Back to the nest this afternoon, and the momma was sitting there when we arrived. No babies yet. Once again it was sunny and windy. I sat on the opposite side of the sun and tried to get some shots but the light was bad. Just then I looked up and there right above the nest, perhaps within 20 feet, sat a very windblown red tailed hawk. It too had the sun at its back so I had to move about to try and get a shot from a better angle. I was going from hawk to hummingbird, adjusting my camera and trying for a good shot all the while the wind was blowing the hawk’s feathers and the hummingbird nest all over the place.
female Anna’s Hummingbird
I bet the hummingbird knew the hawk was there – she hardly moved while we observed her, the hawk right above her nest.
Red Tailed Hawk
A few people passed by and didn’t notice anything, so we didn’t bother to tell them what we were looking at either. Further on we saw numerous birds and one oddity – a Rufous, or Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus), an uncommon bird hereabouts.
Rufous or Eastern Towhee
The regular crowd was out too; one Great Blue Heron, Mallards, Song Sparrows, Coots and Stellar’s Jays
the fastest animal on earth
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).
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