Friday, January 4, 2013

Oatka Creek Park • January 4

Eastern Bluebird. The bluebird flock in the park this winter numbers about ten individuals. I have been hearing and seeing them consistently since the end of December. Today I found them along the southern bank of the creek, sheltering from the wind and taking an occasional drink.

Eastern Bluebird. Perhaps because of the combination of red and blue, these birds seem to stand out against the winter backdrop even more than Blue Jays or cardinals.

Common Muskrat. I had just given up on unsuccessfully chasing a Great Blue Heron for a picture today after having seen it three times along the creek. I looked down in the water and a muskrat was swimming close at hand! This would be one of the best photo-ops I've even had of this animal.

Common Muskrat. Then it decided it wanted to look at me! It stopped swimming and turned to given me a good, long visual inspection before finally diving out of sight.

Common Muskrat. There are mounds upstream of the bridge along the creek that I had assumed were beaver mounds. (There are signs of beavers felling trees all along the creek banks.) However, muskrats make (smaller) mounds, too. Perhaps I need to investigate them a bit more closely.

Eastern Bluebird. One my way back along the creek I encountered the bluebirds again. They were taking sips from the creek.

Eastern Bluebird. It has been commented that heated bird baths are bad things because birds will bath on days with temperatures below zero and then their wings will ice up once they leave the bath. Others say this is nonsense and that birds have enough common sense not to do such a potentially fatal thing. Today the temperatures were hovering just below freezing. As I watched, I noticed that the bluebirds were very careful to drink without otherwise getting wet. I think the wings icing up story is just urban legend.