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Nature in it's glory

Nature in it's glory

Feb 20, 2012

Red-head Monday

Common Crossbill male

Today seems to have developed a theme all on it's own.  It all started at the bus stop with the return of the Common Crossbill, while I was on my way for groceries.  I had turned on my camera to catch a photo of a Raven carrying nesting material.  The neighborhood Ravens have been doing so for several days now, flying overhead each and every time I need to catch the bus.  When I looked up, after adjusting the settings on my camera, there was a little red-head peaking out at me from a pine tree like bush.  As you can imagine, I took several dozen photos of both the male and female.

Pileated Woodpecker male
After returning from my grocery shopping and lunch, I decided to head out again.  This time I went to the little forest down the street.  The first bird I saw was a Pileated Woodpecker, who was behaving rather oddly.  It turned out to be a male.  He wasn't pecking away at the trunk of the tree he clung too, he was too busy looking around.  A half hour later I figured out why.  There were two Pileated Woodpeckers in the little wood.  I believe love is in the air for these two.  The male kept trying to get closer to the female, but she was giving him a merry chase.  At one point they were three feet apart on two different tree trunks, but I just couldn't get an image of the two together. 

Common Redpoll

While I was observing the male Pileated's odd behavior, I also spotted a pair of Common Redpolls, another red-head.  The photos I got aren't very clear, as there was a lot of bush and branches in the way but I did get one in which the bird  is at least clearly recognizable.



Feb 16, 2012

Winter colors

Raven climbing the sky

There was a time when it seemed to me that in winter all the color is leached out of the world.  But as I have discovered in the past couple of years, this is simply not so.  If you really look closely and do so when the light is in just the right place, the colors are actually more intense.


Today the sun was very bright and because the only bird I saw was a Raven, I amused myself by attempting to capture winter's colors on camera.

Moss Green, tan and brown
Muted green
Flaming Orange and red
Tan and gray

Gold,bronze, blue

light and tan
If you wish to see the colors of winter, just stand between the light and the object you are looking at.  Or, stand just slightly to the side.  The colors will take your breath away.


Feb 15, 2012

One second with nature: February

No doubt it has come to your attention that my posts have been a little erratic of late.  Life has been sending a few curve balls my way, as it has for many others around me of late. So please excuse me while I attempt to adjust to my life's new rhythms. 


Feb 11, 2012

On a misty winter morning

I have recently had only one occasion to take my camera out on a walk.  It was a misty morning, the kind where the air is thick with not quite frozen fog, and although the birds were twittering quietly all around me, the only bird I saw was a Blue Jay.  The bright blue of his feathers seemed to stand out sharply from the dreary, half frozen atmosphere of the forest.

Blue Jay excavating the top of  tree stump

Digging for some grubs

Blue Jays are amazing birds.  Their curious, sometimes cocky, no non-sense attitude is very entertaining.  They are hardy and seem to have no trouble surviving, even in the worst of winters. 

Mr Blue Jay after the air  cleared

This particular Blue Jay stayed with me through out my walk.  Not following of course, but always there.  He was busy foraging for grubs or bugs, and any left over hazelnuts that all Blue Jays seem to favor.  Every once in a while I would see him disappear to the forest  floor, and reappear a heart beat later to pound away at one of the nuts with his bill, while he held the nut against the branch.


Feb 2, 2012

A Magic Moment

Raven's call

When I headed out today, I did so just because I needed it.  I had no expectations, no direction and no purpose other than to soak up some light and breathe in the air.   As soon as I stepped out the door, I let my feet lead and my mind rest.  The first thing that I noticed was that the birds were very active and vocal.  In fact, I was surrounded by birdsong.  I stopped here and there just to listen.  The House sparrows and House finches were singing their mating songs.  The Nut hatches and Blue Jays were unusually vocal as well, although I don't know what their mating call sound like, and then I heard the high pitched voices of a flock of Bohemian Waxwings.

Bohemian Waxwings
It is then that I realized, that the bird song was more concentrated in a specific direction and I wasted no time in getting there.

All puffed up
It seemed as soon as I arrived in a small patch of forest just off the side of a busy road, I was literally surrounded by birds as if by magic.  House Finches and sparrows, Nuthatch, Downy Woodpeckers, Blue Jays and even a Raven, joined a huge flock of Bohemian waxwings that were feasting on berries.  The waxwings were not shy.  As long as I stood still they continued to consume berries at a incredible rate.

Downy Woodpecker

Downy above me

I wandered away from them for a while, only to have a Downy woodpecker land on a branch directly over my head.  Suddenly there were Downy woodpeckers everywhere, and they seem to have paired off.  No sooner would a female arrive on the trunk of a tree and a male would follow almost instantly.  They were calling to each other all the time.   I also spotted some Dark-eyed Junco's foraging on the forest floor and almost danced a jig.  Their presence is a sure sign that spring is not too far off.

Scarfing down a berry
All puffed up
When I returned to where I first saw the Bohemians, it was to find them still greedily consuming berries.  They would eat a few berries, then drop down to the forest floor to eat some snow.  Once in a while, one or two would shoot up to the tree tops, or off to another berry bush, their flight so swift that I trouble following it with the eye. These birds were in constant motion so that there was a steady stream of traffic from one berry bush to another, and from one tree to another.  I was delighted to discover, that I could get as close as five feet before they would all fly off.  Having discovered the distance that the birds would tolerate, I stayed there, working the shutter.

In Song
I managed to get a few decent photos as you can see.  Nuthatches came and went, and a Raven arrived to perch on the top of a pine, announcing his arrival with his harsh calls.  When I finally went home the waxwings were still mobbing the berry bushes and birdsong continued to fill the air.  This had been a magic moment, one that I will remember for quite some time.