That arctic outflow has us in its grip, but only very loosely. Temperatures hover around the freezing mark, leaving icy patches about but also wet places where the sun shines for a while. On the lake the water level must rise at night, evidenced by the suspended ice plates I often see on days like this.
With brilliant sun and cold we seem to get more birds. This Barred Owl was sitting directly above the path, unperturbed by my attention, swiveling his head as I circled round to get a better angle. He was still there when I returned an hour later, but another photographer had taken my place and no doubt filled his memory card with owl pictures.
Across the floating bridge there were the usual crowd of Mallards and this lonely Hooded Merganser.
Across the lake I had a brief look at this Cooper’s Hawk before it split in a hurry. Maybe it was hungry. They don’t sit still for long.
The lake has flooded the surrounding lowlands and in a seasonal slough behind the ring of bush that borders the lake I saw a large flock of ducks and geese. I walked through the closely cropped grass past a gaggle of grazing Canada Geese to get a closer look. Quite suddenly the flock erupted and headed to the air.
On the return leg a Bewick’s Wren was picking at the bark of a tree.
The last bird I saw was this one, a male House Finch.
During the last weeks we’ve had a lot of sunshine here, which makes for good lighting when it comes to photographing birds. I’m trying to be diligent and not venture out into nature sans camera with telephoto lens affixed. My reward has been a few good bird sightings. We made a special trip last week to seek birds in the farmland nearby, but had no luck. So we went down to the beach that faces east to the mainland and were treated to an excellent view of Mt. Baker in Washington.
Mt. Baker, Washington
Back at the lake we watched some ducks slip sliding around on a frozen section. Parts of the ice were so thing the ducks kept falling through, which was hilarious.
Ducks on ice
We’ve seen plenty of raptors lately, including one Red Tailed Hawk that had just captured its lunch – a rat. I only noticed the rat when I downloaded the pictures.
Red Tailed Hawk
I was too busy snapping to notice the tail of the rat!
a closer view of the rat
We were treated to a perfect view of a Bald Eagle one day last week, sitting in a tree right beside the path. It’s very rare to get so close to one of these; they usually sit at the top of much taller trees, generally evergreens, too.
A Cooper’s Hawk showed up, too. Sometimes I have a hard time discerning the Cooper’s from the Red Tailed.
More birds here, somewhat easier to identify:
Red Wing Blackbird
Glaucous Winged Gull
Weather = rain all week. Yesterday, however, we had a brief interlude (remember when TV did those?) of sunshine. Off for a walk around the pond – we encountered first a Red Tailed Hawk, and then a Cooper’s Hawk. The Red Tail was sitting in a huge oak, and while we watched it took off and flew down towards us. Several hundred metres on we found it again, in a smaller tree.
if only my camera could focus fast enough..
I was able to get closer the second time. The hawk stretched its claws for us.
This Cooper’s was way up in a tree, and seemed tiny compared to the Red Tail.
Typewriter Graffiti Dept
Rediscovered Poem Dept
From too much love of living
From hope and fear set free
We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods may be
That no life lives for ever
That dead men rise up never
That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea
I saw this verse in the weekend paper, attached to an obituary. Something about it was familiar, and I remembered my father would occasionally recite these words. The line “dead men rise up never” must have burrowed into my brain. Perhaps my father told this to me at bedtime, thinking it was appropriate for a child to hear before sleeping. He was odd that way.
It’s part of a poem by AC Swinburne, The Garden of Proserpine. In university we never read Swinburne, who must have been long out of fashion for being lyrical. We read Waiting for Godot, and The Hollow Men, however, which seemed to cover similar ideas in more avant-garde terms. My bet’s on Swinburne.
Owl and a Cooper’s Hawk
My Little Raptor
Two brown raptors
Perched on a tree
Looking for a mouse
Quiet as can be
One flew away
The other went to sleep
Two brown raptors
Which one shall I keep?
Yesterday I went for my regular circumnavigation of the lake, camera in hand. Shortly into the woods I was brought up short by the sight of a Cooper’s Hawk in the dense bush, sitting on a branch making a meal of some small creature. I wasn’t sure at the time exactly which bird I was looking at, and unfortunately I’d left my 300mm lens at home. I watched for a few minutes as it devoured the creature, while pausing between bites to look up and around for interlopers. Then it was gone, flying through the dense trees as if it were no larger than a bug. I managed a few pictures which I had to crop in a big way, but they did prove what I saw was indeed a Cooper’s.
Cooper’s Hawk at lunch
This morning I did some research on hawks at this site: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/coopers_hawk/id
One very helpful item there is the recording of the Cooper’s call. Later on I set out for a walk, this time with the 300mm lens affixed. The general rule is that when I carry the big lens I don’t see such sights as I did yesterday. However, I was halfway across the floating bridge which crosses the end of the lake, when I heard the call. It was the very cry I’d only just listened to and it said “Cooper’s Hawk”. Looking up I saw it on a branch above the water, wings and tail feathers outspread as if drying them off.
Cooper’s Hawk #2
Since one doesn’t see these birds that often hereabouts, I can only conclude that this one has perhaps paused here for some reason. Maybe to eat tasty little birds like this one: