This past Saturday, we had a rare mild day temp-wise (in the 40s), so my friend Roana and I went to look for some birds that had been seen in and around State College.
First, we went to the PSU campus to look for the White-winged Crossbills that had been seen near the Nittany Lion Inn. Sadly, we only saw (and smelled) a whole lot of crow poop and nothing else. The hemlock cones look pretty picked over, so we wondered if they had just moved on to another feeding area. My first lifer-attempt of the day was thus scuttled.
After that, we went to the duck pond to look for redheads, a pair of which had been seen recently. Sure enough, they were there and oh-so-easy to spot:
Look how beautiful they are! There's also a Ring-necked Duck (I think?) in that last photo--not a lifer, but the redheads are!
Also swimming around the pond was this HORNED (updated, thanks to Patrick and John) Grebe, [update:] NOTmy second lifer of the day! [I realized that I'd already gotten Horned Grebe on my lifelist, with a photo, back in April of 2007. That changes my whole post! It's just a daily double.
I had thought that Ro told me this was the Pied-billed, but you know--now as I'm saying this, I'm wondering if I didn't just mix it up myself. She's not prone to errors like I am.... The bad thing is that I should've KNOWN this wasn't a pied-bill. I just did a post on those! I'm so disappointed in my ID skills, or the lack thereof. I think, in my defense, that I was trying so hard to get a good photo that I didn't even look at the bird. I've talked about this tendency before; I get so caught up in the photography that I forget to really note the field marks and stuff. I just relied on Roana that day, and look what it got me. I'm bummed.
We then decided to try some different spots for the crossbills. We hiked up some snowy mountain road, and although we heard some nuthatches and Black-capped Chickadees tuning up for spring (yay!), we didn't see any crossbills. In fact, the hemlocks all around us on this round (Pine Marsh Rd.) had very few if any cones on them -- is this a sign of disease? Do they not produce cones each year? Anyone?
We then tried around the Shaver's Creek Environmental Center. No crossbills, but check this out!
That's a Red-breasted Nuthatch (along with a cute Dark-Eyed Junco, who looks really huge compared to the little nuthatch). Lifer number 3! I'd only ever seen White-breasted ones; this guy was so much smaller than the white ones. Here's another pic:
So that was my lifer DAILY DOUBLE for the weekend. No crossbills. No trifecta. Hmph.
Here's some other stuff I saw at Shaver's Creek:
this huge stuffed turkey was a little scary, actually.
This is a "Stinkpot Turtle." I'm guessing he must emit some smelly stuff. Help, Science Chimp?
This TV is for you, Lynne!
Here are some Pine Siskins we saw at the feeders near the center:
We've had a huge explosion of siskins this year, with everyone and their dog posting their pics on the listserv. It's gotten kinda funny how everyone seems to want to say "I've got 'em too! Look at my siskins!" on the listserv. I'll just say that here on the bloggy instead.
These warm temps have me sooooooo excited for spring and more adventures. I was thrilled to hear a forecast of showers, not snow, for the next couple of days. I'm just itchin' to wear shorts again.
Meanwhile, I'm sorry I haven't been posting or visiting your blogs. I only have access to the 'net during breaks and lunch now (there's a rumor that they're busting people for excessive internet use at their desks at work, so I'm trying to be good!). As a result, I'll be posting and commenting a lot less, and missing the heck out of all your blogs a lot more.