a bit nippy

1.7.21 ~ song sparrow, Eastern Point

The song sparrow, who knows how brief and lovely life is, says, “Sweet, sweet, sweet interlude; sweet, sweet, sweet interlude.
~ E. B. White
(Charlotte’s Web)

1.7.21 ~ brants in Thames River estuary

Thursday’s afternoon walk was a bit nippy. (We thought it might be slightly warmer than our usual morning walk. It was, but still, my fingers froze. Maybe two layers of gloves in the future… Maybe stop trying to take so many pictures…) I counted five song sparrows flitting about near the thicket and sea wall. I left them a few seeds.

And we saw a huge flock of brants on the lawn. Suddenly they took off en masse to fly a short distance and alight on the river. (Attemped in-flight photos were all blurry.) If you want to hear the sound they made while flying there’s an audio clip at the bottom right side of this webpage: brant sound. It’s very different than the honking sounds Canada geese make.

Maybe they’re here for the eelgrass and will then move on to greener “pastures.” I can only imagine how much of it such a huge flock consumes in a few days.

1.7.21 ~ Canada geese in Beach Pond

Geese are friends with no one, they badmouth everybody and everything. But they are companionable once you get used to their ingratitude and false accusations.
~ E. B. White
(Charlotte’s Web)

38 thoughts on “a bit nippy”

    1. Thank you, Peggy. I have to admit, now that I’m more aware of birds I’m looking forward to the spring and a little more variety on the water! 🙂

  1. We certainly must remember to bring our gloves! I took pics of ducks and waterfront on Thursday in our nearby “big city” and forgot those essentials. You got some good closeups, once again, Barbara.

    1. Thank you, Kathy. Well, you also got some great pictures in spite of your freezing fingers! I had some next-to-useless thin gloves on but was annoyed with myself for forgetting the Thinsulate gloves that had worked so well on another outing.

    1. You know, I’ve been told before that mittens are warmer than gloves but I guess I’m stubborn about taking that advice. 🙂 The first time I saw brants at our beach was in January 2018 and I did a double-take, never having seen one before. Happy to introduce them to you!

    1. Thank you, Ally! I laughed so hard thinking about the brants honking with an accent. 😂 I’m not sure where they came from but they do seem to be making a home here.

  2. Brants are new to me as well. They are a beautiful bird, aren’t they? The second batch looks so much like Canada geese, but not quite. There is a bird called a cackling goose, also unfamiliar to me. Could it be that? We only have Canada geese, the Great Lakes Race that doesn’t migrate. They just fly around in circles and poop everywhere. yuck.

    1. The brants are beautiful, and smaller, too. That was the first thing I noticed about them from a distance, that they were too small to be Canada geese. I looked up cackling geese and don’t think they match my picture. The cacklings have an extra dab of white at the bottom of their necks that these Canadians don’t have. Also we aren’t in their range. All About Birds says that the cackling is slightly larger than a brant, and smaller than most Canada geese. Our Canadas don’t migrate, either. They fly back and forth between the river, the ponds, the sound and the coves. Years ago, the nearby golf club kept a dog to keep chasing the geese off the course…

  3. You must have quite a lens to get such close shots. I don’t have a good solution to the glove issue since you need free fingers to take pictures a lot of the time. The things we do to get good shots!

    1. I have a Canon PowerShot SX60 HS camera ~ the optical zoom lens goes way in or way out, although sometimes it takes it sweet time focusing after I zoom in or out. Sometimes I miss my old Canon with its exchangeable lenses…

      1. I’m still using my Canon DSLR with its lovely lenses when I purposefully go out to take pictures. And then sometimes I just snap a pic with my phone. I need to get the newer DSLR from Canon that lets you post to Instagram right from the camera!

        1. Wow — I never heard of posting to anything right from the camera! But I am all-things-technically challenged and would probably never be able to master the skill. My son keeps this blog functioning, and my husband keeps the camera functioning and transfers the pictures to my laptop. Not sure if I could keep it going without them. 🙂 (I’m not on Instagram.)

  4. I love the quotes from Charlotte’s Web, especially the part which says, ‘companionable once you get used to their ingratitude and false accusations’. At least you know where you stand with them! 😉
    Beautiful photos, and thank you for exposing your hands to the cold to take them, to share. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Joanne! I’m happy you enjoyed the E. B. White quotes. 🙂 Canada geese certainly match up to his description with their ungrateful hissing when one offers them food. They would readily bite the hands that feed them I fear! As soon as I arrive on the scene they start up with their vocal accusations. 😉 The brants seem to be much less irritable!

      1. I must be slow on the uptake – it has just occurred to me that your post title refers to not only the weather! Geese do have a reputation for perhaps not being the most agreeable creatures, but I find the scene of a gaggle of geese walking along together, as they do, very comforting.

        1. Well, I must be slow, too! 🙂 The idea of the geese being a bit nippy, too, never crossed my mind, although it would have been great to take credit for the connection. I agree, a gaggle of geese walking along together is a very bucolic scene, especially if they have some little ones in tow.

  5. I’ve never heard of brants, but I love the sparrows. Ours are especially talkative, it seems, and that leads me to hope for an early spring. I know, we’re barely into winter, but already I’m weary of the gray days … and the cold!

    1. I had never heard of brants either until three years ago when a small flock showed up on our beach. This flock was a lot bigger than that first one. I usually love winter but I’m done with it this year. It’s only snowed once so there’s been nothing to break up these gray days. Looking forward to following these sparrows into the spring, now that I know where they live. 🙂

  6. Lovely captures, Barbara! I’ve yet to capture a Brant. When I’ve heard of a sighting of one amongst a flock of Canada Geese around the Chesapeake Bay, I could never spot it when I went to see. One of these days! 😉

    1. Thank you, Donna! With the luck you’ve been having lately I’m sure it won’t be too long before you capture a brant! 🙂 Interesting that they mix with the Canada geese flocks in your area — up here they keep to separate bodies of water.

      1. It is usually just a rare single Brant sighting at a time. One that somehow got off it’s migration route and hooked up with other geese flocks for safety in numbers. We’ve had the same scenario with White-fronted Geese, a single will show up in our large Canada and Snow Geese winter flocks. I’ve still not gotten that one either. 😉

        1. I never heard of a white-fronted goose before, and now looking at a range map I see we don’t have them here. I think we do have snow geese but I haven’t spotted one yet. A recent article in National Geographic explores why some Canada geese migrate while others don’t. Some might stay in one place for years but then start migrating if their nest gets disturbed. There’s so much to learn about bird migration. Happy picture hunting!

  7. E.B. White’s poetic stanza startles in its simplicity and yet deep philosophy. We’re all here for such a short time, and yet many times we begrudge that time, instead of breathing in “how sweet it is.” We (I) need this reminder from time to time. Of course I love your bird photos. Since living in NE these past six years, I’ve become so fond of our frontyard/backyard birds. That said, I lived in CA weather for 20 years. In the NE winter, when it’s 25 degrees out and my guy says, “A bit nippy” (which is one of his expressions) I get a bit angry, because to me, it’s damn cold! 🙂

    1. We all do need this reminder at times, it’s so easy to get off track and lose our sense of gratitude for the simple blessings life offers us. Seeing the little song sparrows down at the beach brings me so much joy. I have no idea how they manage in the cold. I learned that in the winter they eat the seeds of grass and weeds, and small crustaceans and mollusks. They live in a thicket between the estuary beach and a seawall. I remember how very much you dislike the cold winters! Any chance you will become a snowbird in the future? It’s supposed to warm up, well above freezing, this week. 🙂 Stay safe, Pam, enjoy your birds, and keep warm! Spring will come!

  8. Beautiful pictures Barbara and I like your pleasant encounter with the ducks and geese … you and I were both communing with waterfowl in the Winter. 🙂 I have not seen those type of ducks before and they remind me of Canvasback Ducks a little. The sound those Brants make is sure unusual. So you could hear them before you see them. I like your regal-looking geese too. I bought a pair of Isotoner gloves which fit so nice and sleek to my hands, almost like a second skin, then bought two pair of the flip-top fingers gloves to use in the Winter. I got two different pair – one is mittens which the flap over the fingers flips back and then the other Isotoner gloves keep you warm (sort of) and the other pair are insulated with flip-back FINGERS. The latter are better for the real cold weather but are more cumbersome as they are men’s gloves and I have small hands. But our fingers sure freeze up fast don’t they? Then you just get comfortable with the fingers and the battery is running slow from the cold. Sigh.

    1. Thank you, Linda. The brants are a kind of goose, not ducks. I do wish we had more ducks around here… I think I will look into flip-top finger gloves — thanks for the suggestion! I was surprised how quickly my fingers froze that day… I don’t want to give up taking pictures now that it is cold outside. I’ve never taken so many nature pictures as I have since the pandemic started. March 21 was the first time during self-quarantine that we went out to walk in the woods for our sanity. I suspect we will still be in quarantine a year later, and hopefully not sick and still walking and taking pictures. With all our health problems it’s been a blessing to have the woods and the seashore for refuge. Tim just sent me an article on forest bathing. Although I’ve been acquainted with the concept for quite some time I was delighted he discovered it for himself. The article was written by his cardiologist for the local newspaper. I hope we will keep doing this when the pandemic is over.

      1. I read something about forest bathing too not long ago and it was in conjunction with people feeling free to get out and enjoy nature during the pandemic. I did not realize that was a goose. I thought it was a large duck like the brown ducks. I wrote the Michigan DNR on Facebook yesterday and asked if they could ID it and sent some photos, but the message went unread so I just deleted it. I don’t think we’ll be normal again this year and I read a news article tonight about how many people aren’t planning on having the vaccine, so with that big a percentage, there will not be an end to the pandemic. The odds are against normalcy, at least right now anyway. I do like the gloves, as during the Winter, I usually leave the camera in my pocket, especially on weekdays unless I see something special. I take more photos on the weekend in Winter. But the heavy regular gloves don’t work and bare fingers freeze in a matter of minutes. Do try them and they often come with separate liners you could buy. But I liked the idea of the Isotoner gloves – these are thermal with a light lining and keep my hands warm and are flexible. I got both pair of photographer’s gloves on Amazon and the Isotoner spandex gloves at the grocery store, but I just looked and they are on Amazon as well. It seems Tim is enjoying the forays judging from your photos.

        1. Not sure if you’re on Facebook but I found this bird identification group to be very helpful — I usually get an answer in a few minutes! (What’s this Bird? – American Birding Association)
          https://www.facebook.com/groups/whatsthisbird
          Let’s hope more people become willing to get the vaccine when they see others getting it without any ill effects. Tim might be able to get his sooner than me as he is over 65 and I’m not quite there yet…

          1. I’m going to note this Barbara as I am on Facebook and should have remembered it because didn’t you ID the Pine Siskin that way recently? The gray bird that Arnie (the older walker you and I have discussed) described to me, then I saw it and took a photo was a mystery. I wrote to “Birdzilla.com” as they will ID a bird – but never heard from them though. I did a reverse image search on Google and got “Flycatcher”. Arnie does not use a computer but he scoured his bird guide again and learned it was a “Northern Mockingbird” and told me the name, so I was able to find it online – side-by-side, they matched perfectly. I will remember this site.

            I have ID’d my brown ducks and will be writing about them in a paragraph in my Monday post – this is incredible … I wrote a Duck Rescue Group here in Michigan thinking they would have knowledge (since the DNR did not respond to my inquiry). They told me it is a Khaki Campbell duck – a domestic duck. They asked me to text them when I saw the pair again and they’d send a volunteer to pick them up immediately. They believe someone dumped them there and they were pets – that’s why they were so friendly. I told them how they came up to me leading the pack of Mallards and were coming onto the walking path, which has not happened before. I feel badly I didn’t advise them earlier about them, but all the ducks have been gone for a week as the Creek froze over last weekend.

            I will turn 65 in April – I hope you might be able to get your vaccines earlier due to your past health issue. I think that is one of the criteria for getting into an earlier category. At any rate, you should ask your doctor about it. I want to wait until I know the follow-up booster is available. We are slow rolling out vaccines in Michigan, so finally our Governor purchased 100,000 doses directly from the manufacturer.

          2. There are lots of Linda Schaubs on Facebook! If you’d like to connect on Facebook, too, I’m the Barbara Rodgers with the blue dragonfly. Yes, the group identified the pine siskin for me. 🙂 Just yesterday they helped me with a woodpecker — I wasn’t sure if it was a downy or a hairy. I got my answer in a minute! There was a little debate but the consensus was finally hairy. 🙂 I’m glad Arnie was able to help you identify your northern mockingbird!

            I found this about the Khaki Campbells: “a bustling, hardy little duck able to withstand cold, hot, humid, or arid climates all very well. These ducks have proven to be amazingly adaptable…” That’s probably why they managed to do so well after being dumped. I’m glad you were able to report them to the rescue group.

            As soon as they start scheduling the 65+ (right now it’s still 75+) I will ask my doctor if my conditions qualify as comorbidities. We’ve been looking for a list of what might qualify. I’m sure I will need a note from him. If I can have an appointment on the same day as Tim that would be ideal. I’m glad Connecticut is scheduling appointments so we don’t have those endless lines some other states are reporting! Patience, everyone!

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