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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ice, Ice, Baby!

I had the privilege of visiting friends Chris Wood and Jessie Barry in their Upstate NY haunts over my winter break. Our exploits crossed the border into Canada as well, partly for the birding there (5-figure gulls in Niagra and a Barnacle Goose in Grimsby, for example.) The other reason is that the closest American Airlines could get me to my intended destination (Rochester, NY) within 3 days of my departure from Denver was Toronto...

Anyway, we had the good fortune to base ourselves at Jessie's parents' house on the south shore of Lake Ontario for a couple of days (Thanks, Jim & Liz!!) They have the ultimate lake-watching setup- picture windows facing the lake and an awesome rail-mounted, top-down scope mount right at the window. A strong arctic cold front blasted in on our first night, and we did some serious pajama birding for a while with the comforts of hot coffee and a hot fireplace nearby. A decent lake-watch list developed including scads of Long-tailed Ducks, White-winged Scoters, and Red-breasted Mergansers flying by in adjustment to the new weather conditions.
Pajama birding at its finest...

Eventually, however, we sallied out into the gnarly weather (temps in the low teens and winds in the high 20s and 30s.) More good birds were found, but to me some of the most impressive sights were the ice formations that were plastered on the breakwaters and navigation lights at the mouths of rivers.

Winter birding on Lake Ontario: Only serious, well-dressed birders need apply.


Fantasmagorical ice at Charlotte Lighthouse (Mouth of Genesee River.) A miracle sunbeam hit the lighthouse for a minute or two- the picture doesn't begin to do it justice...


More wicked ice at the Irondequoit light

Oh, and there were birds around, too. I'm usually lucky to see a single Long-tailed Duck each year in Colorado, so I was pretty geeked to see thousands of them on the lake. The light was rough and many of the birds were distant and wary, but I still vastly improved my photo stock of this species.



10 comments:

Owlman said...

That looks like COLD birding! Awesome shots....

Bosque Bill said...

Those photos are AMAZING. Never seen anything like it. Very cool duck pics, too. Thanks for the post... can you feel your toes?

Robert Mortensen said...

I've really been enjoying the photos on your blog. That ice is pretty amazing. Nice radio spots too.

Hilke Breder said...

Your photos of the long-tailed ducks are amazing - I can only dream of getting a good photo, have had no luck so far. The ice sculptures are a marvel.

shirley said...

Wow, those ice formations are beautiful.

OpposableChums said...

I'm from New England, and I've never seen ice like that in my life. Amazing.

DaveABirding said...

Good shots all around.

dAwN said...

Holy cow..that is buuuurrrrrrr and ice..
wow..great shots!

Texas Blue Eyes said...

Just beautiful ice formations!

Kei S. said...

Nice photo SANS gloves (photo 3)! Couldn't Chris hack it without his gloves too? BRRRRRR!