Sunday, January 6, 2013

First of the Year birding and more marmalade!

Id do some birding with Alan Saturday with the 1st stop being the Worcester Airport in hopes for Snow Buntings, a wishful Lapland Longspur and of course the Horned Larks.  The place would be bare the 1st time around so off we went to spot number two.

Which would be Hardwick for the reported Evening Grosbeaks and sure enough we'd hear them as soon as we got out of the car.  After a few moments of searching we'd find them but be dismayed over how skittish they appeared which made for disappointing looks as well as photos.  None the less, we were able to get half way decent binocular views of them which would make for my first official 2013 lifer and now the only other winter finch life bird I need are the Hoary Redpolls.  Woot!

  Another lousy and out of focus view!

And speaking of redpolls, it would be here we'd also get our FOY Common as well as Alan's FOY American Tree Sparrow which made for a very productive spot!

Next it would be a quick drive through the airport again where I'd be happy to get my FOY Horned Lark.  The little bugger was all by itself and skittish but we did manage to watch it for a bit as it proceeded to try and peck at the ice with its bill for something underneath which made for some interesting watching!

Next would be Wachusett Country Club were I'd get my FOY Pine Grosbeak and have a sigh of relief as it's nice to have both grosbeaks checked off my list for the year so I won't have to chase them next winter considering how scarce they can be especially the Pine that's NEVER a guarantee.

The next stop would be off Route 140 of the Wachusett Reservoir for ducks.  There are pockets of ice here and there including the one above but lots of open water making this a "hot spot" for ducks this time of the year!

And we'd be very happy to have some Scaup fairly close to the shore which made for some really nice scope looks of the many Greater and few Lesser Scaup mixed in for good measure and both of these would be FOY's.  We'd also get both Goldeneye and all three common gulls which would make for another productive stop.  I should note I'm really loving this strategic birding this time of the year when I'm known to hibernate.  Saturday's weather was wonderful though and was able to get a lot of birds checked off my list which made for a wonderful morning.

I'd then head home and do some cooking and work on another bird list of mine for the year which is my "booze" bird list.  My goal is to sample as much alcohol as I can that's bird related with a special focus on beer and wine of course but will consider spirits if that spirit is named after or related in anyway to a prized bird.  The first on my list is what I believe to be a Snow Goose with this Mild Winter beer.  While the beer looks dark it wasn't at all heavy.  I do have to admit I was expecting something a little more flavorful and think I'm just spoiled with my darker beers after sampling all of the Smuttynose brands which are all out of this world.

The next beer would be Red Tail, Woot!!  Let me tell you I had high expectations for this brew considering the bird but would once again be let down as it wasn't as bold as I thought it should be.  I'm now on the hunt for the same brewers Peregrine Falcon ale so keep you eyes open for future posts!  ;-)

Fueled by beer and crackers I'd get a head start on my bread which would be done by hand vs. the bread machine as one of my new goals for the year is mastering the art of artisan bread making.  I'd make my batch up and put in the fridge to let it rise in the morning for my 1st ever baguettes.

I'd be thrilled to be able to sleep in this morning and wake up after the sun rose where my morning visitors were all ready around eating breakfast and chatting about which made for a nice way to wake up.   They'd be around the entire time I cooked Sunday morning including a Common Redpoll!!  Bummed it only stuck around for a few minutes and would be gone before I thought of the camera and has not come back since but I'll take it none the less for my yard list!

The next order of business would be getting my Texas Rio Red Grapefruit ready for preserving for some grapefruit, jalapeno pepper marmalade!

The overnight soak to help off set some of the bitterness of the rind.

Bread dough rising.  Well not really, but I'll get to that in a bit.  I'd be up to my elbows in grated carrots for a carrot salad to last me the week when my cell phone would ring and it would be Alan telling me the skittish Gadwall was nearby in Sutton so of course I'd drop what I was doing and get dressed in a hurry for the bird hoping I wouldn't see anyone as I was covered in both carrots and flour!

Sigh, the best photo I could manage and now you all know why I'm so fond of taking pictures of food lately, at least it sits still and isn't covered by trees!  Super sweet FOY and special thanks to Alan again as I never got this bird in 2012!

Back home to finish my carrot salad which I would dress with some olive oil, meyer lemon and tangerine white vinegar I made last week.  So tasty and it lasts all week making for a nice side dish for the week with dinner or even snacks for that matter!

Dinner for the next few days to use some of the organic turkey I was able to score last month so made some sauce and meatballs to go with pasta.

And of course I had to sample it to make sure it wasn't poison!

And next would be the most time consuming project of the day which was my marmalade.  This is what my kitchen looks like BEFORE I get everything into the canner.  As you can see newspaper is a Godsent!

And the after.  I have to say it came out delicious (picture a fresh grapefruit you eat with nothing but a spoon and a bit of sugar!  Going forward I would have added another pepper though as there wasn't half as much heat as I wanted but it's yummy none the less!

And now for my bomb of the day the bread.  I'v relied far too long on the bread maker which has made me lazy and made me forget what it takes to create and knead a good bread.   I knew I had a disaster on my hands before even baking it but decided to do it anyways as lesson learned.  It still tastes like bread but not at all light inside which is how I like it.  Going forward I think I'm going to use the food processor for stage one and then I'll do the kneading for stage two as it's all about baby steps of course!

Anyway, it was a great way to spend the weekend and for the 1st time in a while I actually feel recharged which is much needed after the holidays and all.  Looking forward to the warmer temps this week and getting some more FOY birds if I can even during the work week as it isn't that hard this time of the year and can get many just driving in your car!

Take care all.

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