Karyn and I were spending Christmas with just ourselves this year. We had celebrated with family the day before as they all had other commitments for Christmas day.
Christmas morning presented us with some bright sunshine here in Boise. I had been hoping for some great sunshine the last few times we went out birdwatching. Today would be the day. After breakfast and entertaining the cat wit her new toys, we headed out along the Boise River for photography and bird watching. The weather was a beautiful 29 degrees (F) with little or no breeze. The sunshine was perfect for photography. As soon as we got on the river we found these Common Mergansers. (click on image to see a larger version).
Its fun to watch the Mergansers fishing. They swim upstream with their heads under the water looking for fish. A female Belted Kingfisher was fishing nearby, but I just wasn't able to get the shot I wanted. Further down the river was the first of many Great Blue Herons. This one was more than willing to pose for us.
The others were perched in trees. Three in one group and a number of individuals here and there along our 4 mile hike. We were really hoping to find some Bald Eagles today. We have struck out the last two times we have hiked the river. Today we would not be disappointed.
This was the first of at least two we would see today (we saw three, but believe one was a repeat).
Further down the trail we would find a Sharp-shinned Hawk. I would move through the brush to get a better shot, but I never put it together. The large frozen pond in front of the Hawk would prevent me from getting too close. I got some photos good enough for identification, but nothing special. The next special raptor sighting was what we thought was a couple of Rough-legged Hawks (My friends on the IBLE List have verified that these are Red-tailed Hawks instead of Rough-legged Hawks. IBLE=Idaho Birders Linked Electronically). The first bird was perched in a tree. I was taking photos when it started to fly, so I snapped a shot. I didn't actually see the second Hawk coming in to chase it from its perch.
The lower Hawk in the picture is swooping in to attack the upper bird. Its not the clearest photo, but a great action shot. The original Hawk stayed on its perch after the attack and then flew off to a nearby tree as you can see in this photo.
I accidentally clipped this shot as I snapped the photo, but I liked the rounded form as it cupped the air for lift. There were lots of other great birds out there today as well, but these were the highlights. What a great way to spend a Christmas day. I hope yours was fruitful as well. Have a great holiday!