Today and yesterday, 2.19.17 - 2.20.17, have officially kicked off my first real visits to my "sit spot" (required for all adventure ed students at PSU) and commutes around campus armed with my bird rig, ready for the warmer-weather inclined birds.
Observations from the Wolf Pine @ Fox Park:
Snowshoed into Fox Park around 2:15 on Sunday, 2.19.17.
Weather: After repeated heavy snow falls, Sunday was the first day solidly above freezing- thus a large amount of dripping and snow-condensing was happening. My wolf pine was in a bit of a freezing puddle, with ~2 feet of snow accumulation surrounding its base. High pressure day, bluish-grey skies and scattered wispy clouds. Light breeze, and fairly quiet.
Upon quieting myself and my raucous snow-hoverboards, it became apparent how few birds and squirrels were about. I could hear "whispers" and chips from passerines, but they sounded far away, likely to be lower on the hill, near the squishy earth and faux-pond. Squirrels maybe rustled a branch or two during my sit- note the trees where about half evergreen and probably not a food source for these little mammals. These trees would, however, provide good coverage from avian predators... I wonder if the squirrels have thought of that.
Perhaps the surrounding homes and intermittent (not on Sunday) construction sounds provided a safer space park wide. Owls and to a lesser extent hawks are irked to no end by these sounds and regular but unpredictable human activity. I have observed elsewhere in MA owls are not put off by circadian dog walkers at all; in fact, I would glean most of my "big bird" info from the unperturbed 2 - 3 times a day dog walkers of my neighborhood. Great horned families, bald eagles, and belted kingfisher pairs could care less about 2 dozen or more dogs pass under their homes a day, but the moment a motor boat, police cars, or loud parties occurred these unbelievable species would vanish. I make this digression because this is a college town, and the park is surrounded by active dwellings of different sorts, including development sites. THUS: there were essentially no rodents/lagomorphs/etc. (easily findable ones that is)
Speaking of which, the tracks were tough to figure out. Heavy dogs? Yes. beyond that, the melting snow and dripping was creating a fairly non-descript blanket over any crazy prints.
I noticed remarkable BIG woodpecker activity, i.e. Pileated and Red Bellied/flicker- especially on my way out of the park. Holy smokes are the pileated OCD around here!
Also Note the intersting spiraling growth pattern on this Wolf Pine limb. It is long dead, but appears and felt denser than "ye average" pine tree. ??
I plan to get back to my spot ASAP for more warm weather observations. I believe this is the forecast all week!
BONUS WINTER BIRDS FROM MY COMMUTE THIS MORNING:
A loud house finch and a lovely Bohemian waxwing.