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Nature in it's glory

Nature in it's glory

Nov 28, 2012

A winter witch, a mystery flock, and an absence of local birds

Winter witch
The very first thing that caught my eye as I followed a flock of birds into a part of the neighborhood I hadn't yet explored, was this winter witch.  Perhaps she is responsible for producing the icy winds we had today, which made it feel twice as cold as it really was.  Well, ok maybe not, but I wonder if I could blame her for the skittishness of this new and mysterious flock of birds we have in the neighborhood.  They appear to be all black but it is hard to tell since every time I see them they are in silhouette against a cloudy and gloomy sky.
A birding mystery flock
Unidentified flock of birds

The first time I saw them, there were only four at the end of my drive way and I didn't have time to stop and take photos.  Since then the flock seems to have grown to several dozen.  I have seen them almost every day, usually when I'm headed off to work, so today I decided to make a serious effort to get some photos for ID.

However, no sooner did I get within twenty or thirty feet of the tree they were perched in and they'd all take off in a single wave. I spent so much time tracking them around the neighborhood that the winter witch bit my toes, or maybe that was Jack frost.

I decided to admit defeat for now, but I couldn't resist checking out the little forest while I was out, since it was on the way home anyway.

Winter colors and snowfall
So I deliberately turned my back on that flock of birds, turning right at a beautiful birch tree on the way, knowing I would see that flock again.


The forest was strangely quiet when I arrived a little while later.  All I heard was my boots crunching over fresh snow which was kind of eerie.  I stopped often to listen for bird calls, but except for the scolding of a squirrel and the odd car driving by in the distance, I heard nothing. 

Black capped Chickadee
It wasn't until I circled the forest completely that I heard the voices of a Nuthatch and a couple of Chickadees.  Both species were very busy with the task of survival and paid me no attention at all.

Nuthatch Investigating a cavity
White breasted nuthatch
I watched them for a while before I continued on, thinking it was strange that there were so few birds about, even for this time of year.  There should have been House Sparrows, and House Finches, as well as some woodpeckers about.  At the very least I should have seen some Blue Jays or Magpies, but the only other bird's voice I heard briefly was that of a lone Bohemian Waxing way up in the tree tops.  Perhaps the witch teamed up with Jack frost to send even these birds to warmer climes, although I sincerely hope not :)



  1. I love the Winter Witch Susan!

    Perhaps there was a hawk nearby that kept the birds hidden & quiet. The ones you did see were lovely though.