Sunday, September 15, 2013

Short and Sweet

This photo embodies what photography is able to do so exquisitely: eternalize the ephemeral. Plus, it allows the photographer (and by extension, the viewer) to savor life's transient pleasures and to elevate the beauty of the quotidian to its rightful plane.

In this case, the quickly-disappearing-in-the-summer-heat footprints of a bird who is always on the go.

The American Dipper constantly bobs and dips its head at and under the water in search of insects, larvae, fish eggs and very small fish. And it has bird superpowers: a dipper can fly through waterfalls and fly-swim underwater, urgently propelling its grey body against the current in search of food.

The bird was only on these rocks for a few moments in the summer evening along Wiley Creek--and its footprints a momentary testament to its peripatetic ways.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Fish Hawking

Yesterday I had one of my favorite birding pleasures--I found a new "secret" place. My definition of secret is pretty loose; it only means that I've never heard anyone else mention it before.

Note the metal band on its right foot.

Cascades in the background, between Thorp and Cle Elum.

Following my gut is often the best way to have the most rewarding and invigorating birding experiences. On a instinct-fueled whim--after a very unremarkable (translation: boring and frustrating) five hours of birding--I turned down a road outside Thorp and was met with bounty: a green prairie-like ridge exposed to sun and wind, offering up a family of deer, a kestrel, an un-shy Meadowlark and a trio of Osprey around a nest.

The Osprey flies with the headless fish clasped in only one claw.

The fish-bearer is below; the one above checked it out many times but eventually flew off, fishless.

One of the osprey had a fish which apparently did not interest the other two enough for them to stick around. The fish-bearing Osprey circled around solo for about 20-30 minutes, and then devoured it alone. If anyone can enlighten me about the origin of the band and/or Osprey courtship rituals, please do!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Parade of the Handsome

Yes, I realize I'm jumping ahead of the current season by posting a juvenile Robin eating berries last August in the Arboretum, is so damn handsome I must share. My birding nerves are a-jangle in anticipation of the arrival of migrants and nests releasing fledglings--this shot is a foretaste of our upcoming avian pleasures.

Here are two more fearsomely good-looking birds to tide us over until spring is in full-on mode.

Without resorting to hyperbole, I have to say that this is the most handsome, distinguished crow I've ever seen--the late afternoon sun glossifying his plumage to perfection. Quintessential crow.

Twenty seconds later, I spied one of Capitol Hill's Cooper's Hawks patrolling the trees and lawn of Holy Names--unperturbed by dogs and children frolicking below. The intense orange-yellow eye reveals that it's a juvenile.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Display on Display

Unexpected servings of sunlight this morning revealed a Northern Flicker pair in full-on mating display at the Montlake Fill. The male drilled at the snag, fanned out his salmon-bright tail, then the female answered with her own fan display.

He threw back his head a number of times, exposing his spotted breast. They would then switch positions--she'd be higher up for a bit, then he'd ascend to show off again from a higher branch. This duet of contortions and acrobatics lasted at least ten minutes; the mating imperatives made them indifferent to me.

About thirty minutes later, they landed on a nearby parking lot light structure; the male began rat-a-tat-tatting on the lamp. A male interloper joined them for a few seconds, and then was off to the south, probably in search of a solitary female.