This being the day after Christmas, as is traditional in my house, I have gone birding.
See you on Monday!
I'm back. Marianne and I went to Bombay Hook in Delaware. It was a VERY strange birding day. The sky was purest blue -- and almost perfectly birdless. We saw raptors on the drive south and on the drive home -- but not a single one within the preserve. There were no eagles to be seen, which was understandable because there's a single nest there and half the time its inhabitants are elsewhere. But this may be the first time I went to Bombay Hook and didn't see a harrier. And since we normally visit in mid-week, it was astonishing how much traffic there was.
Skipping over the drifts of snow geese, the tundra swans, shovelers, buffleheads, etc., there were three unexpected sightings.
The first was a red fox, out in broad daylight, as neat and tidy as a housecat, Walking puposefully through the salt marsh. He looked briefly our way, dismissed us as not worthy his attention, returned to work. Forty paces later, he turned into the dry grasses and disappeared.
The third was a screech owl (red morph) that had taken over a bluejay box and was peering out of the opening, a horned and hemispherical puff of feathers.
The second -- and best, if you're a birder -- was an American bittern. Bitterns are among the most cryptic of birds. This one was stalking along the edge of the water, a shadow made visible by movement. When it stepped behind a plant it disappeared. When it stopped moving it disappeared. We tracked it along the shore for at least five minutes, a bird with a long, distinctive profile and, if ours was anything to go by, a most successful hunter
So I am happy and hope the same for you.