Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunny and Warm

It was clear and cold all night but with the clear skies, the bright sun warmed the day up nicely.  With a high of 36F there was a lot of melting, dark spots appeared all over the tundra, and puddles of water were present in the gullies.

The first highlight of the day was a northern NOWE1_3432wheatear in the yard.  It had the snow buntings upset as it flew around the house.  I was able to get a picture of it before it traveled on.  They are rare here and usually they are seen in the fall migration season.


Teena and I both took advantage of the nice weather to go out sledding to see what bird life might been seen in other parts of the delta.  She headed out in the morning and drove up to the lower Miluveach River where it flows into the Colville about 5 miles from home.  She saw several hundred white-fronted geese, either feeding in the melt areas around the river or migrating on west.  A large flock of male ptarmigan, a rough-legged hawk, and many ground squirrels were also seen on her trip.

While Teena was off birding, I did a goose migration watch over lunch hour and logged in 262 white-fronts in 12 flocks, and one small flock of 6 snow geese (first of season) moving west.  After lunch I headed up river to check out a couple islands upstream. In about three hours traveling, I added another 700+ white-fronts, 30 snow geese, and 5 tundra swans (first of season) to the waterfowl seen moving west.  Also seen on the trip was one short-eared owl (first of season), willow ptarmigan, maybe 50 ground squirrels, and 1 red fox hunting lemmings.

 RUTU_17may_3589We had one ruddy turnstone around last night and they slowly continued to trickle in all day until by 8 PM we had 12 feeding in the yard,  Of those 12, two were some of my color-banded birds from years past, one each from 2003 & 2004. 

With more warm weather in the offering and a brisk wind forecasted out of the south to south-west, we may get more unusual birds in the next few days.


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Arctic Smoke Signals by James W. Helmericks is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.