THIS MONTH: crow vs. hawk;
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March 9 2014
We saw hawks flying over mid-Sunset Bay, a little too far to get a good bead on, but even though I couldn't tell what exactly they were doing up there, I started photographing away. As usual, I did not know what kind of hawks they were, and I certainly didn't know they were of two different species, so they were not happily flying along together, and there was, instead, some antipathy up there. As luck would have it, I was apparently almost focused on the Red-shouldered Hawk above. I like that the Red tailed Hawk is looking up — I've always admired birds who can fly along looking backwards or up. I wish we could see the look on its face.
Don't think I could identify this as the upper bird in today's top image. But it could have been. I was very surprised to see it alight in the tree — it was the first bird I saw when I entered Sunset Bay walking from the parking lot all the way down the hill from Winfrey and further down to the left. I hate the idea of having to drive all the way down to Buckner, wait at that light a couple lights' worth, then down the hill to Poppy Drive, etc. etc. But sometimes I'm lazy and drive it, anyway, just to have my car close. This time I didn't, because I needed the exercize.
I walked around the tree counter-clockwise, hoping to get more of a front view, but there were a lot of branches to photo through.
A goose on shore had its wings spread out over its body preening, so I photographed it. Might bake a nice visual transition.
No telling why I shot this. I guess I perk up anytime any bird flaps widely, but I missed the full flap out position, but I kinda like this one, not the least for its abstract quality.
There's a congregation of Northern Shovelers gathered on the far side of the lagoon from Sunset Beach, but they're really to far for me (bad far vision) to see or focus, so my best chance at them is when they fly over. Of course, I had no idea who these ducks were when I photograph them. When I'm standing on the pier at Sunset Bay, I'll photograph just about anything that moves that I might have a chance at. And many I don't, because I need the practice. The one outstanding feature that separates Shovelers from all other species is those big, honking beaks. Otherwise, they look a lot like Mallards with the colors in the wrong places.
Hadn't seen any Scaups for quite awhile. I'd assumed they'd gone off to wherever they go in spring and summer. But there were the usual four swimming around and mostly under the pier today. I would have got more bird in the shot if I'd had a shorter telephoto.
See the fin forward on its upper beak? That's a signal that this is a breeding age pelican, and both sexes get them. Smaller pelicans with pinker beaks are juveniles, and they stay juvies for several years. But this is a breeding adult American White Pelican.
In a way, it's sad to have to show you these pix is such small size and smoothed-over detail, but this pelk's band is easily read when it's blow-up substantially.
Same action, just a different bird from a different direction in a different place.
Ditto, ditto, ditto. With great form.
I watched the male Mallard (being held under by two other males) chasing the closer here tan and white duck all around the inner Sunset Bay, thither and yon, forth and back. It was fun watching. I've attempted photographing such chases so many times without success, I just enjoy watching. Imagine my surprise when the chasee and a couple other male ducks caught the former chaser and held him under for much longer than I can hold my breath, then held him down there some more. Duck justice.
Between pouring oodles of corn grain for
all the birds but his gooses, Charles told me to watch out for "the new Muscovy.
This was the only one I saw, so it must be he.
What the Mallards and Wood Ducks and coots and swan and various other birds and ducks are there for is to eat. They mob the shoreline each time Charles pours long lines of corn. There are little spats, big fights, wrangling and shoving, but mostly they all just eat.
We've been seeing a Pintail Duck in Sunset Bay for the evening feeding on and off for many months. Probably somebody remembers just when he joined the merry band, but he still shows up, off and on, and it's always pleasant to see him. For awhile, last year — or before that horrid winter we keep hoping is just past — there was a female stopped there briefly, but only briefly.
They are truly beautiful birds, and since I could, today I wanted to show you them from nearly all sides.
Sometimes something spooks them and they all head out to water — and safety. Then after they calm down their fluttering hears, they swim back, come up the hill to the newly poured corn and eat some more till something spooks them.
Some call her Katy. One photographer insists upon calling it The Lady Catherine, but so far, nobody we know knows what sex it is, but it's so elegantly beautiful, many assume it's female, although there must be about as many males as female Mute Swans.
I was pretty sure it was my First of Season Wood Duck, then Charles told me ha hadn't seen any before this male, and I told him about the female who wasn't really hanging out with the male, but she'd got in on the corn line earlier.
Female Wood Ducks are feisty — not at all as demure as Mallards and other fem ducks tend. The males are overly colorful in my way of thinking, but the white outlined females are subtly beautiful.
Sometime in the last century, there was a restaurant called the Sunset Restaurant, or something like that. Now there's just sunsets sometimes, but at least the place came by the name honestly.
Okay, same deal as last time, but a whole lot different outcome. Above we see eager American White Pelicans hoping for fish; a bunch of cormorants hoping for fish; and one cormorant diving for fish. Just because they're hungry, doesn't mean they'll find anything.
But at least one cormorant has something silvery flapping in its beak.
And the chase is on again.
Till they get to where they thought they just had to be.
Where they land and look and look.
And one pelican finds something worth filling its expandable lower mandible. And the others keep looking.
And looking. Look carefully, and you'll see the second cormorant swimming this side of the two pelicans got a fish. And so does the second one from the right.
But not everybody all the time. Still it's worth looking and hoping.
Jumping on each new opportunity.
It's pretty obvious when pelicans catch a fish. They make a great showing of tilting back and draining down. Cormorants are quicker, and the only remaining sign is that thickened throat.
But nobody gives up hope.
Anybody know who this is? I should, I suppose. It didn't seem the least concerned about my and The Slider's presence in its world. I wanted to call it a sparrow, but I'm not even convinced of that.
Driving down Garland Road toward the lake, I noticed one of those fishing parties I so love. Except nobody appeared to be having any fun or catching any fish. Not for lack of trying or critical mass.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the dam, the Ring-billed gulls who form the massive white bumps along the upper spillway suddenly became aware of "the fishing party," sprang into flight, then flew over to join it, where they also did not catch any fish. Those of us who believe that gulls are merely along for the excitement, should know that I have seen them carry large fish off, where, presumably, they eat them. But not this time.
Looking fragile and strange, vertical sheets of frozen water protected the fragile shore.
I only stood on the hill overlooking the lake at Garland Road for about 20 minutes. It was fairly cold this morning, so am not certain, they never found any fish. But while I watched, I never saw a single bird with a single fish.
As I watched, more and more birds joined the "party," that swept up and down, back and forth from the dam to the entrance to the part off Garland Road and back.
Plenty of action. Just no catching fish — although maybe the cormorants, who dive under the surface, were finding fish down there. Pelicans tend to herd their prey into smaller and shallower schools, then dip in and eat them, but I didn't see any of that.
Just as I finally figured out where the focus was on the male American Kestrel on the wire behind the Winfrey Building well east of Garland Road, he turned around to show me his butt.
Then he flew away, and I found him again, and he just stared at me. I always wonder whether they can see me or do they even bother looking, but this one sure looks like he's as curious about me as I am about him.
This bird paid me so little heed, I had to stop The Slider, when it crossed the road in front of me.
Eventually, I settled on the pier in Sunset Bay, where I often end up, with seven rather resplendent Rock Pigeons, several of whom were head-bobbing and tail-dragging for anybody who almost noticed them. It's breeding season for them, at least, hence the luscious colors.
I was especially taken with this one's Aztec feather on feather back design.
Tried Sunset Bay without much bird success. It was plenty cold; I figured some bird would show up, but nobody did. So I gave Dreyfuss a try. Not much there. Wherever birds go when they're cold, they were, not there. Then I saw the hawk in a tree along the shore after I was coming down the road from the top of Dreyfuss. Pulled the slider over, set up the camera, and by then, the hawk was gone from the tree, because the crows had latched onto it, too.
Crows think that area is their territory, because they used to eat a lot of the stuff they threw away at the Dreyfuss Club (before it burned down.) I know this is a lousy shot, but the trees are sharp, and you can kinda tell what's going on. The crows are skedaddling the hawk. Happens all the time there. Over and over. Hawks don't learn, and crows never give up.
I think the hawk is sharp-ish and the crow is not completely out of, but this is the essence of the action. Crow chases. Hawk escapes.
To the victor belongs the tree. Reminds me a lot of my first Crow Vs. Hawk experience.