Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sunning and Watching

Home a bit early today I took advantage of such a beautiful day.  The faintest hint of coolness in the air but bright sunshine.  Trees are beginning to pop with a pinkish color of newly
emerging leaves.

The hawks were keeping such a fuss when I arrived home flying again checking out various trees.  I take this as a good sign of their intent of nesting near by.  The other birds and squirrels did not much care for the hawks so close and fussed continually.

One finally rested on a limb for quite a bit of time enjoying the sunny spot that had good views.   It seems most of the time they fly when you start trying to get to a good vantage point for pictures but today this one was very cooperative. 

The last shot was disappointing.  I had made up my mind to stand in one location until it took flight.  I was hoping for a good flight shot.  Oh well, another day.  The camera chose to shift focus to focus on one of the pesky in the way branches and not the bird.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Expected Fish, Got Stick

From this viewpoint, we thought he had a fish
I met my friend at Lake Jordan this morning to go see the eagles.  The wind was supposed to have been relatively calm and I guess compared to yesterday it was but it was a bit higher than expected.  When I arrived and walked down towards the lake, the eagles were flying.  By the time I got my camera set up, of course, the male had gone and the female was sitting on the nest.

As he approached, you could see it was a stick

We settled in waiting for some action.  The female was actively tending the young and ripping apart a fish.  The chicks then settled down for a nap.  We talked and watched a young blue heron flying about hoping for the return of the male.

After a couple of hours, the wind off the lake was about to do us in and hunger was calling.  We kept walking a bit aways from the water to a sunny spot and would warm and watch.  As it was now getting close to noon, we felt for certain he would be bring lunch at any time.

He offers up the prize stick
Soon we spotted him coming across the water.  At a distance, we could tell he was carrying something and assumed a fish.  In addition to the camera set up, I had set up the spotting scope so I could look closely at the going on's in the nest.  The wind was shaking the scope far too much for any decent pictures but I went ahead and attached the point and shoot camera ....just to try.  Sorry the close up is not any better.  Will try again on a less windy day.

The female obviously expecting food looks confused
When the male arrived at the nest, the female was scolding him a bit as if he was late arriving.  He proceeded to place his offering down.  I switched from my camera over to the scope to try and get a good look.  I absolutely had to let out a little giggle when I saw what he brought.

The female dispatches the male with a scolding

The look on the female's face is priceless.  You can almost hear her thinking of what the heck am I suppose to do with this?  Both chicks were up and moving now anticipating food.  Poor little eaglets!  The female quickly dispatched the male from the nest.  I hope the chicks make it.  For her to be such a good eagle mom, dad needs to start bringing home the bacon or fish in this case.

Chick is up and looking for food (there are two)

Friday, February 24, 2012

And Then There Were Two

Early in to work this morning so early home.  Gusting winds with a tornado watch in effect took me out to secure some loose items that were blowing about.  A rather large group of Yellow-Rumped Warblers hunting insects on some vines first caught my attention.  I tried a couple of shots but with the dark conditions and high winds moving the vines, no good shots.

What next caught my attention was a little Brown-Headed Nuthatch.  It flew to the feeder, took a seed and up to the limb.  As I was looking through the lens adjusting the light, to my surprise another flew in.  What followed was I feel certain courtship ritual between the two.

At first they just sat side by side.  That was followed by much self preening and feather fluffing.  Again they just sat for a bit.  Slowly they kept turning as if looking at each other.  Lots of head cocking and turning.  Next one began to preen the other then after a bit they reversed roles.  After a bit more feather fluffing.  Finally there was either a simulated or true copulation act.  After another brief quiet moment, they flew to another tree and the ritual began again.  It was beginning to sprinkle so I called it an afternoon.
Normally the little Brown-Headed Nuthatches are such speedy never sit still birds that it was sort of cool to be able to watch them closely for a while.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


A bit of diversion from my usual posts yet somehow, all things seem connected  .Just as the seasons change, stages in our lives change and mine is getting ready to make a big one.  I usually don't share much about my personal life so this is way out of the norm and is more to let my friends know.

In May of this year, I will complete 30 years of military service and am hanging up the boots.  A friend whom I worked with several years ago told me when the time came I would know it.  Well Jerry.....you were correct.  The time has arrived!  And, yes, it can't get here fast enough.

From last Monday until yesterday I have been filled with a gamut of emotions.  A certain amount was a fear of change and the uncertainty it holds.  That however, has now been replaced with an almost overwhelming sense of relief and like the weight of the world has been lifted.  That restricting band around my chest has been removed and I can now take a fully expanded deep breath.

Approaching this decision for many months, it is now final.  The constant stress and pressure were beginning to have a negative impact on my health and my mental well-being.  After the last visit to a doctor for some issues and was told it was stress related, that was a clincher.  No job is worth that.  My creativity had reached a low point and many things I previously enjoyed such as painting and drawing had long since slipped away.  Slowly the desire to indulge in the more artistic and beauty aspects of life are beginning to return.  As we only get one go round in life, I want to focus on the good.

Enjoy the beauty and enjoy the journey.  Life is far too short and uncertain. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Brown-Headed Nuthatch

Non-descript, diminutive, sleek, elusive, and fast all describe the Brown Headed Nuthatch yet for such a small bird they are chocked full of personality.  Who says brown is boring?

When I arrived home from an outing, I stood and watched one that was back and forth to the feeder.  It would grab a seed then up to the tree.  As I watched it time and time again going to the feeder, I realized it was the safflower seed that it was getting each time.  Sometimes it would take it up to the tree and with several strikes get it open and eat.  Other times, it would go to one particular branch then quickly back to the feeder.

After several visits to this one particular branch, I realized it was stashing the seeds in a hollow spot.  It made me wonder will it really remember where it put the seeds or will they just become lost seeds.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Spring Fever

A touch of the late season crude has hit me a couple of days this week and I stayed home today...just because.   The morning began fairly warm and it turned out to be a beautiful day.  Not sure what the temps finally reached but I suspect around 65 deg. 

A pair of hawks spent the morning around the yard area keeping quite a bit of fuss.  Joining in the morning calling was a Pileated Woodpecker with another somewhere further in the woods answering.  The one close by would throw its head back and let out the unmistakable call then wait for the reply.

All the commotion and calling brought in the crows, a group of Grackles and the Turkey Vulture circling overhead.

 A walk about in the yard this afternoon showed definite signs that spring is not far away.  Lots of plants beginning to show signs of life and the insect population is becoming active on the warm days.  I saw three different types of butterflies today.

Unfortunately, the weather for the big birdcount weekend does not look promising.  I had planned to go with a group Sunday but that now looks like a wash.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Feeding Behavior - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

The Good - When you can get along with others, everyone eats

The Bad - The standoff and no one eats (amazingly the Downy won this round)

The Ugly - The bully and only he eats (or she)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Winter Lives

Winter just could not pass without reminding us it is still winter.  Temperatures have been dropping like a rock all afternoon as a cold front moves in from the NW.  Winds are gusting making it that much colder.  I believe I heard that we are going to drop down to about 23 tonight.  Too cold.  Fortunately this is only suppose to last about 4 days then back up to mid to high 50's.

I still cannot be up much on my foot without it starting to swell so I have spent a fairly sedate Saturday looking out the window and wishing I was outside.  I did manage to go to the reception for the art and photography contest I had entered.  Extrememly pleased I took first place in the park category and best in show overall. 

Back to birding.  Watching the birds today it is like they knew a cold front was coming in.  Activity at the feeders was high and alot of fussing amongst the birds.  The suet feeder was occupied all day and at times, possessiveness caused some intense conflict.

A small Japanese maple that is in the area of the suet feeder was a resting place for those not wishing to jump into the fray of the fight.  It is right in front of the window where I was sitting so provided some good shots.

Lots of Yellow-Rumped Warblers today.  More than I have seen the entire winter so I am not sure where they flooded in from.  I forgot how obnoxious they can be.  They were constantly doing fly-by's on the other birds and giving them a little goose.  A couple in particular thought the suet feeder belonged to them.

I see the male Pine Warbler quite often but today he brought his lady friend with him.  When I first saw her I had to stop and really take a look to figure out what she was.  Today, she stayed most of the day while he sat in a nearby tree.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Decoy Progress

Off of my feet two days running now.  I broke two toes yesterday morning early and by noon, almost my entire foot was swollen.  When I attempted to put on shoes this morning....no way.  Wouldn't even fit.  So I have spent the day with my foot up and rotating cold packs.  I have a photograph in an exhibit tomorrow and hope to be able to attend, in shoes at that.

Since I couldn't get out to bird, I figured this would be a good time for an update on my decoy progress.  I am still going very slow.  If I made a major mistake now I think I would cry.  Week 5 I starting roughing out a more refined head shape but still a lot left to do.  Week 6 work was on starting to refine the back end.  I didn't get as much done on Monday night as I had hoped but I was a bit under the weather and tired.


Alone, adrift on the pond at the mercy of the currents and wind;
to what will be its final end.

Combined with many, strength, protection, given to flight;
alone on the pond it loses its might.

A slow drift by, then gone from sight;
a lone feather,  no longer to soar in the freedom of flight.

Goose feather, adrift on the pond;
complex simplicity.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Ummm Umm - Snake is good eating

When I arrived home this afternoon, I went through my usual routine of a little rough play with the dog then walk out on the deck and look around the yard.

I noticed a Brown Thrasher giving something the once over.  Back inside to get the camera and back out.  I figured it would be gone but it was still there and giving something heck.  As I eased closer my first thought was it was an earthworm on steroids.  The thrasher would peck at it on the ground for a bit then pick it up and sling it from side to side. 

I was finally able to get close enough to see that indeed it was a young Red-Bellied Brown Snake.  The thrasher kept eyeing me like I was going to take it's prize and finally grabbed it up and flew off a bit.

I walked over to check out the area and indeed there was another young snake out also but today unlike it's sibling, had a lucky day for it as it was free to move on.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What Will The Groundhog Predict?

Tomorrow is the big day when groundshogs predict whether we have six more weeks of winter or if spring is on the way.  The tradition originated in the Old Word with an ancient celebration of the midpoint between the winter solstice and spring equinox.

Punxsutawney Phil  may be the most well known but locally our groundhog predictor is "Sir Walter Wallie" (a take off on Sir Walter Raleigh) for whom Raleigh is named.  With overcast skies predicted for most of the day tomorrow, bets are he will not see his shadow.

So despite whatever the outcome, mother nature is already showing signs of spring.  The daffodils have begun opening in the yard, azaleas are starting to show tale-tale signs of future blooms  and trees in protected sunny locations are showing signs of coming to life.