Thursday, January 30, 2020
I’ve heard a lot of it lately: I wouldn’t mind winter so much if it would snow instead of this rainy stuff we’ve been having. And: These gray skies are really getting to me. When is the sun gonna shine again? I have to admit to some inner whining myself, as I’ve searched for some new subjects to photograph in the dead of winter.
The Cedar Waxwings surely must have arrived by now to the fruit trees laden with frozen, fermented crab apples. Not!
So I’ll head over to the ballpark and photograph a few Snowy Owls. I’ve seen four there so far this winter in various areas. They are often perched atop the light poles as they hunt the fields for critters. Not today. And it was such a gray day that the park lights were on!
Maybe there’ll be one atop the tall Pepsi building. They have a great vantage point there to the few open fields left in Chum’s Village. Nope. I struck out in the ballpark too. But I’ve done this photography thing long enough to not become totally disheartened at my plans not coming to fruition. I’ve learned to trust the process that something will materialize.
And then it did. I was driving along a country road with an open, snowy field to my right. I saw movement in the distance against a backdrop of trees, stopped the car, and turned it around to watch. At first, I thought the critter was a fox, but then the legs were too long and the body too large. No, it was a coyote.
It stopped and watched me, assessing the level of danger I presented. Deciding I probably was harmless, it moved on.
It put its nose to the snow sniffing for critters underneath. Mice or voles, perhaps?
It went into a pounce, like I’ve seen foxes do so often. I only caught the tail end of it, though. I wasn’t sure if it was successful in capturing some prey.
It continued to sniff the ground, so I’m guessing that it’d come up empty.
It turned around and sniffed in another direction, and I got to see the coyote’s beautiful bushy tail. Almost as lovely as the tails of the red fox I’d photographed in Northport.
The coyote moved on, vigilant for another opportunity to hunt. I headed home without a thought of whining in my head, grateful for the chance to see a creature I'd not photographed before.
Thursday, January 23, 2020
A visit to Clinch Park in the winter is quite a contrast to visiting in other seasons. When I stopped by the park earlier this week, there were just two cars parked and a few more driving through to see winter's icy beauty there.
While the park is full of icy figures, the bay has a long way to go to freeze over to Power Island. What's your vote? I don't think it's gonna make it this year.
Thursday, January 16, 2020
Thursday, January 9, 2020
I’d been driving around a new area, taking pictures of snow scenes. I ended up near the farm country where I often take pictures of cranes, eagles, herons, deer, and other wildlife. I couldn’t resist one last drive through this familiar area.
Almost immediately, I saw a convocation of eagles. There were five immature eagles and one adult. As might be expected, the juveniles were flying about, but the adult just sat there watching. Where was the mate? There had to be more than one generation present because eagles typically only lay two eggs.
The juveniles settled down and moved a bit, and I saw what the attraction was. There was a small animal in their midst. I was too far away to tell what kind of critter it was, but I’m guessing from the coloring, it was either a possum or raccoon. I also didn’t know if it was carrion or prey they were chasing.
After a while, I saw that the prey was still alive as it moved beyond the line of eagles. I wondered why one of the eagles didn’t pounce on the critter and claim it.
I was interested in a couple juveniles whose coats seemed especially bushy, particularly around the head. I did some research on immature eagles but didn’t find anything to answer my questions. I decided to move on to the corner, turn around, and head home.
As I headed up the road, I saw a second eagle, sitting in an empty cornfield. I imagine this was the mate of the other adult eagle that’d been with the juveniles.
As I zoomed in, the eagle’s eye seemed trained on something, but I couldn’t see anything in its line of sight that would be merit such attention.
I wasn’t far from the corner, so I decided to move on. As I did, the eagle turned in my direction, and I got one more shot in of this magnificent bird. No wonder it’s our nation’s symbol. I reached the corner, turned around, and headed back. I passed the lone eagle and reached the hill where I’d seen the five juveniles and one adult with the prey. The field was empty. I guess they finished their hunting without me.
Thursday, January 2, 2020
Every once in a while, for reasons that are not fully understood, Snowy Owls come flooding down from the north in a phenomenon known as an irruption. With what I saw yesterday, I wonder if another irruption is underway.
I’d received an Audubon alert early afternoon of the location of two Snowies. I headed out a couple hours later but didn’t see them, so I headed into the ballpark. I spotted the first one on a fence surrounding the communication towers.
The female Snowy didn’t turn fully around to look at me, but she did keep an eye on me.
I could tell she was edgy with four cars of birders and photographers watching her and taking pitchers. She brought up that wing, ruffled her feathers, and prepared to take off. Unfortunately, I wasn’t at an angle to catch her in flight.
She didn’t go far, though. She’d perched on a guide wire of one of the communication towers. Snowies have a knack for picking beautiful natural areas on which to perch. NOT! She did look right at us this time from a much safer place.
I was preparing to leave when a woman in the next car flashed a peace sign to me. Is that what she meant? No, I think she was saying there were two. So as I moved on, I scoured the ground and my surroundings for another bird. Across the ballpark, I saw another parked car. I headed in that direction and immediately saw another female Snowy atop a light pole. She didn’t turn her head, but that yellow eye followed my movement.
The Snowy looked down at me several times with those piercing eyes. I kept hoping she would take off so I could catch her in flight. After twenty minutes, I was giving up hope.
Then she ruffled her feathers and lifted her wings, with her eye still trained on me. A classic move for taking off! Here was my chance! But it was not to be. Just a false alarm.
I took one last look at the Snowy with her piercing yellow eyes and decided to head home. Gracie and I had been out all afternoon shooting Snowies, Bald Eagles, and snowscapes, so it was time to call it a day.
We were on the main drag headed for home when I spotted another female Snowy atop a telephone pole above the Taco Bell drive-thru. I couldn’t resist a few more shots, so I pulled in.
She turned my way so I could get those beautiful eyes again. I zoomed in, and without the telephone wires, it didn’t look like such a bad perch after all.
Okay, one last close-up. I’d taken over 500 shots, and it was time to REALLY call it a day. I’d never seen three Snowy Owls in one day, and it made me think another irruption was going on. To be continued, I hope.