23 March 2015 Cayuga, ON. With an absolutely clear calendar I foresaw a day in which I could seek some spring-arrival Tundra Swans and other waterfowl usually associated with the first open water. But the temperatures dropped precipitously last night and, although bright and sunny, it was cold today and a brisk north wind only made things worse. I had little appetite for standing around peering at distant ducks under such conditions; there are times when I’ll willingly do so – but not today.
I visited our local hawk-watch where three shivering and cheerless souls, stood scanning an empty sky. I like hawk-watching under certain conditions: an abundance of birds and moderate temperatures being foremost; I left and headed for the bird observatory where I spend so much time in spring and fall.
Not far from the bird observatory I disturbed a pair of Turkey Vultures who had found the corpse of a raccoon; a satisfying meal I imagine. They flew heavily to a nearby shed and sat disconsolately waiting for me to leave. Anticipating a good photo opportunity, instead I parked in a convenient spot and waited for them to revisit their breakfast before it got cold. Evidently it wasn’t that important to them for after a few minutes they left for a little exercise, a flap around the neighbourhood. I took just a couple of shots, this one ruffling its feathers just before take off.
At the bird observatory, I bundled up and walked around my spring and fall census route compiling an interesting list of birds, including three petulant Killdeer and a Red-tailed Hawk driving a one-year-old Bald Eagle away from the hawk’s chosen nest site. Two male Wood Ducks flew past me following the river upstream with a flock of six male Mallards close behind. The Wood Ducks were squealing, as they do, like frightened piglets, a rather disappointing sound from a bird, which, in every other way, is thoroughly endearing.
Chilled and eyes streaming, I left knowing that warmer weather is really not very far away and quite happy with my day’s sightings. Especially with the Turkey Vultures, my slightly macabre Birds of the Day.