February 6th – It’s An Ill Wind…….

Male Northern Harrier flying in to see what’s going on. -MMG

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good. This wind brought the very conditions, the lack of which I’ve been crying about for the last month: cold and snow – Snow Bunting weather. This morning when I reached the trapping site there was a flock of over 60 Snow Buntings waiting for me. They had completely cleaned up the cut corn residue from yesterday and were keen for more. No sooner had Marnie and I put down the traps and loaded them with corn then the birds were around and in them. In 3 hours we banded 60, almost tripling the number – in total – we had done so far this season. We stopped after just 3 hours because the wind was picking up even more and blowing loose snow through the traps – they act like snow fences and the snow piles up inside them hiding the corn.

A white-out obscures these hardy birds, only 30 meters away. -MMG

I ended up going back at noon and again at 3:30 to replenish the corn so that the birds would stick around. Each time there were at least 120 birds spread out over the snowy field but within 50 meters of the me and the traps. As soon as I was done, and before I reached the car just 10 meters away, they were back on the piles.

Trying to figure out why I’m not enjoying the heat of Malawi……which I usually do at this time of year. =MMG

A male Northern Harrier paid us a surprise visit this morning. It flew in to see what all the fuss was about. Birds jumping around in small cages looks pretty interesting to a predator.

Northern Harrier checking out the menu. -MMG

Facing into a strong wind and blowing drift snow, Snow Buntings and several Horned Larks (on the right) dig for cut corn. -MMG

Note the pale supercilium stripe – not your usual Horned Lark. -MMG


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