Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Great Raptor Day

Today (4/7) I had quite a raptor experience.  It started with my decision to take a half day and go out photographing birds.  I went to a local park where our local bird club does a twice-a-month bird walk.  It is a bit of a drive but a place I know well and usually has good birds.  I had wanted to focus on planning a picture and waiting for it instead of my typical chasing after birds hoping to get a good photo.  My usual approach leads to a lot of bird butts.  Unfortunately, the park and birds were not being cooperative.  I had thought of trying to get some bluebirds around a field that has several houses and is a reliable place to see them.  Unfortunately, it was mowing day.  No birds around.  So I moved on to a few other places where I could hear birds up in the trees but no one would come down to my level.  Eventually I ended up in a powerline cut where there are some low shrubs that occasionally have good birds.  All I found here were some deer.  I did manage a few shots of them by getting ahead of where they were grazing to.  They knew I was there but didn't seem to care until they got within about 20 feet.  Then they just walked back into the trees.

Not the birds I was hoping to photograph

As I was leaving the deer I could see out of the reservoir in the park.  Two Bald Eagles were flying in close proximity to each other.  As I walked back towards the car I wondered if I could get to the water's edge in time to see if they were heading to their nest.  But what happened was ever better.  They grasped talons and spun down towards the lake surface.  It is apparently a mating game that eagles play.  I've seen it several times in documentaries but I think this is a first for real life.  They were much to far away to photograph so I just enjoyed the view in my binoculars.  I did make it down to the waterside but they had separated and were keeping to themselves now.  After a few minutes the cold wind we are having today drove me away.

Then this afternoon as I was checking the mail I felt a swift breeze o the back of my head.  I turned and saw a Cooper's Hawk chasing a Mourning Dove down the street.  The dove dove between two houses and got away.  But they must have passed just a few feet behind me.

Later in the evening I heard a bunch of crows making a ruckus in the back yard.  Crows seem to particularly enjoy mobbing birds of prey and the victim often takes off after a minute or two.  But this time, the crows continued on for several minutes.  While watching from the window I even saw a Great Blue Heron flying by drop down to circle the mob a few times and let out a croak or two.  Since it had lasted so long I decided to try to go out and see who the crows were harassing.  As I approached the mob I saw a Great Horned Owl sitting up in a pine tree.  It finally had had too much and took off across the marsh.  I ran out to the pier hoping to see where it went but the Owl, when crows in tow, flew all the way across the marsh and ended up behind a house directly below the sun.  I could still hear the crows as I walked back to the house.
Great Horned Owl (taken about a year ago in a local park)
Be sure to check out Wild Bird Wednesday.

6 comments:

  1. Oh! What a thrill to see the eagles, who needs a picture I'm sure it is forever burned into your memory. Great shot of the owl, I have yet to get an image of one.

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    1. I will definitely remember it. But the photographer in me always wishes to capture those unique moments.

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  2. Things never go as planned, do they? Your sure having your share of adventures though!

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    1. I guess the best adventures are when things don't go quite as planned. You always have to be ready for what nature gives you.

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  3. Replies
    1. Thanks. It was a joy seeing the owl seeing up in the tree.

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