It has been 11 days since I did any birding in my own backyard and neighborhood. I know that late October/early November is a good time to start looking for migrating waterfowl in our lake and ponds, and to check the Allen Creek Nature Preserve for winter visitors. On the way home from seeing the Common Loon on Afton Mountain (10/29/10), I stopped at the Hidden Creek pond - a good place to see ducks in the afternoon. The crunching on fallen leaves with every step caused a flutter in the pond, and a small flock of Mallards and a Great Blue Heron flew to the other end of the pond. A pair of Wood Ducks scurried for cover under overhanging branches on the far side. I headed home and saw a large flock of Canada Geese and another Great Blue Heron on Sawmill Creek pond #4.
It was very cold this morning (10/30/10). When I left the house at 8:50, the temperature was 34 degrees, but not much wind. I was wearing five layers - t-shirt, long sleeve shirt, lightweight hooded sweatshirt, lightweight jacket, and my photo vest - this kept me warm. The warm water in Lake Monocan and nearby ponds was evaporating into the cold air, creating about six feet of fog above the water - kind of spooky. There was light frost on the ground, and the open fields and golf course had a foot or two of fog. Not too much stirring this early, but I did see American Crows, Eastern Bluebirds, Blue Jays, Song and White-throated Sparrows, American Goldfinches, Northern Cardinals, and I heard an Eastern Towhee, a Red-bellied Woodpecker, and a Pileated Woodpecker. Two Carolina Wrens were calling to ech other, and I saw one of the pair. I encountered a pair of deer in the woods. Hunting season has started and they did not want to find out what my camera was.
By 9:30 most of the fog had lifted, and I headed back to Sawmill Creek pond #3 and Lake Monocan. Crows were mobbing a juvenile Cooper's Hawk high in a tree by the pond, and then I saw and heard something that I have never seen or heard before. A Great Blue Heron flew high into the trees, right at the crows, and honked at them as it passed by. It was as if the heron was coming to the hawk's rescue. Of course, the crows were not phased at all by this, and continued to harass the hawk until it flew away with the crows in pursuit. First time I have ever heard a Great Blue Heron.
juvenile Cooper's Hawk
juvenile Cooper's Hawk
Great Blue Heron
At Lake Monocan there was a large flock of Cedar Waxwings, and a Kingfisher, and then I saw Tufted Titmice and Carolina Chickadees as I headed home.