Sunday, November 25, 2007

in search of snow buntings

I am glad I have a spouse who will ask to go for a drive and look for snow buntings. That's one thing we can do, and I am glad to do.

Snow buntings, like their name suggests, are winter birds, visitors from the tundra, but I think their name more suggests their habits; a flock of them looks like a small snowstorm.

I never started seeing snow buntings until I lived here, five years now. Now I look for them every time I drive along roadsides in open areas. They act very much like horned larks, but we don't have many larks around here. Their flocks may be interspersed with a few Lapland longspurs; I have not positively ID'd one yet, but I hope to see one this year.

So we went driving at about 10 AM on a sunny morning, but we did not see any snow buntings. We did have a great look at a bald eagle, met another locally renowned hermit, husband to a former gubernatorial candidate, on the road and exchanged a casual wave, and saw a gorgeous lake stirred up by wind (wish I had brought the camera!). We also saw some geese, along with some hooded mergansers on a small lake that was strangely unfrozen. And numerous ravens.

Later, we had a re-heated Thanksgiving dinner with my stepson and his girlfriend and her son. I should be doing dishes, but they can wait. I just had to play banjo.

We're getting satellite TV tomorrow, which should be a good diversion for The Hermit, and my stepdaughter postponed her M.S. thesis defense for a while so she could be here Monday or Tuesday for a while. A neighbor who once got a ticket for shooting on our land (almost hit The Hermit) has offered to help out any way he could. Community is a good thing. :)

Oh, and we found a home for one of our outdoor kittens. My stepson and his girlfriend adopted one of them, which leaves us with a herd of one less cats around here. I would take them to a shelter, but that would only be transferring the problem.


Nature Knitter's Mom {Betty K] said...

Glad to hear The Hermit is home, it is much better to recover in familiar surroundings, I believe it goes much faster too! Sounds like going for rides is a favorite past time for recovery, it was for me. Prayers for a full recovery!
Nature Knitter's Mom [Betty K]

RuthieJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RuthieJ said...

Hi Deb,
My spouse reported to me that he thought he saw some snow buntings along a backroad down here. Sounds like my mom's hinting for a ride to look for them also, doesn't it??

Glad you got some banjo time. I hope The Hermit continues on his road to recovery at home and it's nice you have others willing to help out with everything.

momadness said...

Gosh, have been so busy lately trying to get ready for a week off from work. Seems you work tripple-hard just to get your week off. Good to hear all is going a bit better. You hang in there. Enjoy that nature; it does a body good!

Deb said...

Betty K- Thanks for the good wishes. Although it does present certain challenges, him being here at home is probably the best thing.

RuthieJ- Yep, definitely hinting. :) Although we've been skunked for snow buntings and rough legged hawks lately. But we did see a barred owl today at sunset.

Momadness- thanks. I saw a raven do a flip today in flight, and I just laughed. I needed that.

dharma bum said...

Deb - do snow buntings frequently flock up in roadside ditches and the such? The past couple years, when we've been in the northern part of the state it autumn, we've seen these flocks of tan and white birds that explode out of the ditches as we drive by. Haven't been sure what they are, but a little bit of research makes me think they could have been snow buntings? Have you ever seen that sort of behavior in them?

Hope the Hermit makes a speedy recovery. We're still thinking of all of you.

Deb said...

Dharma Bum- Those sound like snow buntings! Or maybe horned larks, but I don't see them around here. The best way to go looking for snow buntings is just driving around by open fields; they fly up from the ditches, like you described, and they look like a mini snowstorm.

Thanks for the kind thoughts. We're hanging in there.