan. 10, 15 - Put up a small flock of House Finches, driving past the same weedy field where we flushed 5-6 Cardinals two days ago. Female Red-bellied Woodpecker at suet. She has replaced the male as our regular visitor.

Jan. 10, 1980 – Three Bald Eagles sighted at Cannonsville Reservoir outside Deposit, NY.

Jan. 10, 19 - A female Cardinal in the yard. First Cardinal sighting in weeks.

Jan. 10, 21 - Female Pileated at suet feeder. Has been coming almost every day for a week. Friends driving in spooked it into the woods today. It kak-kak-kaked loudly in protest. A minute later it flew across the back woods, giving us a good look. In late afternoon, I photographed a Mourning Doves hunkered in the snow. A very nice, shot given bright sunlight on the bird and the snow.

Jan. 11, 13 - Common Redpolls continue to appear sporadically at the feeder. I encountered a small flock on the road this morning, apparently getting grit. One bird did not fly as the car approached, forcing me to break hard. Where these birds breed, in the far north, they don't see cars.

Jan. 11, 16 - Cold front blew in last night, creating windy day today with highs only in the low 20s. The birds responded at feeders. At one point, we watched a downy woodpecker at suet feeder on ash tree, with a nuthatch descending from above and a brown creeper eating suet scraps at the base of the trunk.

Jan. 11, 19 - Continued cold has brought a pair of female Purple Finches to the feeder. Also a pair of Cardinals - not feeder regulars here by any means.

Jan. 11, 21 - Four Tom turkeys appeared in the yard this morning. Haven't seen this group all winter. Three had beards around 5 inches long; the other's was much shorter.

Jan. 12, 1980 – Cut down two large, dead American beech trees and brought home a load for firewood.

Jan. 12, 08 – Ten degrees at 8:30 a.m., when I spot 6-8 white-winged crossbills eating seeds from larch tree right in front of house. Several beautiful males among them.

Jan. 12, 13 - Flock of 30 Redpolls appears at feeders. They feed actively for 5 minutes and leave. They return a hour later - same routine.

Jan. 12 - 15 - Hiked the Bodega Head Trail. Watched a female Harrier hunting over the low shrubs. Black Oystercatchers noisily exploring rocky tidal zones, clambering over mussel beds. On Birdwatch Trail near our house, we watched a female Kestrel hovering over scrubland, diving once but with no luck. Wigeons and Mallards fed in a freshwater pond.

Jan. 12, 19 - Fox tracks around the house this morning. Walking in the woods, we came upon a Hairy Woodpecker banging away in a large knothole. Hairies are not commercials here in winter.

Jan. 12, 21 - Four Tom Turkeys have returned for a second day of scratching about in the yard and woods. At around 10:30, a Common Raven flew by, uttering a single loud one-note call every few seconds. Male and female House Finch pair at feeder.

Jan. 13, 1980 – Brought out another large Beech Tree. Skated on the pond.

Jan. 13, 04 – Yellow-throated warbler at Niko’s Diner in Binghamton. There for at least a week previously.

Jan. 13, 09 – Pair of male house finches at feeder. Also four siskins.

Jan. 13, 14 - Walked at Chenango Valley Park. Seven Black Ducks in an eddy at the base of an island in the river.

Jan. 13, 15 - Orange-crowned and Fox Sparrows foraging under shrubs around the house. Yellow-rumped Warblers flitting all over the place. On the bay... 30 Red-breasted Mergansers, several Western Grebes. A Common and Pacific Loon. Flock of 25 Ruddy Ducks. Merganser flock chasing minnows just below surface. Trailed by 12 Snowy Egrets, hopping about, snaring minnows trying the escape. Walked the coastline headlands on a trail heading north from Shell Beach. Flushed a male Harrier from a low perch only 20 yards away. It flew up and by us, 10 feet high and 20 feet away. A gorgeous view of a gorgeous bird. A Hermit Thrush was foraging along the trail. We pushed him along for quite a distance before the bird tired of the game and departed. Ruby-crowned Kinglet foraging in a large cypress tree by the house.

Jan. 13, 18 - A record 25 Dark-eyed Juncos here during extreme cold snap. At least 20 Mourning Doves as well.

Jan. 13, 19 - Fresh fox tracks on deck right next to sliding door in bedroom. Chipmunk up and about, despite the temperature being 15 degrees at 9 a.m. Male YB Sapsucker at suet. This is the third time he's visited this winter.

Jan. 13, 20 - Pileated Woodpecker calling in lower woods. It has been doing so regularly through the winter. Lone Goldfinch persist at the feeder.

Jan. 13, 21 - We counted six Red-tailed Hawks along the highway on a round-trip drive to Elmira, NY and back - a total of 100 miles.

Jan. 14, 1980 – All-night log burning nicely this morning. Painted Redstart reported in Dansville, NY.

Jan. 14, 09 – Pair of tree sparrows, plus several siskins at feeder. Very cold – 5 at 7 a.m.

Jan. 14, 15 - In CA... Walked the Bodega Bay Head Trail. Highlight was watching a female Kestrel hover at 100 feet, dive to the ground, catch a vole in its talons and and fly with it to a nearby shrub. On the bay, a highlight was watching hundreds of shorebirds lift off as one, as a Peregrine Falcon swept into view.The falcon was not in pursuit mode, and the birds quickly resettled on the mud flats where they had been feeding.

Jan.14, 16 - In the house at Bodega Bay, CA. Walked Doran Marsh Trail. Hundreds of Marbled Godwits feeding in mud flats. Hundreds more Willets feeding in marsh grasses, almost invisible gray against gray grasses. At the bay's edge, at low tide, Black Turnstones walked along, turning over stones with their bills. 

Jan. 14, 17 - Bitter cold night and day. High might get to 10. A Carolina Wren appears at the suet. Have not seen or heard it for several weeks. One brief appearance and gone.

Jan. 14, 19 - 100-200 Common Redpolls  reported on Mt. Hunger Rd. near Center Lisle. I drove there but didn't see them. I did have a small songbird flock fly over me. They looked like Snow Buntings.

Jan. 14, 20 - Pileated Woodpecker drumming in lower woods. Very warm weather has melted pond ice here. A pair of Mallards was swimming around on one pond near my house.

Jan. 14, 21 - Male Cardinal at the feeder several times. We can go a week without sighting the male or female. No female today. So much for the theory that they are inseparable. Also, two female House Finches. 

Jan. 15, 13 - Pair of Red-tailed Hawks circling low and close over lower woods. 18 Wild Turkeys at feeder. Three house finches join Common Redpoll flock visiting sunflower and finch seed feeders.

Jan. 15, 13 - Walked at CV State Park. Observed a pair of adult bald eagles perched right next to each other - couldn't get any closer - four feet from their nest at the top of a tall white pine. Really beautiful to see those bright white heads so close together.

Jan. 15, 16 - Driving back roads in southern Sonoma County, Ca... Observed Ferruginous Hawk at close range. Perched at first on telephone pone and then flying to next perch, a nearby fencepost. Also watched a male Harrier swoop in the front of the car and then dive into a roadside ditch, where it grasped a vole in its talon and flew to the ground in a nearby field to consume it.

Jan. 15, 18 - Pileated drumming loudly - just once - in upper woods. Have heard them calling all winter, but this is the first drumming in months.

Jan. 15, 19 - At CV State Park... 60+ Mallards loafing on the bank and feeding in ice-choked shallows. The feeding birds seemed oblivious to the slabs of ice floating downstream and rubbing up against them.

Jan. 15, 21 - Cloudy and warmer today, with 34 at 8 a.m. and 36 at 4 p.m. The warmer weather has made life easier for birds eating suet at the feeder. Blue jays and Red-bellied Woodpeckers today were able to dislodge large chunks of suet. Once they had them secured in their bills, they flew off to enjoy them in private.

Jan. 16, 14 - Driving down out road, I saw a flock of songbirds (maybe house sparrows) erupt into flight from a roadside ditch. Immediately after that, I saw a sharp-shinned fly low over the spot where the birds were feeding. Didn't see the breast well but got a good look at the banded tail. The bird was blue jay-sized.

Jan. 16, 15 - At Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, CA... First look ever at Elephant Seals on the beach at Chimney Rock. Mothers with pups. Huge bulls lumbering about. Jan Marsi gets two life birds while walking the Earthquake Trail along the San Andreas fault: Hutton's Vireo and Wrentit.

Jan. 16, 16 - At Ellis Creek Ponds in Sonoma County, Ca... Photographed juvenile Red-tailed Hawk and White-faced Ibis flock of 4-5 birds. Observed a tight knot of Snipe zooming overhead. 

Jan. 16, 19 - A lone Pine Siskin visits the feeder today.

Jan. 16, 21 - An inch of new wet snow greeted su this morning. Temperatures stayed between 33 and 37 all day. Every branch was covered with snow, making for a lovely winter wonderland. heavy wind forecast for tomorrow, so I'm not sure that snow has the staying power to resist. At 5:10 p.m., almost 15 minutes after sunset, three Cardinals were feeding on the ground beneath the backyard feeder - two females and a male. This is the first time all winter we have seen three Cardinals.

Jan. 17, 1980 – Did river census of Susquehanna between Vestal Four corners and Rock Bottom Dam, and Chenango near Court St. Bridge. 35 Mallards, 5 Black Ducks, 12 Tree Sparrows, 1 Brown Creeper, 3 Belted Kingfishers.

Jan. 17, 14 - On Bodega Bay, CA... A juvenile Bald Eagle circles lazily over the marsh - fairly high and not in hunting mode. Below, the hundreds of feeding shorebirds pay it no mind.

Jan. 17, 16 - Observed Surfbirds on rocks offshore at Bodega Head. Each time a huge wave would crash on the rock, they would fly up to avoid being struck.

Jan. 18, 13 - Cold and clear. High 22. Drove hills around Whitney Point. Encountered a soaring light-phase Rough-legged Hawk keeping brief company with a Raven. The raven soared below the hawk and croaked several times before drifting away. On another hill, we encountered a dark-phase Rough-leg hunting. It hovered several times but didn't dive after prey. At one point, it flew to a frozen, snow-covered deer carcass  on the side of the road. After perching on the bare rib cage for several minutes, it took off and allowed us great looks at it soaring against bright blue sky. Also saw an adult Bald Eagle flying low over the Tioghnioga River in Whitney Point. Plus, a Northern Shrike, perched at the top of a 20-foot shade tree along someone's rural driveway. Lastly, a small flock of Common Redpolls gathering grit on the road.

Jan. 18, 16 - Walked the cliffs at Shell Beach, Ca. At one point a raven soared low overhead and landed 20 yards away on a 3-foot-high wooden post by the side of the trail. We walked to within 10 feet of the bird without it showing any distress. What a look through binoculars. HUGE bird, with forward-facing bristles running from the base of the beak, pressed against it, and continuing two inches or so out onto the beak.

Jan. 18, 18 - Found 30-40 Mourning Dove breast feathers scattered under big pine by driveway. Looks like a hawk caught this dove and took it to the pine to devour. Pair of male Cardinals continues to visit the feeders.

Jan. 18, 19 - Four female Cardinals on ground beneath the feeder - certainly a high Cardinal number for the season. One male also seen today. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at suet - our intermittent visitor all winter so far.

Jan. 18, 20 - First morning at Kiawah Island, SC. Chilly but sunny on deck overlooking the ocean. From third floor perch, we look down on Brown Thrasher, Chickadee, Titmouse, Cardinal, YB Sapsucker and Carolina Wren. Also a Mockingbird surveying his domain on the dunes. A small flock of 6-8 Cedar Waxwings lands on roof of building next door.
Walked the beach at 4:30 with Mike and Anita. Photographed flock of 30+ Willets and Red Knots, plus a pair of Brown Pelicans soaring overhead.

Jan. 18, 21 - Three male House Finches in the yard today. No more than one male has been here thus far thus season. Small numbers of House Finches have appeared here periodically through this winter, but never the same number, or the same mix of males and females.

Jan. 19, 19 - Walked at CV State Park. Encountered a Red-breasted Nuthatch near area where someone has left seed for the birds. An adult Bald Eagle also seen flying across the river. Small flock of Goldfinches seed-eating high in riverside trees. Here at home, a flock of 15-20 House Finches descends on the feeder for five minutes before disappearing.

Jan. 19, 20 – In SC…Overcast. 65 degrees and windy. Walking on sidewalk on way to beach, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet zipped into a shrub right in front of us. It then uttered its harsh little scolding note.
At 4 p.m. on the beach: a flock of 15 red Knots and 6 Willets. At first they were feeding together. Then they split up but were only 15 feet apart.

Jan. 19, 21 - Three Tom turkeys appeared today. One with a stub of a beard, and the other two sporting five-inch beards. They left excellent tracks in a newly-fresh layer of snow. Also, a female Cardinal, which I photographed. 

Jan. 20, 13 - Fort Bragg, CA. On coastal outcrops, flocks of black turnstones and surfbirds. On beach, a flock of 30+ black-bellied plovers and another sanderlings. On another outcrop, we viewed pelagic and Brandt's cormorants next to each other for comparison. Friend Bill also helped us identify glaucous-winged and Thayer's gulls. At cemetery in Fort Bragg, many yellow-rumped warblers finding insects on flowering trees. At lunch, a peregrine falcon streaks by as we watch a great blue heron almost stab a vole out of its burrow. Very big surf. 65 and sunny. 

Jan. 20, 14 - Highlight today at Bodega Head Trail.. Watching a Peregrine Falcon sail by below us as we walked along Pacific Coast clifftops. Also, a California Towhee walked in the open door from our deck and had to be shooed outside again.

Jan. 20, 16 - On the Bodega Head Trail, Ca... We watched a Red-tailed Hawk swoop down and usurp a perch from a Kestrel. The Kestrel protested, swooping down on the hawk a number of times before flying off and landing on a sign post 100 yards away. The hawk, perched four feet high on a large boulder, remained there as we approached on the trail. As it turned out, the trail went directly past the big rock. We walked to within 10 feet of the bird, and it did not fly. Eventually, we walked by it and continued down the trail. The closest I will ever get to a wild bird of prey. As it turned out, we found ourselves approaching the displaced Kestrel. Forty yards away, it took off and flew out of sight.

Jan. 20, 19 - Strong storm dumps 12 inches of snow and brings frigid temps.

jan. 20, 21 - Two inches of fluffy snow greeted us this morning. As the day progressed, several squalls added another inch. Temperatures hovered in the mid-20s with a brisk NW wind. Pileated Woodpecker, plus male and female Cardinals brightened the scene. Have not seen Carolina Wren in several days. A Raven croaked overhead around 4 p.m.

Jan. 20, 20 – In SC… 37 degrees clear in a.m. Rising to 46 and warm by 3 p.m.
Photographed Dunlins, Sanderlings, Knots, Dowitcher, Laughing Gulls and Royal and Caspian Terns at beach near Ocean Course. Hundreds of Dunlins, a dozen or so Knots, a couple Dowitchers, 20 or so Royal Terns, two Caspian Tern, a dozen Laughing Gulls and a dozen Forster’s Terns.

Jan. 21, 13 - Bodega Bay, CA. Two kestrels at Bodega Head, plus two savannah sparrows in grass along trail.

Jan. 21, 15 - Photographed bull Elephant Seals at Chimney Rock area of Point Reyes. Three or four big bulls with 30 or so females and calves. The seals will be here only a short time before returning to the Pacific. The bulls will migrate all the way up the Pacific coast to Alaska before turning south and heading for the open ocean. They'll be back at Point Reyes next January.

Jan. 21, 16 - At 2:30 a.m. I got up to get a drink of water. Looking out a stairway window to our deck, I observed a Gray Fox trot along the deck and then stop at the top of a stairway leading down to the bay. The fox then turned around, trotted under the window from which I was watching it (five feet away) and stopped in front of the three floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open from the bedroom onto the deck. Having stopped, the fox, then pressed its nose to the glass and looked in! Seeing nothing of interest, it returned to the staircase and slipped quickly down to the bay (which was at low tide, offering quite a bit of ground on which to hunt). There was abundant moonlight, so my quality of vision was excellent for this wonderful right-time-right-place encounter.

Jan. 21, 19 - Minus 3 degrees at 8 a.m. Windchill -25. Cardinal actively feeding at feeder. Also 3 Purple Finch females. This is the second time in a week they've appeared.

Jan. 21, 20 – In SC… 33 degrees and sunny.
Pair of Bluebirds clinging to palm tree trunks around building. Two Towhees calling “wheep” to each other in thick shrubs. Male Cardinal.
Walked the beach and photographed Forster’s Terns loafing at surf’s edge with gulls. Several Sanderlings and a Willet also foraging along the surfline. Also photos a 25 Laughing Gulls at surf’s edge.
Birded Seabrook Island in mid-afternoon. Photod a dozen Snowy Egrets roosting at edge of lagoon. Then a dozen courting Hooded Mergansers in small freshwater pond. Then 50 Cedar Waxwings and 50 Robins gorging on juniper berries from two trees at roadside.

Jan. 21, 21  - Driving through rural Chenango County, I observed a Kestrel perched on a wire, overlooking a harvested corn field. The books will tell you Kestrels winter here in central New York, but they are hard to find. I was pleased to see this one. Arriving at a frozen lake where a friend lives, I was greeted, upon exiting the car, with the loud croak of a raven. And here, later in the afternoon, I heard the nasal call of a Red-breasted Nuthatch in the woods. Mystery bird this winter. Have yet to see it at our suet feeders, but I've heard it three or four times in the adjacent forest. 

Jan. 22, 1980 – 90 Mallards at Otsiningo Park. High 18 degrees.

Jan. 22, 08 – Lovely adult Cooper’s hawk perched in large ash next to driveway.

Jan. 22, 10 – Tom turkey gobbling and displaying for hens in the yard. Also, a red fox trotting through woods south of the house near dusk. 

Jan. 22, 13 - Temperature below 10, wind chill below zero at 9 a.m. Several chickadees singing their breeding song (see 2011 entry above). Red-bellied woodpecker male still visiting feeder.

Jan. 22, 14 - Bodega Bay, CA. Viewed Allen's and Anna's hummingbirds at close range. Also fox sparrow, spotted towhee, hermit thrush, red-shouldered hawk. At Bodega Bay, surf scoters, red-necked grebe, Clark's grebe. Black turnstones and sanderlings foraging in kelp on beach. Also, savannah sparrows foraging. Several harriers flying by and a peregrine falcon swooped in and landed on a nearby tree.

Jan. 22, 15 - Looking at a flock of 300 Marbled Godwits, resting at the edge of the marsh 200 yards away, we watched as the entire flock lifted up and flew 100 yards to the open water of the bay. There they landed again in 4 inches of water, in tight formation. At that point we noticed two Peregrine Falcons rising and swooping above them: a huge female and much smaller male. The Godwits seemed to realize the falcons could not catch them if they did not fly, so they didn't. After a minute or so, the falcons moved on. Almost immediately, the entire flock of godwits moved back to its resting spot at the edge of the marsh.

Jan. 22, 16 - At lunch today at a restaurant on Bodega Bay, we observed the following: Black Turnstone, Ruddy Turnstone, Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Common Loon, Ruddy Duck, Bufflehead, Horned Grebe, Eared Grebe. PS - I had the fish tacos. Also, at 3 a.m., Jan saw TWO foxes trotting across the deck in front of our bedroom. They have apparently learned that the house's decks and stairs provide a convenient way of getting from street level to the shore of the bay and back.

Jan. 22, 19 - Five female House Finches still here from yesterday. Eight degrees this morning. Female Pileated Woodpecker at backyard suet feeder.

Jan. 22, 20 – In SC… 35 degrees warming to 55. Clear.
Birded at CawCaw Nature Preserve from 8:30 to 11:45 a.m. Covered nearly three miles. Highlights: a dozen Wood Storks flying and feeding in shallow swale. Several juvenile Little Blue Herons and 10 Tri-colored Herons. Orange-crowned Warbler (dull green everywhere) and White-eyed Vireo (only the iris is white). Short-leafed Pine and Spruce Pine. Ilex vomitoria (a holly).

 Jan. 23, 08 – Photographed gray screech owl snoozing in sun, in box at Donnelly residence, Town of Binghamton. When I tried to approach closer, it dropped into the box. Returned home to find three redpolls at feeder.

 Jan. 23, 11 – Temperature in low teens and I hear a territorial drumming from downy woodpecker.

 Jan. 23, 12 – Raven croaks and flies over the Rosefsky Road.

 Jan, 23, 14 - Bodega Bay, CA. In morning, we walked road above Goat Rock. Lovely views of the rocks and surf below. Walked the Bodega head Trail near sunset. A male harrier sailed over our heads, just clearing the top of a cliff. Several meadowlarks foraging in short grass. At home, a peregrine falcon glided over the bay at sunset. As we left parking lot, we noticed a kestrel perched right by the road  on a 15 mph sign.

Jan. 23, 15 - At a dockside restaurant, we watched several Common Loons diving no more than 10 yards from our waterfront table. At Bodega Head, we were walking the cliff trail when a Peregrine Falcon dropped off its cliffside perch below us and sailed on set wings around the next headland up the coast. Also had a chance to watch a small flock of Bushtits foraging among lupine shrubs in scrubland along the trail.

Jan. 23, 16 - This morning, lying in bed, I saw a lone bird sweeping very low over storm-tossed, high-tide Bodega Bay waters (our house sits RIGHT on the bay). Wind was blowing 25 mph. It looked like the ocean out there. And I thought to myself, as I watched this distant bird - "looks like a storm petrel? I’ll have to ask Bill (my local bird pro and friend) if that would be possible here on the bay”. Well, Jan and I got up, had coffee, sat around a bit. Then I looked out the window, and there it was again, much closer - this time on the water, flitting up briefly, and landing again. I immediately went into emergency-photo-in-a-rush mode and managed to fire off a couple shots with the big rig before the bird swept away. By this time I knew it had to be a petrel, a bird restricted almost always to the open ocean, hardly ever seen near shore. Went to the book. The only petrel that is brown, not black (and this one clearly was dark brown, with tan stripes on upper wings) that could possibly be seen on the West Coast, is Leach’s Storm Petrel. So I sent my pics to Bill and his birding girlfriend Helen, describing the brown color I saw (it doesn’t show up well in the pics) and the wing stripes. Also the white rump, even though several petrel species have this.“I’m thinking Leach’s Storm Petrel,” I wrote, "but I await your expert analysis." I got a quick e-mail back, telling me I’m amazing. Turns out, a small group of birders on my very road had seen it, too, this morning. But no pics. They e-mailed their sighting to the birder’s hotline and were answered by the region’s ultimate pelagic bird guru, telling them they had more than likely seen - drum roll, please - the extremely rare Leach’s Petrel. My photos now will be used to document this sighting.

Jan. 23, 20 – In SC… Private Pond, Mingo Point, Ocean Course.
Viewed 6-7 Little Blue Herons wading, plus the same number of Forster’s Terns diving into the shallow water. Photographed Wax Myrtle and Yaupon Holly. At Mingo Point, 8 Oystercatchers flew by. Photographed lovely Snowy Egret in Spartina Grass. At Ocean Course, photographed juvenile banded Piping Plover.

Jan. 24, 10 – 18 turkeys feeding in the yard.

 Jan. 24, 11 – Temperature of  -12 at 8 a.m.

Jan. 24, 13 - Fox tracks cross the driveway, deposited sometime after fresh snow had fell in late afternoon yesterday. Also many rabbit tracks. Several sets of bounding tracks were 4 feet apart. Also observed wing marks in snow - from flight feathers of a wild turkey striking the snow during a take-off.

Jan. 24, 14 - Bodega Bay, CA. Got a life bird this morning: tri-colored blackbird. A number of them were feeding with red-winged blackbirds in neighborhood just off the ocean. Also observed dark phase of rough-legged hawk on rural road near Valley Ford. On road to Sebastapol, observed two cackling geese in flock of much larger Canadas.

Jan. 24, 16 - Birded Costal Range inland from the Pacific - up to around 1,700 feet. Highlights: Female Merlin perched on a phone pole; Golden Eagle soaring overhead; flock of Varied Thrushes turning wet leaves in roadside ditch; small flock of Pygmy Nuthatches foraging in tall pines. Also on Bodega Bay... Two flocks of 50+ Cackling Geese flying by, north to south, in wavering bent line, calling loudly.

Jan. 24, 20 – Beach at Windswept, SC...
Three bucks with large antlers and three does, walked down the beach and then ducked into the dunes. I was able to photograph the bucks in thick cover only because I was on the third floor.

Jan. 25, 1980 – Pileated Woodpecker flew over the house. Seven inches of ice on Whitney Point Lake.

Jan. 25, 14 - Bodega Head, CA. Walked the length of the Bodega Head Trail - about 2 miles. Wonderful views of the ocean and bay. On the ocean side, a peregrine falcon soared below us, as we watched from a high cliff. The bird was hugging the side of the cliff, gliding with set wings. Very dark on the back, with sharply angled wings. On the bay side, we watched a merlin fly overhead. Pale gray overall. Suddenly it dipped sharply the right, dropping quickly toward the ground. Again, we saw the bird's sharply angled - typically falcon-like - wings. As we neared the trail's end, walking through chest-high scrub, we flushed a pair of California quail. They flew to the top of a four-foot-high shrub and perched next to each other. We got great looks at both. Each sports a plumed topknot, but the male's is more prominent.

Jan. 25, 15 - Last day in CA. Walked around Spring Lake at county park in Santa Rosa. Saw 30 species, including Acorn and Nuttall's Woodpeckers, Oak Titmouse, Black-crowned Night Heron and Western Bluebird.

Jan. 25, 16 - Birded wetlands in southern Sonoma County. Highlights: dozens of Bonaparte's Gulls and Forster's Terns dipping to the water to feed; group of 5-6 Loggerhead Shrikes perching on grape vines and telephone poles, all in close proximity; dozens of sleeping American Avocets, and at least a dozen sleeping Long-billed Curlews.

Jan. 25, 20 – Beach at Windswept, SC…
Flock of 14 Semi-palmated Plovers

Jan. 26, 08 – Flock of seven big gobblers in the yard, eating under feeder.

 Jan, 26, 12 – Downy woodpecker and pileated both drumming around the house. Downy drumming last year on the 23rd. Titmouse singing.

 Jan. 26, 13 - Stopped at a light on the parkway at 9 a.m. I noticed 4-5 starlings flying overhead toward the car. They seemed to be out of snych, flying erratically and not as one, which starlings usually do. Almost immediately, a sharp-shinned hawk flew into view, flying in front of the car and then lifting skyward. This was a very small bird, no larger than a blue jay.

 Jan. 26, 14 - Sacramento National Wildlife, CA. Visited this famous Central Valley wintering area for snow and white-fronted geese. Thousands on the water and in the air. Also saw a prairie falcon swoop past and land on a telephone pole. It clutched a meadowlark it had just captured and dispatched. 

Jan. 26, 15 - Returned home after two weeks away to discover our feeder (which a friend had kept filled) had gained two male and one female Cardinal.

Jan. 26, 20 – Beach at Windswept, SC…
A lone Western Sandpiper feeding at surfline with several Willets. Carolina Wren sings every day.

Jan. 27, 1980 – Skated at Chris’s pond. Jan skated with Steve on her back.

Jan. 27, 11 – Observed flock of several hundred snow buntings on spread manure in high field off Carr Rd. near Upper Lisle. Also observed mature bald eagle chasing two crows from a deer carcass on Carr Rd. Flock of redpolls reported at feeder on Monkey Run Rd.

 Jan. 27, 14 - Visited Gray Lodge State Wildlife Mgt. Area. On the way, we encountered two yellow-billed magpies in a fruit tree orchard. A life bird for me. At Gray Lodge, I photographed a peregrine falcon perched in a tree; plus a white-tailed kite, also perched. 

We stopped in county park in the foothills on the way home. There we saw Barrow's goldeneye ducks, plus the uncommon Lewis's woodpecker.

Jan. 27, 15 - While we may have gained Cardinals at the feeder with the onset of real winter, we seem to have lost the Goldfinches and Juncos that were hanging in there with us through December and early January.

Jan. 27, 20 - Folly Beach, SC.
At the lighthouse beach…. 100 shorebirds. Many Knots, Dunlins, Semi-palmated Plovers and a couple Piping Plovers.

 Jan. 28, 14 - Bodega Bay, Ca. First foggy, misty day on the bay. Very low tide in the afternoon pushed about two dozen bufflehead into one close-knit flock in a shallow pool. A number of clammers took advantage of the abnormally low tide to dig in the muck with shovels.

Jan. 28, 19 - At Magnolia Swamp Garden in SC - Photographed Great Blue heron up close, Great Egret with breeding plumes, Mockingbird, bright red holly berries, Yellow-bellied Slider Turtles basking on ramps in the lake. At Kiawah island, photographed tai-colored Heron and Roseate Spoonbills roosting, juvenile and adult White Ibis feeding.

Jan. 28, 20 – Windswept/Ocean Course, SC…
Morning Sun on Beach - Windswept
Bluebird (Windswept)
Skimmers at Surfline w/ Waves (W)
Common Gallinule
Black Skimmers/Royal Terns

Jan. 29, 15 - Only two Wild Turkeys have been visiting the past several days. One of them has learned to jump up on the hopper feeder and help itself.

 Jan. 29, 13 - Birded the Susquehanna in Port Dickenson and in Binghamton along walking trail behind Binghamton Plaza. At Port Dick, at least 50 Mallards, plus 8 Hooded Mergansers and several Common Mergansers. Watched one Hooded catch what looked like a crayfish. Couldn't gulp it down however. Dropped it in the water and lost it. Two Carolina Wrens were calling on the bank and along a small stream flowing through Port Dick Community Park.   In Binghamton, we watched Common Mergansers courting. Six males swam with two females. The males fanned their tails like Ruddy Ducks, as well as splashing water into the air behind them with their webbed feet. There was also quite a bit of bluff charging going one between the males. Also observed a pair of sleeping Ring-necked Ducks on the icy shore - quite an uncommon wintering bird here.

 Jan. 29, 14 - Spring Lake, Santa Rosa, Ca. Walked at Spring Lake County Park. Observed fox and swamp sparrows, as well as a red-breasted sapsucker and a bittern.

Jan. 29, 20 – Caw Caw County Park, SC.
Photographed male Red-headed Woodpecker on Forest Sanctuary Trail. Several times it flew to what may have been its nest cavity 20 feet up in thin dead tree. As we walked there, a Red-shouldered Hawk flew low through the woods, 30 yards away, with a three-foot snake dangling from its talons. First, it landed on the ground, then flew to a nearby tree, then out of sight. We herd a Barred Owl hooting in distant woods, then heard two of the going at it from closer distance. In woods near nature center, we saw Blue-headed Vireo, Pine Warbler (singing) and Orange-crowned Warbler, plus kinglets and titmice. From the depths of the salt marsh, a low booming sound was repeated 6 or 7 times. We theorized it was a bull alligator. Photographed a vine called Yellow Jessamine. Lovely tubular, small yellow flowers. SC’s state flower.

Jan. 30, 08 – Totally white red-tailed hawk seen off  Mt. Hunger Road west of Whitney Point. Perched in tree at edge of field. Bill gray. Tail seemed to have a very faint wash of blond. One rough-legged hawk seen north of Greenwood Park. Also found a pair of red-tails and a nest near corner of George St. and Linville Rd. (near big red barn). One bird flew to nest in white pine and stood in it. This bird then flew to a nearby tree and perched two feet away from another adult.

 Jan. 30, 14 - Bodega Bay, CA - Strong NW wind creates ocean whitecaps. On Doran Spit, dozens of dunlins huddle on ocean beach during exceptionally high tide. I photograph them with curling waves in the background.

Jan. 30, 15 - Our cardinal population at the feeder keeps growing. Today, I saw three males and two females. My only explanation for the growth from zero to five this winter is that someone on the road who was feeding them has stopped. Or, perhaps they exhausted a natural food source and have been forced to visit feeders. Either way, their bright colors help brighten winter days.

Jan. 30, 18 - High of 23, with light snow and strong NW winds. At 2 p.m., I am outside to watch a Red-tailed Hawk soaring purposefully over the back woods - back and forth many times, just above treetop level. First red-tail I have seen in weeks.

Jan. 30, 19 - Near Bear Island SC Wildlife Mgt. area, photographed Adult Bald Eagle perched, Black Vulture standing by the road, cones, needles and Spanish moss, egrets and White Ibis feeding in wetland, juvenile Red-tailed Hawk on pole, White Pelican pair on the water, White Pelican in flight.

Jan. 30, 20 – Windswept, SC.
Carolina Wren calling in early morning, as it has done each day we’ve been here.
Photographed a small flock of Sanderlings at the surfline.
Jan. 31, 1908 – Spotted juvenile and adult Bald Eagle at Cannonsville Reservoir.

Jan. 31, 11 - Forty turkeys in the side yard at 8 a.m. Also afemale red-bellied woodpecker. This is the first female I’ve seen here. The male that had been here through December seems to have vanished as of mid-January.

 Jan. 31, 12 – Temperature in low 20s when I hear the breeding song of a chickadee.
Jan. 31, 13 - Just before dark, a male and female cardinal land on the feeder. They remain there for 15 minutes. It's uncommon to see both on the feeder at once. Perhaps they have pair bonded for another season together.

Jan. 31, 14 - Bodega Bay, CA. Chilly clear morning on the bay, with a light NW wind. Low sunlight on large flocks of marbled godwits tightly packed on flats just to out south.

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