I spent a significant portion of this weekend outside, which has been wonderful. Yesterday, it wasn't really ideal weather - snow flurries and wind. But I was antsy to get outside, so I just dressed for it and did about a 3-4 mile hike along the creek and part of Lake Nokomis. I hadn't gone out specifically to bird, but I can't not look for birds when I'm out walking. The first birds of interest were a couple of red-breasted mergansers
on the lake. The second bird of interest was a little brown bird I spotted near where I get off the trail to head back to my house. It was teeny, so I momentarily thought 'wren?'. Then his little red crest shot up out of the top of his head, and I realized he was a male ruby-crowned kinglet
Today I had a volunteer shift at the parrot sanctuary in the morning, but it was gorgeous out. We managed to finish up our shift a little bit early, so after hanging out with my birds for a bit I went out to hike and bird in a couple of places in the south metro. As I was driving past Diamond Lake, on my way to I-35W, I noticed a lot of birds on the lake and an older couple with a spotting scope set up with a tripod. I decided to stop and take a look myself. Most people in the birding community are really friendly and happy to share their finds with other birders. It doesn't hurt that I'm way younger than most other birders, and it probably also doesn't hurt that I'm female. In any case, the couple with the spotting scope were super nice and trained their scope on all the different types of birds on the lake so I could get a better look at them. There were common loons
, more red-breasted mergansers, hooded mergansers
, common mergansers
, and a bufflehead
After looking at that lake, I headed over to the wildlife refuge near the airport to go see if there was any activity around an eagle's nest that is there. I spotted one immature eagle (I'm guessing s/he's about 1 year old) near the nest. Other than the nest, the coolest birds I spotted there were a pair of blue-winged teals
. This is not an uncommon bird, and yet this was the first time I'd spotted and positively ID'd one. Also, when I was walking back along the trail, a lady stopped me and asked if I knew whether 'the huge thing in the trees' was an eagle nest. When I replied in the affirmative, she told her son (who looked about 10 or 11). It took him a little while to spot it, but it elicited a really enthusiastic "oh, wow!" from the kid. Believe it or not, I actually hated being dragged all over the place to look for birds when I was a kid. My siblings and I had a running joke about our parents always wanting to go look at 'pretty little bays' when we were on vacation, and to us all of the pretty little bays looked pretty much alike. So I was happy to be able to inject a little bit of excitement into the kid's outing with his parents. After that hike, I headed over to Hyland Lake Park Reserve, an area that I hiked and birded in a lot last summer and fall. Most of the birds on the largest lake were too far away for me to id, even with binoculars. But I know I did see some hooded mergansers, wood ducks, and mallard ducks. At one of the lakes, I spotted an old geezer with a spotting scope, and asked him if he'd picked up anything interesting in it. When he turned around, I realized it was a camera with a long lens, rather than a scope. He proceeded to talk my ear off about the duck he was looking at (a mallard, so not anything all that interesting to me), and wanted to tell me about his 57 pairs of binoculars. So sometimes it is a drawback that birders are super friendly. The only other things I saw of note were an egret and some brown creepers. There was word of there being a great-horned owl nest at this reserve - with a fuzzy little owlet on it even! But I was unable to locate it. It is supposed to be another gorgeous day tomorrow, so I may go look for it again after work tomrrow.