Saturday, January 17, 2009

Goldfinches - eagles - swans - geese

Yesterday there was a flock of Goldfinches in our yard. I was sitting at the sewing machine and noticed a lot of activity at the feeders. Dozens of Goldfinches - flying, swarming, landing on the feeders, sitting on the swingset, hopping about in the trees, gathering in the ferns - Goldfinches every where.

At the feeder that sticks to my studio window.

Peeking around the corner. This pictures are not bright because I can't use the flahs when taking photos through the window - all you would see is a big splash of light.

At the thistle feeder. They are hungry after their long trip here.

They will be much brighter - like this - in the summer during mating season. Right now they are wearing their duller winter coats.

I've noticed that in the wetlands near where I work that the red-winged blackbird males are back - scouting out good nesting places.

When I'm outdoors doing rounds at work I love to hear them calling. I also hear some geese from time to time - though not yet this year.

That reminds me - it is time to be going out to the river to see the Eagles. They gather along the Nooksack River during December, January and sometimes part of February. One time we saw over 200 eagles - they were circling above us - around and around - like a big whirlpool of eagles. We see them sitting in the trees, landing on the rocks at the river edge, fishing or flying. It is such a thrill to see them flocking to feed on the fish in the river. There are usually a lot of seagulls and some ducks there on the river too.

We took a trip on January 2 this year - during our snow falls - and the closer we got to the river - the worse the roads got.

Lots of snow!!!

By the time we were to the road that turns off to our favorite viewing spot we were scraping snow with the bottom of the car - the roads had never been plowed, and they get more snow out there than we do here - so we backed into a driveway and turned around - we only got to see two eagles - far away in a tree.

We turned around in this driveway.

We go several times a season and next time there won't be snow - it has all melted except in the mountains - and we are so happy about that. We even had a tiny bit of sunshine today - it didn't last long but it sure looked good. It is only 42 here - so it wasn't the least bit warm - just pretty.

Another trip we like to take is to Skagit Valley - about an hour south of here - to see the Snow Geese and the

Tundra Swans - they come and spend two or three months here each year - waiting for the snow fields to clear in Alaska so they can return to their nesting sites. The fields are often covered with Snow Geese - and we can usually drive fairly close to them - and the sound is fabulous.

One time we parked and walked very close to the flocks - something startled them and they all flew up at once - right over our heads.

Oh the sound of it - thousands and thousands of birds - flying - talking - swirling. It was like being in a whirlwind.

We could feel the wind from their wings and the sound completely engulfed us - it was magical.

I get so excited I can barely hold the camera still to take the pictures - it is an amazing experience.

Even the sound of the Snow Geese on the ground is fabulous as they walk about, digging for something to eat, talking all the while.

There are also the Tundra Swans - with their amazingly long necks - marching about in the fields - calling to each other - one keeping watch while others eat. I close my eyes and it is like riding on a magic carpet with their voices rising off the ground. We don't see as big of flocks of the Swans as we do of the Snow Geese - but they are unbelievable in any size flock. They are a very big bird, wing span of 6 to 7 feet, they can weigh up to 20 pounds and stand three feet tall. A majestic bird if ever there was one.

We see a lot of flocks of Canada Geese here too - we actually have 5 or 6 pair that nest in the ponds in our neighborhood and we get to see the babies in the spring, along with the mallards that nest there also. There is a migration of Brandt that comes through in the spring and a town north of us has a festival that they hope coincides with the migration. We've only seen one migration of the Brandt - though we have seen migrations of several species of waterfowl.

Ben riding in my Canada Goose Planter - one of his favorite toys - this picture was taken almost a year ago. A great photo to go along with eagles, swans and geese.


Sharyn said...

Wow...sisters separated at birth I think... Sharyn/KalamaQuilts

julieQ said...

Oh, thank you sharing these pictures! I absolutely love flocks of birds, especially the geese...lovely!

Teresa said...

I so enjoyed seeing your pictures and you comments. Sites like this I have never seen. It all sounds so amazing.

Julie said...

What a treat - to see all those goldfinches. We get a few in the summer but never a flock, and never in winter.

I was surprised to see you have red-wing blackbirds. They are a sure sign of spring for me in ND. We used to have a small wooded grove in my village and they would congregate there and sing so beautifully.

I have never seen an eagle even tho they nest along the Missouri.

Betweens said...

We sent you the finches/redwing black birds from Canada..LOL I am amazed at your wonderful view..I would be estatic to see all the snow geese they are not as common here.. the noise must have been deafening!! to see the wonders of nature in your own back yard!!

lila said...

Wonderful to visit with the birds!
We have eagle watching on a lake near here too....I have not gone to see them.
Several local places have aviaries and it is so much fun to watch the beautiful little birds!

Dorothy said...

Thankyou for sharing those wonderful photos JoAnn. To see all those Snow Geese must be incredible!

Chris said...

I'm enjoying your blog. We will not see the red winged black birds until March 15th. Until then it is very quiet here. They herald the start of springtime at our farm.