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The Red Tailed Hawk’s Guide to Hitchhikers

The red tailed hawk perched less than 20 feet from the adult great blue heron and stared at the nest, thinking no doubt about tasty eggs for dinner.

Red tailed hawk being mobbed, with a bird perched on the back of his head.

Red tailed hawk being mobbed, with a bird perched on his head.

I wrote the above lines in a post about the symbiotic relationship between cormorants and great blue herons, and how cormorants seemed to stand sentry over the nest. (If you missed that post, you can click here to catch up.)

Other birds also had a presence on the nesting island while the eggs and then chicks were growing that summer, and blue jays in particular created a noisy ruckus when a red tailed hawk ventured too near.

Red tailed hawk being mobbed, with a amaller bird perched on the back of his head.

Smaller bird perching on a red tailed hawk.

On many occasions, smaller birds would mob a hawk that had circled close to the island. That’s not surprising at all.

What was surprising, though, was that one of the small mobbing birds landed on the much larger hawk’s head or shoulder, and hung on to the hawk while the hawk flew on, trying to escape the mob.

The mob consisted of several different kinds of birds, including blue jays and grackles. On this day, the bird on the hawk’s head is a blue jay. On a different day when I was lucky enough to witness a red tailed hawk with a hitchhiker, it was a grackle on the hawk’s shoulder.

This is one of those occasions when a 600mm lens would have been great, except that I photograph from a moving kayak on often-rolling waters. It wouldn’t be prudent, as someone famous used to say.

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Thanks to the kind folks at Skywatch Friday.

Thanks once more to Prairiebirder Charlotte for her Feathers on Friday prompt.

Thanks again to Stewart Moncton for the Wild Bird Wednesday prompt.

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(The photos here were taken July 4, 2012)

© 2013 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

To Infinity and Beyond

In coldest darkest November, some people go ice fishing.

Me? I go star fishing.

Babsje
November 2002

Meteor from Leonid Meteor shower.

Meteor from Leonid Meteor shower.

The topic for this week’s photo challenge on WordPress is infinity.

Watching meteor showers and photographing comets both put me in touch with the infinite in a way that nothing else can.

There’s something primal about laying back on a grassy hillside watching the summer Perseid meteor shower put on a show overhead.

Standing on that same hillside before dawn on a frigid November morning photographing the Leonids, cold of body yet warm of being, has the same effect.

The photo here is one of many meteor and comet photos I’ve taken over the years.

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Thanks to readers here for indulging me in this non-heron post!

I’m sure the herons don’t mind, either.

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Thanks to Petrel41 at Dear Kitty for pointing out the December 13, 2013, Geminids Meteor Shower. Don’t miss it!

Thanks to Ben Huberman and WordPress for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Infinity prompt.

Thanks to the kind folks at Skywatch Friday.

Thanks also to Ailsa and WordPress for the Travel Theme: Height challenge. (Not much is higher up than the source of a meteor shower.)

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(This photo was taken November, 2002)

© 2013 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s …

It’s NOT a great blue heron!

The herons have allowed a guest bird in their blog today, an osprey. What fun!

Young osprey perched amid pinecones.

Young osprey perched amid pinecones.

There are several osprey at the lake, and I’ve been watching the one shown in this post since 2009. This osprey can be found perching in several specific trees throughout the day, and in Autumn it seems to follow the sunlight around the lake. The tall pine in the photo above is a good afternoon spot, where it can bask in the warming sun on a chilly day.

This osprey is very curious and frequently makes direct fly-overs of my kayak, perhaps to see if I have any fish – I don’t – or just because of some other bird reason unknown to man. On many occasions, it has landed on the limbs of a tree directly above my kayak while I’ve been snugged against the shore relaxing.

Osprey taking off.

Osprey taking off from a perch high in a dead pine.

A favorite morning spot for this osprey is a tall, dead pine where it can perch high up with an unobstructed view of two coves, the channel, and one of the tunnels.

Early one day, when I was settled against the shore underneath that tree, photographing a great blue heron across the way, a large shadow passed overhead. I took the camera away from my eye and looked up to see the osprey landing in the tree directly above me. It perched there for a while, and I resumed photographing the heron.

The tree is across from a place that has been a favorite fishing spot for the herons over the years. I’ve seen the herons catch some very large trout and bass and sunfish there. Maybe the osprey watching the herons fishing there is on the lookout for any fish that escape the heron’s bills? With their keen eyesight, the osprey could easily track any that get away and swoop in for the kill. Perhaps it’s a symbiotic relationship between osprey and heron. That’s my story theory and I’m sticking to it.

Another osprey that has the southern end of the lake for territory also does the same thing – whenever I’m paddling there, the osprey approaches directly overhead as if to check things out. Maybe they recognize my boat after all these years? I always wear the exact same colors for each outing, so perhaps that makes me memorable to them.

Whatever the reason for the ospreys’ curiousity, I love their presence.

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Thanks to the kind folks at Skywatch Friday.

Thanks also to Ailsa and WordPress for the Travel Theme: Height challenge.

Thanks again to Prairiebirder Charlotte for her Feathers on Friday prompt.

And thanks once more to Michelle for the Weekly Pet Challenge Roundup nudge.

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(The photos here were taken October, 2009 and August, 2013)

© 2013 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

If Not to Touch the Sky

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

Joni Mitchell
Both Sides Now

Great blue heron soaring two hundred feet up.

Great blue heron soaring two hundred feet high into threatening skies.

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Thanks to the kind folks at Skywatch Friday.

Thanks also to Ailsa and WordPress for the Travel Theme: Height challenge.

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© 2013 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

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