Saturday, March 30, 2019

Finding The Rare Birds

In my previous post, I mentioned about the rare birds (rare in our place, that is)  that we searched for. Oh, yes, we found them!

It was hubby who actually discovered them when he went  to that biotope while I was working. The snow was so thick that he made a trail with his snow shoes for the benefit of those who would visit the place later, as news of such new sightings spread quickly among the bird enthusiasts.

The first that he saw was the Eurasian three-toed woodpecker, a lifer for him and for me later. It was so beautiful that I wanted to see it too, so I asked him to take me there one day after my work, which is just around 30 minutes drive from our city. 

Eurasian three-toed woodpecker

Before that, however, one of our friends asked hubby to take him there, and that's when he spotted a huge bird flying through the thick forest, and when they peered through the spotting scope, the bird was confirmed be a great grey owl, another lifer for hubby and me.

the woods in winter-early spring

When it was my turn to be taken there, our friend and his wife also drove there ahead. There was also another man who arrived later. We searched for the two birds. The woodpecker wasn't around, but the owl was seen leaving a tree. We waited until it would come back. When I finally saw it, the back was turned toward me, but I took a shot anyway since the back is also beautiful. Then I had to run to the other side where our friends were, but when I arrived, it had already flown to the other side of the trail, hiding somewhere.

We were about to give up and get into our car when the owl suddenly emerged from the woods and flew across the trail and perched on a tree some meters away from us. It sat there long enough for us to take a few shots. Since it was getting dark that time, I couldn't capture it clearly. This photo may not be my dream shot of an owl, but at least, I have a new life bird. That's exciting too! I learned too that there were actually two of them here, and this was the male,  smaller than the female, which is the world's largest owl in length.

Two days later, we went back there in hopes to find the owl again, so I could take better pictures. But this time, it was the three-toed woodpecker that appeared, and the owl was nowhere in sight. Isn't that great too? It was a male one pecking on a tree, not minding us at all. 

And then it flew to another tree. We followed, and got a big surprise when we saw another one, a female, on that same tree! What a bonus that was! We were so close to them as we had our cameras clicking non-stop until we had our fill.

On that second week of March, I saw two new life birds! Funny  thing is I haven't really counted how many life birds I've seen....ha-ha-ha!!! I'm just thrilled every time  I see a new one. But someday, I'll get into counting.

I'm including pictures of the same place when we visited it again on the spring equinox. We may not have seen the birds that time, but we had fun having snacks on the snow banks.

Now that spring is here, more migrating birds have come back, and I hope to find new rare birds. 

But we're also waiting for the awakening of the spring blooms.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Birding in Winter

Vernal equinox has arrived (March 20 this year), but we're still deep in snow and it keeps snowing recently. So I can say that we're still into winter birding. An extension of our winter birding, if I may add. Yes, even in winter, there are lots of birds  around here too,  many of them flock to the feeders that people maintain in their private yards.


However, hubby and I, as some of the advanced birders/photographers in our city, prefer to travel to the wild and search for the rare birds spotted by those who make the daily rounds in some local patches or biotopes for ornithological reports. These places include wide fields, frozen lakes and rivers, and old thick forests of conifers.

Since these places are mostly blanketed with layers of untouched snow, it's quite hard to get there without sinking deep into the soft snow. So we need gadgets to traverse the area that leads to our destination, such as these snow shoes. They prevent us from sinking and help keep our balance.

They're cool and lightweight!

European crested tit

One time, as we crossed a frozen river to get to an island to look for a certain woodpecker specie,  we stumbled upon this snow mobile in the middle of the river. We stopped for a picture-taking, with me sitting there and hubby as my photographer, just for the fun of it. At least, I tried to sit on a snow mobile!

blue tits

Here's one trail on this island that we visited.

In searching for a rare owl and another kind of a rare woodpecker, we had to use our snow shoes to access the woods where they stay. The snow here is so thick that it's almost impossible to make one's way into the forest, especially for those who are carrying cameras with huge lenses and mounted on equally huge and heavy tripods. But hubby fixed a trail for the other birders by treading hard on the snow and making it compact. Our friend took pictures of me and hubby as we headed to the woods.

I'll post the birds that we found during this particular trek in my future blog.

Our winter birding is not only about searching for birds, but also about being out in the wild, connecting with nature which de-stresses and rejuvenates us, having a good exercise while walking strenuously in the snow, and spending time with nature-loving friends.  It's also about appreciating and enjoying the wonders of creation that our loving Creator generously presented to us.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

All Comments Gone!

This is just to let my readers know that with the removal of Google+ from Google accounts, all the comments on my posts have also been removed.

Here's the statement from Google: "Support for Google+ comments will be turned down, and all blogs using Google+ comments will be reverted back to using Blogger comments. Unfortunately, comments posted as Google+ comments cannot be migrated to Blogger and will no longer appear on your blog."

So, dear readers, I'm so sorry that all your lovely and inspiring comments are gone. Terribly sorry! But I truly appreciated them.

With this short note, let me add a few photos to enliven this page.

Here's a scene that wowed me the moment I laid eyes on it. Three yellowhammers are chilling out on a fluffy couch high up in a spruce tree.

Last night's (Feb. 4) northern light was classified as weak, but it danced beautifully enough for a few minutes before it faded and the clouds rolled in.

This is one of my favorite winter scenes when the temperature is something like -22 degrees C, the sky is clear blue and the sun kisses the snow-rich trees.

Have a wonderful week!

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Monday, January 28, 2019

"Moonstruck!" : the Blood Moon of 2019

This is a 24-hour celestial drama with the moon as the main character.

The story begins with the setting of the moon that was just hours away from becoming a Wolf Moon.

I watched from our balcony on this extremely cold morning of January 20, starting at around 8:00 a.m.

The moon augmented more and more as it neared the horizon.

As I watched and took pictures, I noticed that the lunar disk formed ridges around its edge, as opposed to a smooth disk while up in the sky, and it truly looked like a blazing ball.

I watched until the last glow faded away.

At noon, hubby and I drove to a nearby cape for our usual photowalk. Shortly thereafter, we saw the enormous moon rising behind the trees, almost transparent and yet enchanting.

We proceeded to the sea afterward. The moon had ascended higher by the time we got there.

It sailed smoothly across the pink layer of the sky....

....toward the airplane that was getting ready for the landing.

The sky shifted colors to deep blue and purple as the moon journeyed on.

For one last time before we left the place, I took a few up-close shots of this luminary that held me spellbound and which would soon be eclipsed as it would pass through the earth's shadow.

The night advanced and deepened. At home, the moon was not visible from our side of the building. After preparing some warm winter clothes in case I had to go out of our apartment to capture the blood moon and after setting my alarm clock at 4:30 a.m., I retired for the night.

January 21 arrived. I checked through our kitchen window for the moon. Yes, it was viewable from our kitchen and balcony! I didn't have to go out after all, only to our balcony where I could set up my tripod.

The total duration of the eclipse would be 5 hours and 12 minutes, but I started to shoot from the partial eclipse, skipping the penumbral phase. I planned to shoot every 15 minutes, taking a nap in between shots. In some instances, I overslept, thus missing some of the phases.

When the partial eclipse was ending, thin clouds gathered around the lunar disk. It was still a  beautiful sight though.

I went back to sleep in the sofa while waiting for the moonset just like the other day. When I awoke, the moon was gone and broad daylight greeted my searching, sleepy eyes.

That's okay. I was satisfied with the entire drama. It was an amazing 24-hour lunar show that got me "moonstruck"!

It's a one-of-a-kind drama that silently declares the glory of the One who created it.

"He has made the moon for appointed times."
(Psalm 104:19a, Psalm 19:1)

super blood wolf moon 2019

Sometimes, birds are also bedazzled by the moon. 😊😊

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