Richmond Nature Park Revisited...on a very cold day.

Brrr...it was very very cold today. A record low of -17 degrees Celsius (the lowest in 40 years, says the News) and I definitely felt it, especially when I went out to Richmond Nature Park, which I had not been to since last month and felt my toes and fingers numbing as I walked around.

A House Sparrow resting in the bushes was the first bird I saw and it was all buffed up to fight off the coldness. I wonder how successful that strategy is.

As I walked past the Nature House, it was a chaos near the feeders. There were many birds trying to get a piece of something to stay alive, while other birds were just too cold to move and sat on the trees, which made it easy for me to take pictures of the birds as well as the people with massive DSLRs photographing the birds. I don't think anybody wants to take picture of a guy holding a simple point-and-shoot.

There were many species using the feeders, including Fox Sparrows (Passerella iliaca), Dark-eyed Juncos, Spotted Towhees, Black-capped Chickadees, a Downy Woodpecker (first sighting of the year), and even House Finches (another first observations of the year). There were probably other species if I paid close enough attention (without being distracted by the coldness and the beautiful DSLRs).

This Fox Sparrow (Note: the yellow lower mandible and chevron-shaped spots) was singing loudly - either to sing away the coldness or to urge me to take pictures of it. I obliged the latter.

But then a more colorful and intersting individual appeared and stole the sparrow's spotlight.

It's a House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)! What a pretty-colored bird, especially suited perfectly with the holiday season (Huckleberry Days has better pictures of the House Finches here).

Then I started taking pictures of this Fox Sparrow before it jumped onto a branch and...

...then it mooned me! Hilarious!

One of the many Spotted Towhee in the park today.

While the two people with DSLRs were taking pictures of their chickadees, I saw this Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) feeding on the suet and it turned me into a shutterbug. Downy Woodpeckers can look very similar to Hairy Woodpeckers, but Downy is much smaller and has a smaller bill relative to its head size. Beautiful birds.

Then the two people saw what I was taking pictures of and started to copy me. But then the bird flew onto a tree and flew away for good.

Another Spotted Towhee.

One of the many Black-capped Chickadees today.

I decided to leave these two people alone and go walk around. They were still at it as I leave quietly.

One of the many Dark-eyed Junco today.

The trails in the Nature Park are completely empty today, but it suited me just fine...until the coldness started to sink into my digits and made me hurry to the Nature House for some much needed warmth.

No clear sky today.

I also saw a Red-breasted Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber) inside the park when it flew onto a tree. But I didn't get a chance to photograph it. Such a shame.

While walking, I saw this strange-looking thing tangeled with the branches of a blueberry tree. It looks like a outside layer of a hornet's nest, but I am not too sure.

I also came across these bird tracks while I was walking. One great thing about snow is that it leaves evidence of the animals that stepped on it, but I wish my ornithology course back in university taught us how to identify bird tracks. But if I guess it's probably one of the more abundant species here in the park, like Spotted Towhees or Fox Sparrows.

More Fox Sparrow pictures. One great thing about the cold is that it slows down the movement of the birds and allows people like me to take better pictures (than usual).

The view as I walk past the playground.

I actually went back to the feeders to see who are still there. The photographers and their DSLRs are gone, but the common birds are still there, as well as this cute Douglas Squirrel.

I took one final picture of the feeder before I had enough and headed into the Nature House (and wait for the bus).

As I regain warmth in my fingers and toes in the Nature House, it was time to head home. Dang, it's cold outside!

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