DELMARVA ALMANAC

Mild Winter In The Wild

by Dana Kester-McCabe



The mild winter we are having so far has provided some nice opportunities to get outside and see the sites.

Just before the holidays I took a trip to the Eastern Neck wildlife refuge on the upper Chesapeake near Chester River. Of course Canada geese could be seen and heard all around. I also saw some amusing mallards, a pair of swans, and a pair of ruddy ducks which are identifiable by their rudder-like tail feathers. I also saw this red bellied woodpecker. The trip ended with a spectacular sunset.

In December we took the boat a couple of miles out into the Atlantic for one last fishing trip before putting it away until next season. The temperatures were in the 60's and with almost no wind that day the water was amazing. We did not catch any fish but we saw gannets, a flock of sea ducks, and this Forster's tern taking a ride on some drift wood.

Traveling through Sinepuxent Bay we saw this little king fisher in the commercial harbor, and lots of other birds including cormorants and buffleheads. We also saw loons which are commonly seen on the water this time of year along with pie billed grebes.

Another common site are the snowies who are now here in force. Other migrating wildfowl have been arriving slowly supposedly in smaller numbers than in colder years. None the less recently I have seen widgeons and coots, gadwalls, ring necks, and redheads.

Unfortunately my bird feeder has been discovered by a couple of squirrels. They are hogging all the sunflower seeds and are even going after the thistle. Since they have driven away most of the birds I have to head out to the woods to see chickadees, titmice, mocking birds, downy woodpeckers, and other local winter birds. That's alright - I'll take any excuse to get outside this time of year...

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