It is the winter solstice – and apparently not the end of the world!
If all goes as planned this should be my last posting until the new year so I will wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Harrison/Chehalis Estuary.
Today we have snow.
It was snowing and 0.0 degrees when I got up….and it is still snowing and 0.0 degrees now as I post this in the late afternoon…
the desire to get snow pictures won out over any desire to conform to political correctness and so I went for a walk over to the park…this is the first bay…
and here we’re approaching the log bay…where several eagles were perched in trees..
including this juvenile Bald Eagle.
it was down right nasty on the foreshore with wind driving the snow…but here and at other spots along the foreshore were Northwestern Crows
No sign of any small birds but the ducks were there and also at least one Great Blue Heron. I think all the small birds were sheltering at area feeders, I know I had an abundance of them at mine!
including masses of Red-wing Blackbirds.
we’ll end today with a few more snowy Bald Eagle pictures…
Today was the first day that I can honestly say it felt ‘cold’. My hands, even in gloves, were getting numb…
even thought the temperature is slightly above freezing, we’ve had snow flurries, sometimes heavy, off and on all day and I see we have a snowfall warning in effect for tonight.
could hear a fair bit of Bald Eagle ‘carry on’….and saw there was quite a grouping there in the distance…
a zoomed in shot shows a Northwestern Crow in the mix.
Yes, I walked past the latest sign to get this picture of the ‘first bay’…didn’t go any further though.
the usual assortment of ducks were there, Mallards, a few Bufflehead, American Wigeon and these Gadwall. Earlier a Northern Harrier had flown low over the ducks and that set a number of them to flight. I don’t think Harrier would hunt ducks but any raptor shape flying low over head will elicit a flight response, especially this time of the year when the fish supply is dwindling and the eagles will be starting to hunt.
the Red-wing Blackbird flock was perched in this area of trees. I’ve heard that massive flocks of Pine Siskin have just shown up in the valley, birds driven south from the Alaska/Yukon area due to a poor seed crop this year….but there was no sign of any Siskin today that I could see. I know that quite a few Common Redpoll are also being reported in various area Christmas bird counts. What I did see today for just an instant, was a male House Sparrow. We very seldom see these somewhat maligned birds up this way, they are usually hanging about in super market parking lots!
The annual Christmas Bird Count that is done nation wide is an event I have never participated in and have always felt I’d like to. Today was the date scheduled for the count to be done in this area and I was quite happy to not be participating as the poor people who were counting had absolutely miserable conditions to contend with. Sleet, slush, rain and wind.
I’m not sure how we managed but the short time we went for our walk was the best weather of the day….the sun even shone for all of a few seconds before the rains returned. I don’t imagine a great many birds were actually seen…
this Bald Eagle on the shore was one of the few birds around that I could see.
With Christmas shopping done and the weather at least dry, I wanted to get over to Harrison Bay today as IBA BC033 is much bigger than just the Harrison/Chehalis estuary, and especially bigger than the tiny bit seen from my usual haunt.
We started out by heading in the opposite direction, this is the far north west corner of the estuary and I took it mainly to show that we actually did end up with snow yesterday.
this is taken from the same spot but looking the other way over the wide expanse of the estuary.
parked over at the campground in Kilby which was completely empty, I think that is the first time I’ve ever seen the campground without a single occupant (it is open year round).
it was pretty quiet and cold and dark….there were a lot of swans, probably close to a hundred out on the bay but too far off to even attempt a picture…masses of ducks with them as well.
speaking of ducks here are some Lesser Scaup that were quite close to shore. Scaup are common on the bay and the river but we never see them up in the shallow water of the estuary, I’m really not sure why since other diving ducks venture up our way.
looking back the other way….water levels are really low and so is the snow line!
I walked the dyke going back and noticed activity over at that eagle nest..
this pair of Bald Eagles were carrying sticks to add to their nest. Not an unusual activity for eagles in December.
just before we left this family of Tundra Swans swam past fairly close…from the amount of yellow on the bills of the two parents I suspect it is the same family with 2 young ones that was up our way a couple of weeks ago.
Now this might be cheating a little bit as these Double-crested Cormorant were actually in the slough at Deroche, but I feel justified in posting as yesterday when we were heading over the Harrison bridge with no camera, there were 10 cormorants all lined up on the wires over the river. Of course none were there today.
also taken at the slough this shows an assortment of waterfowl along with a heron. There are even some Cackling Geese (small at the top on the right) along with the Canada Geese….and as we were leaving Harrison Bay several skeins of Geese did fly over.
there were an amazing number of Bald Eagles perched in trees lining all of the various sloughs and waterways (far more than at the estuary or Harrison Bay), including this 4 to 5 year old busy drying off.
also, in another area there was an incredible number of both Northwestern Crows and European Starlings….and as I told my husband who was blithely driving through them all, they are birds too! This just shows a very small section of them.
With the official start of winter just a week away it seemed we were having a test run today as we actually woke up to just a skiff of snow on the grass and roof tops…
by the time we got for our walk, the clouds had lifted enough to show a very snowy Mt. Woodside.
That Bald Eagle stayed perched on his stump the entire time we were in the area…
there were actually quite a few eagles around today, perched in trees all along the foreshore and I could tell there were a lot of them on the far end of the exposed gravel bars…I think there were some swans down there too but difficult to see from my vantage point.
one of the ‘eagle trees’ over in the park had these 4 youngsters in it. The Red-wing Blackbirds were also over there, along with some Starling and I could hear the Steller’s Jay mobbing something – usually the sign of an owl being around, but didn’t brave the forbidden path to investigate.
the bit of bush over at my end was alive with Gold Crowned Kinglets – these little guys never sit still and this was the best I could manage for a picture, at least it shows the ‘gold crown’! On my way home I noticed a pair of Northern Flicker running around on a roof, almost like they were chasing something. Not sure I’ve ever seen that before!
At least it was dry…that is about the best you can say about today…
a scattering of Bald Eagles perched in various trees along the edge of the estuary…lots of those Red-wing Blackbirds in the area again as well.
another eagle sitting on the shore with a couple of little female Buffleheads in the foreground
Mallard, Gadwall and Green Wing-Teal (non in picture) rounded out the ducks…and of course a Glaucous-wing Gull
The flats were virtually deserted…although the reason was apparent…
as once again someone was walking out there. I suppose somewhere it makes sense to someone that a section of a path that has existed for years is banned yet no one in authority seems to care that people are wading across and accessing the flats on a regular basis.
No sign of any swans again today, one lone Heron perched on a piling, once again the Raven have been very vocal and active but not cooperating for any photo opportunities.
What a treat to wake up to no rain, and when the clouds burned off, some blue sky and sunshine!
the distant mountains were definitely ‘snow capped’….
even Mt. Woodside sported a white top. Despite the sunshine we didn’t venture over to the park, figuring after all the rain, everyone would be out and about and truth be told, that poor tiny little park is so over used that walking there isn't the pleasure it once was.
so we just concentrated on the immediate area where there were Bald Eagles, like this fellow having a meal…
and this one with a disgusting looking carcass – unfortunately there don’t seem to be any more live salmon in the water so the pickings are getting slim…
I wish this picture had turned out clearer but it was one of those things that happened so fast I was lucky to catch it at all.
for the first time in a while there was a Great Blue Heron sitting in the sun…should mention that Ravens have been very active and vocal lately but not cooperative for a picture!
the usual assortment of ducks, including this pair of Hooded Merganser,
this Spotted Towhee was down in the boat launch area…as were those Red-wing Blackbirds, which all dove down into the riparian habitat and disappeared from view.
in my yard I had been trying to capture the Chestnut-backed Chickadees, the Black capped Chickadees and the Red-breasted Nuthatch that were all fighting over the feeders at the same time….this is the only picture that turned out even part way presentable…
just as my camera battery died this Steller’s Jay showed up – since they are notoriously hard to get a picture of, I tried – and surprise, it is one of the better pictures I’ve managed recently.