One of the things that is fun to do in the days after Christmas bird count is go look for species that I expect (or know) are around but for whatever reasons did not get reported (as far as I know) on the day of the count. I had some further motivation to get out this year, as I wanted to try and find the Wood Duck that had been seen on count day.
This morning I stopped by Indian River where the duck had been reported, but did not find it. However, I did find the bird tracks in the photos accompanying this post. They have a sort of strange look to them, as they were made (I think by Varied Thrush) in the sand before it froze, then the surface layer of sand (with tracks) was lifted up by ice as it froze. There were quite a few of these tracks in a back wash area where the and is no doubt deposited during flooding. I did pick up a Brown Creeper for count week as I was leaving the area. (I also saw a couple of Red-breasted Sapsuckers, which are nice for this time of year, but had been seen yesterday).
Later in the day the kids and I went out with Paul, who is working on a 1000 species project of his own, this year. He was keen to get birds for his project while looking for count week birds. We checked out the channel and were able to sort out some Lesser Scaups from the Greater Scaups – I don’t think the Lessers had been reported (mostly because they are hard to tell apart). A visit over to the airport turned up American Tree Sparrows and the Mountain Bluebird, which were nice birds for the year, but had been seen on Sunday. After walking over to Alice Island (where Bohemian Waxwings and robins were working on hawthorne fruits), we went back to the car and checked out Indian River to see if the Wood Duck was around. We first saw 7 Mallards and 5 Green-wing Teal (same as I had seen earlier in the day), but then Rowan said, “Is that it?” as she indicated a bird off to our right. Sure enough, it was clearly a drake Wood Duck. First winter report for Sitka (and one of less than a handful ever that I’m aware of). I spent the rest of my outside time at the river watching the bird to keep track of it so the other folks who were interested in seeing it might have a better chance if/when they arrived.
I think the temperature was technically warmer today than it had been yesterday, but it felt far more frigid. Overcast conditions prevailed by mid-morning, and it was much windier over by the airport than it had been yesterday.