December 16, 2012
December 16, 2012
Typically Common Loons are long gone from the Hudson-Mohawk area by the time Christmas Counts roll around. This year however, with the mild conditions, water remained open on many of the lakes and reservoirs, keeping the Loons happy much later than normal. In early January we had several cold days, with temperatures at night in the City of Albany at or below 0 F, many of the outlying areas between -5 and -20 F, meant a rapid freeze up of water. I stopped by Cornell Park in New Baltimore (Greene Co. NY) and was surprised to see a Common Loon on the Hudson River. Loons typically don’t like moving water (like rivers), but given the rapid freeze up of the Lakes, this bird was no doubt forced to the River. Making the situation even more interesting was the fact that huge ice sheets were moving down river. There was a real danager of this Loon getting trapped by Ice, but it also pushed the bird very close to shore where I was standing, allowing me some of the most personal views and photographs of this species I normally only see at a distance through a scope.
I returned later in the day, to find that entire area choked with Ice, no open water at all. But I didn’t see the Loon either, so hopefully he made it further south towards the coast.
The Hermit Thrush is one of the hardiest Thrushes in its family, prefering to winter in the U.S. as far North as New England, eeking out a survival among the native and ornamental berries. They are typcially found in larger flocks of other birds such as American Robin or White-throated Sparrows. Recently at Vosburgh’s Marsh in Greene County, NY, I “spished” at a group of sparrows in the underbrush and the first bird to pop out was a Hermit Thrush. Given how mild and snowless the winter has been thus far, I was not surprised to see one at this location (a spot nortorius for half-hardies). I was more surprised however to see it sit still long enough for me to photograph him/her. With the rest of the world a dead brown and gray color, the rufous on the tail looked like it was blazing when I saw the bird in real life. Sometimes, no matter how good a photo is, nothing beats seeing a bird with your own eyes.