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Nature in it's glory

Nature in it's glory

Feb 5, 2011

Winged Nomads: Febuary's delight

Typically January and February are the coldest months of the year here in Alberta, however, we have had unusually warm and sunny weather recently, which made me a very happy camper indeed.  In fact, I couldn't wait to get out and go for a walk.  However, this is also the time of year, when it is dark when I leave for work and dark again when I return, and I for one do not find walking in the dark to be much fun, since there is so little to see.  Because of this, I was praying that the weather would hold until my day off.  Which it did, although I waited until late afternoon, in hopes of going out in sunshine, since that is when the sun had been coming out and sunlight makes for better photos.  However it was the insistent call of a Raven coming through my kitchen window that got me moving, not the sun's shine.
Flock of Bohemian Waxwings
I decided not to go too far on this outing because, although it was warm, the sky was overcast and I didn't want to risk getting my camera equipment wet.  So I headed for the little forest near my house and before I  got within a couple of blocks of the forest, the voices of many birds made their presence known.  I have never heard the voices of so many birds all at once, especially when the voices are so unfamiliar.  Needless to say I didn't doddle. 

When I reached the forest I was briefly distracted by the same Raven I had heard, but the bird calls were so loud, sounded of hundreds, and were so very unusual that I simply couldn't resist hurrying on.  It turns out I not only had to circle the wood, but also needed to walk into it's heart in order to witness the wonder of so many busy wings and song.   To do that I had to wade through snow that was well above my ankles in depth, duck under low branches and tree trunks, and climb over fallen logs, but it was all worth the effort.
Bohemian Waxwings in flight
It was simply amazing how many birds were in the center of this little forest, and they kept coming.  They were flying in in small flocks and large, all merging into one huge flock that alternated between coming to rest in one tree top or another, or taking off.   These birds were greeting each other in a loud chorus of high, shrill trills, but rather than being irritating, the noise these birds were generating was curiously soothing and pleasant and so I was immediately and absolutely delighted, as well as enchanted.

Naturally, since I had several sightings of Cedar Waxwings last year I have heard of Bohemian Waxwings.  In fact, I remember wishing I could see Bohemian Waxwings so that I could become visually familiar with the differences between the two bird species.  However, I had yet to see Bohemian Waxwings and didn't realize I was looking at them until I got home to take a closer look at my photos.

Bohemian Waxwing Flock perched
As it turns out, I was not as prepared for this outing as I thought, or even as I would have wished to be when I headed out.  The battery in my good camera, as well as the back up battery were both dead.  But this has happened to me before, so I am in the habit of carrying a back up camera, which unfortunately does not reach the same distance, nor produce the quality of pictures I would have liked for such an outing.  It is always preferable to get any picture over getting none however, and so, as you can see, I did get pictures and consider myself fortunate that I did.

Bohemian Waxwings
Flock of Bohemian Waxwings close

If you click to enlarge these last two photos, above, which I cropped for you, you will see several birds with their crest up.  All the waxwing species have a crest.  Bohemian Waxwings are gray in color however, not the cinnamon brown of the Cedar Waxwing.  This combined with the overcast winter sky behind them unfortunately doesn't allow for a very good view of the bird itself but I didn't get a chance to get closer in order to get better shots.

Merlin rolling into stoop
 My wondrous encounter with this bird species came to an abrupt end when a Merlin suddenly swooped in amongst them.  Naturally they did what most sensible creatures would do, and scattered for parts unknown, leaving me with the sincere hope that I will get another chance to photograph these birds again before long.



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