I hope I never lose my sense of wonder. If that makes me naive, then so be it.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

nature notes

I never pegged myself as a bird watcher. It seemed to rank right up there with watching paint dry.

But since moving here, I've learned that there is much to be seen from watching them in action.
- yesterday, a group of about 15 wild turkeys walked across a field across the creek. The toms were showing off and the hens seeming to ignore the show. They are large birds, but definitely not the meat-heavy domestic version. They almost look regal, strutting across the field, and when they take off it's a racket like a helicopter. This morning three of them were sauntering through the yard by the house, oblivious to the two dogs who were very eager to go out and play with them.
- a couple of winters back we got to see several great grey owls. They were amazing to watch as they flew overhead, surprisingly silent for their large size. One perched on a fence post, surveying his temporary domain, and allowed me to get close enough to get a couple of photos before quietly taking off and landing atop a branch that seemed far too small for so large a bird. But, there he sat, as if weightless.
- Hawks. Aaah. I love to watch their soaring flight. We have red-tailed hawks here, and little kestrels. The kestrels are like the sport coupes of the birds of prey - small and agile, while the other hawks are more heavily built. Turkey vultures are often overhead, looking for food of the variety I'm sure I'd rather not find.
- there's a great blue heron or two who frequent our creek in the summer, patiently and slowly wading on their search for fish or frogs to spear. They're very wary, though, and usually the only way I see them is when they take off and scold me for daring to interrupt their dinner. Kingfishers have also been seen along the water, along with the ubiquitous mallard ducks and the seasonal Canada geese.

This morning we saw a bird on the ground, poking about. It looked like a woodpecker. Turns out, thanks to my trusty Audubon Field Guide, it was a Northern Flicker, a woodpecker that feeds on the ground. I had seen one before, a fact I only recalled thanks to a note scribbled in the Audubon book. I've taken to jotting down when and where we see new birds and over our three years here have noticed some patterns as to who shows up when. The biologist in me rears her head every so often.

The barn swallows should be back soon. Watching them fly is incredible - aerial acrobats, they are.

And it beats watching paint dry.

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