This afternoon I took a break from dissertating to walk the woods along the western edge of the field behind the office. Very few birds around, I was begining to wonder if Sartre had scared them all away, when I discovered that he had, in the form of an immature female Sharp-shinned Hawk, sitting in a tree. Those sparrows and chickadees don't like being out in the open with one of these birds around. First they catch them in their gaze, then they catch them! After I got too close, the hawk flew away, and all the little birds came out and started foraging in the open again. An amazing little chain of events.
The only other real birds I saw today were 1085 Common Mergansers, along with two Ruddy Ducks, thousands of Canada Goose, and a couple dozen gulls of several species at Peace Valley Park on my way to the office this morning. Fun to see huge rafts of mergansers moving in the same direction and diving for fish in the lake. I'm used to seeing hundreds of Ruddy Ducks during winter in Texas, but here the are harder to come by--the pair of Ruddy's today were the first I've seen all winter.