Wednesday, May 30, 2018
It was 88 degrees outside and I had the A-C in my car cranked up to keep the interior cool. I was going to show a friend some of the places where I enjoy taking pictures. We headed out south of town and I decided to cut through the ball park to show her where I'd seen and photographed Snowy Owls over the winter months.
I'd heard there were still some Snowies in the area, but I hadn't anticipated seeing one. But off in the distance I saw the familiar shape perched atop a light post.
While it's always exciting to see these magnificent birds, I was also somewhat disturbed because it was so hot and the bird should've returned to cooler climes, or so it seemed to me.
The bird didn't tip its head down to acknowledge we were watching it, although one pupil appeared to be trained downward to where we were. It seemed way more intent on watching something out in the distance.
I hadn't expected the Snowy to take off, but it did soon after we'd arrived. We'd missed catching it in flight, but did track it as it flew inside a chain-link fenced area. It landed right next to a metal storage area and immediately turned towards us. We followed it and photographed it through the narrow openings between fence sections.
She was the largest Snowy Owl I'd ever seen. Those bright yellow eyes were focused intently on us as we tried to photograph her. I wondered if she had picked up prey along the way on her brief flight into the fenced area. I looked at her feet and it appeared there was something there, but I couldn't tell for sure.
As suddenly as she'd taken flight, she turned her back on us and began waddling away, lifting those big feet with long, sharp talons one at a time.
She was scurrying pretty fast and I admired the beautiful markings on her feathers. I wondered if she'd wanted to get away from us, why she'd not taken to flight.
And then she turned and I saw why. She had prey in her mouth, what looked to be a young bird. She had been masterful at picking off the bird in her short flight, and then concealing it from us eager photographers.
We left her alone to eat in peace. My hope was that she was fueling up for the next leg of flight to cooler habitats. Or maybe she'd been porking up so much over the winter that she wasn't up to flying those long distances.
Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Thursday, May 17, 2018
Wednesday, May 9, 2018
Usually, there's a progression to spring blossoms flowering, with forsythia often being one of the first. But with a few consecutive, very warm days, everything seemed to pop all at once. My favorites were the lovely magnolia tree blossoms. They are so delicate and fragile I hope they last through the predicted rainy days ahead.
Wednesday, May 2, 2018
It was a year ago when I went on an Audubon outing and discovered the rich farmland habitat where I find so many interesting critters. It was a beautiful spring morning and I decided to see what was happening in the outdoor world.
The first thing I noticed was that the farmland ponds were completely free of ice. Finally! I expected to begin seeing birds and waterfowl enjoying the ponds as they made their migratory journeys.
Right away I saw all the regulars: geese, gulls, and mallards. Then I saw this sandpiper wading through the shallows of one of the ponds. I wondered where it had been and where it was headed.
Then this Hooded Merganser caught my eye as it paddled across one of the ponds. What an unusual shape its head has! A very striking duck, to be sure.
The next critter I spied wasn't waterfowl; it was a muskrat! It was busy carrying vegetation from one side of the pond to the other.
The whole atmosphere was different this morning. Fields that had been under layers of snow three weeks ago had already been plowed and spread with manure. What a smell filled the air!
And besides the sights and smells, bird song also filled the air. The most common sounds came from the Red-winged Blackbirds. Their trill surely meant they were happy with morning sunshine too.
That wasn't the only birdsong I heard. The familiar bugling call of Sandhill Cranes caught my attention from above and I was able to catch them in flight.
But what was especially fun was seeing what happened next. As the cranes reached the treeline, they extended their legs and floated in on extended wings for the landing.
It didn't take long for them to head over to the nearby cornfield and begin feasting on the leftover stalks. Sustenance was needed following their flight!