The weather in Hutchinson County has been particularly ugly for the past week. The Monday we came back from the coast was very windy–there were gusts up to 60 miles an hour. The dust was so bad that there was a multi-car pileup on 287 north of Childress that closed both the north and southbound lanes. We’ve had two more days of similar winds since then. There was a little rain a couple of days ago but the wind Tuesday and today dried it up. Tuesday you couldn’t see the carbon black plants from the hospital for all the dust. (for those that don’t know me, I work as a paramedic at the small local hospital. The hospital is built on a fairly high hill and the carbon plants are about a mile to the northwest.)
I did go out to Meredith this morning and for the first time since mid-November I didn’t see any of the Bald Eagles. I don’t know if they just went somewhere else to hunt of if they have headed back north. I hope they haven’t migrated yet, but with the weather like it’s been I couldn’t blame them. I did see the American White Pelicans hunkered down on their sandbar. There were also about 8 or so Double Crested Cormorants sharing the same bar.
At Spring Canyon there were 4 Killdeer that were quite excited about something–a lot of screeching and running around, but I’m not sure what it was about. They could be starting their breeding season, but I don’t really know. The Pied-billed Grebe that has been there all winter had moved from the Stillin Basin to one of the smaller ponds. It’s a little unusual for them to winter this far north, but we’ve had a pretty mild winter the last few years. He’s pretty cool to watch–Pied-bill Grebes have fairly solid bones and can partially deflate their air sac and can submerge slowly, almost like a submarine, until only their heads are above the water.
The most avian activity I’ve seen for the last week has been at my feeders here at home. A flock of 25-30 Red-winged Blackbirds has discovered my sunflower seeds and visit daily. The House Finches and American Goldfinches are still coming and the colors of both are getting quite vibrant. With all the jostling there is a lot of seeds knocked to the ground and at times there are nearly a hundred birds on the ground, at the feeders, and perched in the trees waiting their turns. I fill the feeders twice a day. Between the birds, the cats, and the kids I spend a lot of money feeding critters.