Friday, March 26, 2010

A Fresh Start

We arrived back at the Park in early March. Excited to be returning and looking forward to this year’s season, we were greeted with brilliant sun and chilling temperatures.

Our flight into Blagoveshchensk treated us with a stunning entrance into the Amur Region. As we awoke at the end of our flight, we had a breathtaking view of the Trans-Baikal mountain range.

The cold harsh climate of winter in the Amur can be beautiful. A hoar frost settled in our first night back, covering every twig and twine.

Winter in the park is obviously very harsh and the majority of the bird species migrate south. We have a few full time resident species but there are also a few species that come from even farther north to winter at the park. Last year Common and Hoary Redpolls wintered here and were actually the most numerous bird species found within the park. This year however, we did not have any Redpolls overwinter here. But, interestingly, another winter visitor, the Pallas's Rose Finch, wintered in small numbers this year. Last year not even one was seen at the park.

A Pallas's Rose Finch found at the park this winter.

Mixed in with the Pallas's Rose Finch was the hardy year-round resident the Long-tailed Rose Finch. We expect the Pallas's Rose Finch to be heading North in the next few weeks but the Long-tailed Rose Finch is here to stay.

Winter is also a good way to catch up on what mammal species utilize the Park. We have seen many tracks of small rodents, mustelids, roe deer, and fox.

Many of the fox show their playful selves as they frolic in the sun.