Monday, January 07, 2013


My weekend birding foray to Pinchot State Park was a lackluster one. The lake is now iced in, and though not yet open for winter activities, the ice is already strong enough that I could watch two park employees shuffle across it to place the “thin ice” signs. Because the lake is iced in, my hope of finding some waterfowl was not met, and I was further disheartened by yet another Sunday of overcast skies and gloomy light.

However, this morning the overcast sky and the rising sun combined to produce one of those spectacular and all-too-rare glorious natural moments. The sunrise this morning more than made up for the previous day’s lack. Roundotp’s snowmaking pond stays free of ice—they pump water into and from it so often that ice is rare—and the sunrise reflected on the water and through a patch of sawgrass along the edge. Sunrises don’t get any better than this, and this one was much appreciated on a Monday morning.

My birding this January is not resulting in much of interest. I am at a paltry 28 species for the new year. Normally, I can find over 30 species on January 1 alone. This January 1 I managed just 24 species and yesterday added only 4 new species. The cold weather of last week has moved the waterfowl away from here and towards open water—wherever that may be—and yesterday I saw but 1 turkey vulture. Black vultures, a more southern species, have likely decided that Maryland is looking better for them than Pennsylvania is right now.

With the exception of juncos, I have yet to find a sparrow in the new year. I haven’t seen a house sparrow or a song sparrow, let alone a white-throated sparrow. None are coming to my feeders at all right now. In other words, my birding year is not off to an auspicious start. I suppose I could say that means it can only get better, but I’m not even sure how likely that is. Maybe next week. At least today I had the sunrise to console me.


biobabbler said...

Wow, and what a sunrise that was!

Your situation reminds me of a winter I spent some time at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Jan-Feb. I was used to San Diego, so winter for SD = LOTS Of birds 'cause it's the bird resort land, warm up spot. Not so in snowy GrCa. I recall seeing ravens and Steller's jays and that's about it. I was kinda shocked. Then I remembered that SD is not the entire world, and in some places, when winter arrives, it MEANS it. =)

Best of luck. =)

Scott said...

Carolyn: On Saturday, Kali and I thought about making plans to drive down to Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge on Delaware Bay on Sunday (about 2 hours away for us), but Saturday was chilly and we thought that it might be chilly on Sunday, too, especially since we'd be exposed out on the bayshore. And, maybe it would have been (we didn't go), but Sunday here was sunny and (relatively) warm: mid-40s. When I saw how nice the day turned out, I really regretted not getting our act together to get to the bay.

Are you sure that the tall plants growing along the edge of the pond aren't nasty Phragmites, not sawgrass?

I've had a few White-throated Sparrows at my feeder, and I see sparrows flitting through the grasslands when I take walks, but they're gone before I can ID them. A House Sparrow at my feeder is really a rarity; I almost never see them there.

Carolyn H said...

Scott: the plants in the foreground could be Phragmites. I didn't look at them all that closely. Instead was looking at that reflected sunrise! I haven't been to Bombay Hook in a year or more, unfortunately. It's a good 3 hour drive for me, and I rarely have the time to make that trip.

Carolyn H said...

Biobabbler, Thanks for posting a comment. It was a great sunrise. I only get a couple a year that are as good or nearly so.

Woodswalker said...

Beautiful color shots. Perhaps the birds will visit your feeders after the seeds in the fields are gone or covered with deeper snow.

Grizz………… said...

I'm amazed that for the moment, we're tied on bird count at 28 species. My tally, however, is not likely to rise too far beyond where I'm at now, as I have already checked off most of the common birds from the list—the exceptions being no song, field, or swamp sparrows yet, no kingfisher, no grackle or towhee. Those comprise my usual suspects. Then I have to depend on such uncommon to rare visitors such snow buntings, white-crowned sparrows, various owls (not uncommon, but seldom seen), and unusual waterfowl on the river. I can make 40 species, given time, but 50 is a tough number to top. Oddly, I've had white-throated sparrows and chippies around for several weeks.

Love the sunrise shots, espcially the pond reflection one.