1) We were to attend the first international Austrian-German bird blogger convention.
2) Dale wanted me to see Snowfinches. And I wanted me to see Snowfinches just as bad.
I had seen Snowfinches twice before in the Alps, once in July or August of 1987 when a handful of birds quickly flew away from me somewhere around Switzerland's Matterhorn, and in February (or January?) of 1997 in the German Allgäu, where a small flock of around 5 birds would regularly fly away from me whenever I turned up at the peak of the Fellhorn during a week's trip there.
Yes, I wanted some better looks.
The first Snowfinch we saw at Kühtai ... er ... kind of flew away from me, so it seems it's some sort of a tradition thing. But then a few birds landed at a feeder nearby, and then more and more birds showed up, and then I got some amazing looks at the birds sitting, and then hopping, and then flying. Yes, away from me again, but also towards me, around me, and above me. Not below me, but one always ought to leave out one thing in order to have a reason for coming back, so I was fine with that.
"We need to talk."
The marching bird.
I've never seen birds with such determined walking gaits. Not as goofy as the Ovenbird, but surely with a comparable mindset.
Best ... Feeder Bird ... Ever!
The Underdogs' feeding frenzy below the feeder.
And now the Eye Candy: the flock in flight.
We were there on a cloudy day, and the sky was as pale and uniformly white as the snow on the surrounding mountain slopes.
In theory this is bad. And it might be bad if you are trying to enjoy 9,999 of the world's 10,000 bird species.
But for viewing Snowfinches, this is perfect weather.
Against a white sky (or snow) the white in the birds' wings and tails merges in perfectly with the background and the Snowfinch has thus one of the most peculiar flight silhouettes I have ever seen (well, have ever partially not seen).
The following two heavily cropped images may convey part of it, but it is so astounding it needs to be seen in life to be appreciated.
Such marvelous avian wonders.