SC Reptiles and Amphibians


December 2010

Gene's Notes:

Ocoee Springs at morning December 26th

December has been colder than we have grown accustomed recently. At times, daily low temperatures lingered near 10F for several days. I don't think we had any day that did have a high above freezing. There was even a significant snow event starting on Christmas evening. This event was peculiar for our immediate area, for temperatures were warmer than surrounding areas. We are usually 3 to 5 degrees colder, but the reverse occurred during this event. The result was we received only an inch of snow. Surrounding areas received 2 or more inches. By the next afternoon, most of our snow was gone.

December has been our "Month of the Bird." I started putting out bird seed on some flat surfaces around the barn. I was hoping to have some uncommon visitors which I could photograph. I got a rare bird for South Carolina.

I first saw the bird on the afternoon of December 6th after attending a monthly seminar. It was easy to recognize that this was a new bird for me. I took pictures and made an identification, Harris's Sparrow, Zonotrichia querula (right). I told my son, Win, about the bird and told him I understood it was unusual for SC. Win emailed one of his brothers-in-law, who told his brother, a well-known birder now living in Colorado. Later, I corresponded with the Colorado brother-in-law who informed me that sightings of this sparrow were indeed rare for SC. I told him that he could let other birders know of the sighting.

I do not consider myself a birder, just an avid photographer of local birds. However, during this month I have had the pleasure to meet several dozen avid birders who have visited to see the Harris's Sparrow. Birders have come from SC, NC, GA, TN, and VA.

The sparrow has stayed onsite for the remainder of the month.

Harris's Sparrow

Most all of my wildlife observations for December have been of birds. In addition to the Harris's Sparrow, I was able to ID and photograph Savannah and Fox Sparrows. Harrier Hawks have continued to hunt, almost daily, in the fields on the farm (below, left). A Barred Owl has also hunted the fields during daylight, which allowed me to make good photographs of it (below, right).

Harrier Hawk

Barred Owl

January 09, 2011
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