Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Snow Buntings on Putney Mountain

The fog was slow to lift on Putney Mountain this morning, presenting  little chance of seeing any migrating hawks. Some Ravens announced their presence by voice but never appeared above the tree tops.  It was really quiet when suddenly, close to me, a white bird flushed out of the low thicket  that covers much of the top. I didn't get a chance to look at it. However about ten minutes later another bird flushed, again almost purely white, flying across the top to some rock outcroppings, uttering alarm calls. This time I had my camera ready when it  landed on the rock. Because of the distance the picture came out a bit fuzzy.

It was Chris Petrark's day to do the hawk migration watch. When he arrived he was able to get a good shot of the Snow Bunting. For the next half hour or so the Snow Bunting was back and forth across the top. It may have been two, but we never saw both of them together. They are agile runners, quick to disappear behind a piece of vegetation,  a  rock or in a dip in the ground.

All last winter I had been looking for Snow Buntings by following various local reports but never had any luck. And here they turn up at the most unlikely place! In my view birding is about 90% persistence and patience in the face of nothing much  happening, and 10% luck if you stick around long enough. Getting a good photo adds another factor, having the right equipment of course, but also having the camera ready, having  the right settings for the amount and type of light, and then of course luck that the lens will pick up the object without too much hunting. Sometimes you have the camera in just the right position but the bird still gets away ... and then you wait...


  1. Ohhh....lucky, lucky you! I've been watching for a Snow Bunting for two winters. Maybe this will be my year too. They are such pretty birds...


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