Friday, April 8, 2011

Little bit of this and that.

Here in Wisconsin, in winter we get snow. Sometimes we get a lot of snow. Once in a while, we get too much snow. Like above, the photo that I took the day after we received 15 inches of snow in one night. It looks really pretty, newfallen, but eventually it has to be removed. For that amount of snow, normal means of removing it simply don't work. Conventional plows get stuck.  That's when we revert to much more powerful remedies:

Yes, that's a Grader with a snowplow on the front. As of yet, we haven't had a snowstorm that they haven't been able to go through.  One drawback though, is that they tend to wipe out your mailbox...

Here's another view of the same type of machine:

Slightly smaller, but just as powerful. This one is plowing a windbreak in a field next to the road to help prevent snow from blowing over the road.
These are the awesome machines that keep our roads clear of snow so that we can go out and enjoy the weather.  Copious amounts of snow here are treated as an everyday occurrence and we simply deal with it.

Winters however, can be rather long some years, and are often quite harsh. The harsh realities of these long, cold winters don't often show themselves, but every once in a while, one runs across the evidence:

Still, quite a few species are hardy enough to survive. Even ones you might not expect.
I photographed this White-crowned Sparrow on one of my Christmas Bird Counts this winter:

I also found White-throated, Song and Fox Sparrows on that CBC (one of the products of a mild start to the winter).  However, some other migratory species find places to overwinter. This Killdeer and its mate were found foraging next to a pair of Wilson's Snipe in the shallow water in the bottom of a fish hatchery impoundment:

But of course, you have to always expect the unexpected. Killdeer and Snipe are regular CBC birds if you know where to look for them. Every once in a while, one runs across a species that they did not expect:

Carolina Wrens are, of course, non-migratory, but it's still amazing to me how they survive the harsh, cold winters of Wisconsin. They are quite a delightful CBC bird though since they, like many wrens, sing regardless of the time of year. It was very nice to hear the rolling "chorlee chorlee chorlee" echo through the woods.

But you're not thinking of winter now are you? Winter just ended. The warm weather is upon us and spring is quickly filling in its annual role. That's ok, this time last year, I wasn't thinking of spring either. I was in Ecuador looking at birds like this Immaculate Antbird:

Or this Masked Flowerpiercer:

When I arrived home, it was almost May and spring was in full swing.  Unfortunately, that's not the case this year and I'm home to watch spring slowly unfold before me. However, that can be the fun part sometimes. This is the time of year when birds are moving and rarities tend to show up. This weekend has a huge warm front moving through the upper Midwest. Who knows what that could bring.  You never know what you'll see. You gotta get out there and look. Maybe you'll get lucky one day and get a Whooping Crane or two:

Or, if you live in Wisconsin, maybe you'll get really lucky and find a Smith's Longspur:

See? You just never know. Anything could show up!

So get out there and see what you can find to share, and if you find something good, don't forget to let me know!

Til next time, Happy Birding!