Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Oatka Creek Park • January 2

White-tailed Deer. A buck! Though the park is filled with deer, spotting a buck, let alone having one hang around for a photo-op, is an uncommon occurrence. True, it was quite some distance away. Still, it stood out in the open and gave me a long, direct stare. It is hard to see the points to count them, but from other photos in this sequence, it may have only been a four pointer, i.e., young.

White-tailed Deer. It was only a few minutes after sunrise on an overcast morning, so the lighting for photography was pitiful! :-)

Carolina Wren. The story, as it usually goes, was not with the picture I got, but the one I missed. Just minutes before this I saw a mink swimming in the creek near where I was standing. It ducked into a thick snag of wood and debris jutting out from the bank and that was the last I saw of it. This all happened before I could raise my camera. I had noticed minutes before some fresh animal scat in the snow. From the associated small paw prints I had guessed it was fox. However, after the sighting I was thinking mink instead.

Carolina Wren. This mainly southern species does not migrate and western New York is the pretty much the northern boundary of its range. A bad winter will cause the population to crash, like it did two or three winters ago. However, they are an extremely prolific species and will produce two or three broods a year, so these birds recover fairly quickly. 

Carolina Wren. As with all overwintering bird species, these birds can survive our cold temperatures just fine if they have enough food to keep their internal heaters fueled. Cornell's Birds of North America suggests that Carolina Wrens may rely on backyard bird feeders during the winter a bit more than other bird species. (This is more of a conjecture than an established fact.) There are probably several such feeding stations associated with the houses that back up to the northern boundary of the park not far from where this picture was taken.