23 Jan 2012

Some days are just like that


I haven't been able to go out, mostly due to bad weather and extremely cold temperatures.  Today however, I had an opportunity that I just wasn't going to miss.   So I bundled up and headed into the sunshine and blue skies.  The birds were chirping everywhere, and although I was able to capture only one on camera, I did get some other very nice photos.

Refusing to let go
I discovered a tree that still had one lone, brightly colored leaf which refused to let go, and another that had started to bud, no doubt during the spring like weather we experienced in December.  Looks like leaf and tree were both confused as to the season.

Growing too fast too soon
My favorite photo from today's outing is the one below, where the setting sun burnished the multitude of dry leaves on yet another tree a beautiful bronze.

In the end, although I did finally spot a flock of Bohemian Waxwings flying over the tree tops, even the Squirrels were in hiding.  Some days are just like that, but there will be other days and other outings.


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15 Jan 2012

Delightfully winged: Shadows and Motion

Within Shadow and light, a sudden, swift motion startles, your eyes try to follow and you wonder what was seen, what delight you've missed.


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12 Jan 2012

Spikes for my footwear

The weather here has been very unpredictable with temperatures that are very unseasonable.  The result is that we have had freeze and  thaw conditions almost all winter so far.  On Monday the weather was so nice, I decided to visit the ravine located not too far from my home.   Many people walk their dogs here or just stretch their legs and enjoy the ravine.  It is one of my favorite places to go since I discovered it last year.  The trail therein is long, with a couple of steep hills and it branches off nicely in many directions.

The first branch in the trail
When I entered the ravine, it looked like the path was clear enough at first.  Not soon after though, I was forced to walk along the edge of the path where the snow hadn't been packed down by many feet, melted and frozen again.  The path was sheer ice.  A little further and I realized I couldn't continue on unless I walked under the trees where there was very little or no snow.  That worked, until I was confronted with dense and impassible bush.  I heard a Pileated Woodpecker and tried to follow, going in a different direction without success.  The birds were singing, but because I was underneath them, I couldn't get a good view through the viewfinder of my camera.  Needless to say I wasn't impressed. 

Still passable on one side
Going up

I encountered a couple of people who were having the same difficulties, but like them I attempted to press on.  When I topped the first relatively small hill though, I could see that the icy conditions continued in a steep rise over the next hill, although there was a clear space temptingly just in front of me.  My frustration was complete.  I felt defeated, but it would be reckless to continue and I knew it.  You see, me and Ice don't get along.  Confrontations generally result in broken bones for me.  Not something that I need.

 At this point a gentleman walked passed me without a care in the world, followed by three Scottish Terriers.  He was having no trouble what so ever.  As he passed he smiled, and no doubt having observed my difficulty in negotiating the trail, advised, as he pointed at his feet, that I should buy spikes for my shoes and where to buy them.  Bless his heart.  Needless to say I thanked him, before I turned around and headed back, with renewed hopes for future birding in the ravine this winter.

Flock of Bohemian Waxwings fly over
Pair of Bohemian Waxwings

I managed to snap a few photos of some Bohemian waxwings when I left the ravine, but nothing spectacular as you can see.  My next act, being a somewhat determined person, was to head straight for the mall, where I purchased spikes for my footwear.  

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9 Jan 2012

Tough times for Predators

These photos are not all that great. They were taken when I first started out with camera in hand, but they clearly show that many predators don't have an easy time of it when they hunt.

Crow mobbed by Red-winged blackbirds protecting nests
Swainson's Hawk attacked by Crow
Osprey on the look out for Eagles who would steal his catch

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4 Jan 2012

Woodpeckers and Crossbills

Northern Flicker
My plans to spend the day in the River valley today were a bust, I simply had too many errands to run.  That didn't stop me from going out for the first time this year.  I simply didn't go very far.  At first I thought it was going to be one of those days when you hear the birds but just don't see any.  I stayed a little longer anyway, because things can change very quickly when you are out birding, as many of you no doubt know.

Downy Woodpecker
My sightings began with a Downy Woodpecker and a Northern Flicker sitting at the very top of a thirty foot pine.  
Gray Squirrel
I surprised this Squirrel as I moved slowly and quietly along the forest floor, ducking under bushes and stepping over fallen logs in an effort to keep from startling the birds and to listen for bird song.  He froze in place and posed nicely for a couple of minutes, before scampering out of sight.   I heard plenty of Blue Jays, Nuthatch and Magpies, but saw nothing else until I caught a flicker of movement and color at the corner of my eye.

White-winged Crossbill
White-winged Crossbill profile

When I turned to look, I saw a couple of White-winged Crossbills landing on the lower branches of a pine.
Digging seed from pine cone
Mouth full of seed


I managed to catch one photo, before both headed off to the tree tops, and I thought I'd lost them for sure, only to spot them again on the forest floor a few minutes later.

On alert
One of them carried a pine cone from the forest floor to a perch so he could dig the seed out of it.  I haven't seen the White-winged Crossbill for a couple of years now and hope to catch a few more photos before the season changes.  If you wish to learn how to identify this species you can read about it on my other blog.  Just follow this link:

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