Winter is the season of extreme moods. Rain on a summer day can never be as miserable as the grey gloom of winter. Today was one of those winter days we treasure – sunny and all blue skies. I felt like I couldn’t get enough sunshine. The birds responded with displays of beauty too, and I was lucky to get some good pictures. The Pileated Woodpecker was hard at work on the tall stump again, although he refused to come around to the sunny side of the tree. I caught a pair of Stellar’s Jays in a bush right in front of us, and a pair of Ravens high up in an oak, well lit by the sun. On the water I watched ducks for a while, hoping some of the Mergansers would come a little closer. Unlike the Mallards which make their year round home here, these Mergansers come infrequently, and I suppose they aren’t quite as comfortable around humans as the Mallards are. They have this reflex to stop and turn away at a distance of about 15 yards. I came home and hung about doing things like starting a loaf of bread, but always with an eye out the window, with a feeling that the beautiful sunshine was going to waste. So at 4 pm I grabbed my camera again and went back down to the lake to enjoy the last of the sun. I caught a Song Sparrow in the golden light, amongst a crowd of others hanging around some feeders. Then I spotted something far away, coming across the sky and heading for the top of one of the tall firs, about 40 or 50 yards away. It was impossible to recognize at a distance but with the 500mm lens I saw it better, although it was still a mere blip on the screen. I took some pictures and stood there waiting for about 10 minutes with my finger on the trigger, hoping to catch it in flight. When it finally took off my reflexes were just too slow, or my camera was, but in any case all I caught was air. It was another Peregrine Falcon, not exactly rare but then again not a common sight hereabouts. They are distinguished by their Elvis sideburns, although to be fair, falcons had them first. Not every day you see the fastest animal on earth. They dive at 250 km/hr (155 mph).
Tag Archives: merganser
Last night I won $84 on my 6/49 loto ticket. So I purchased another one. I know that statistics prove that lucky streaks are random occurrences, but maybe I’m having randomly occurring luck. It certainly seems to be that way with the birds recently. I’ve seen three bald eagles in the past five days, another one just today around noon. It seems to have taken up residence in a local tall tree.
Another bird that is quite literally trying to take up residence is a Pileated Woodpecker. I heard its tapping and then saw it low down on a rotten tree trunk, right beside the trail, excavating a huge hole. I had the camera set up at f32/400th of a second, which was a mistake, because the auto ISO function set the ISO so high the image was very noisy. I’m trying to improve my image sharpness, but this was over doing things. I also took some video of the woodpecker, but it wasn’t in focus.
Crossing the floating bridge I was treated to a show of herons and ducks. One heron was preening itself as several Mergansers cruised by. One Merganser then flew right in front of me but the photo was out of focus, sadly. However, I did catch another heron as it swooped by.
Yesterday, close to home I spotted a Cedar Waxwing.
Now to spread the good fortune around I will be promoting my novel The Game of Hearts, by giving away the Kindle ebook free for the next five days, starting tomorrow, January 7th.
Just go to the Kindle website listed at the top of this page and you will find it there.
I returned to the tree 2 hours after I first saw the Pileated Woodpecker to try my luck again. This time I set the camera on a tripod and waited. Sure enough after a few minutes the woodpecker returned with a series of squawks, and began digging out the tree. It was on the opposite side of the first hole however, and the sun was right behind it. I had to move the camera into the shadow of another tree, which obstructed my view somewhat, but the results were much improved. While I was waiting for the woodpecker a wren arrived to check out the excavation.