This morning I took Niblet in for a checkup before I would schedule his neutering. He didn't enjoy it all; I didn't take pictures because I spent the whole time holding him, petting him, or feeling bad for him. He checked out perfectly fine, though, so I went ahead and scheduled his procedure. Little does he know.... I'm worried about the whole thing, but Dr. Jones assured me it would be all right, and it might stem some of his more territorial behaviors, i.e. leaving poos everywhere. His new spot is right in front of the cat's downstairs litty; they're not thrilled with having to step over him on their way to the loo during one of his "sessions."
On our way home, I spotted a huge hawk in a field, eating. I decided to turn around and try to photograph him, but he'd already taken off. I then slowly followed him to a tree:
Then he flew to another tree, farther from the road. He was beautiful in flight, all white with tiny brown streaks underneath--chest and wings. I'm guessing Cooper's hawk, because of the long tail, but he was not very streaky-breasted. He looked more red-tail in that sense, but that tail is too long. Raptor experts, please help. I wish I could've photographed him in flight, but honestly, I knew I would miss him--no way I'd be able to get him in view of the lens, focus, and snap. I'd end up missing the joy of just watching him.
I tried to remember my good birding ethics, and I was probably at least 200 yards from him the whole time, but I imagine that while he's used to cars flying by at 65, he's not used to them stopping anywhere near him--maybe? So he went back to a treeline perch, where I hit the max digi-zoom:
I really need to get a good tripod and start taking my spotting scope with me. My attempts to bino-scope were fruitless. After a few more blurry photos, I figured I'd bothered him enough, so we came home. Niblet brooded a little bit, to show me his displeasure at being "handled," but he's too good-natured to stay broody for long. I gave him a big old carrot piece, so he's a very happy boy now. He goes in for "the snip" about three weeks from now; I'll probably take the morning off to go with him. Poor sweet boy.
All this happened before 11 o'clock, so after a good breakfast, I went back to start my FeederWatch count for this weekend, and as usual it was almost all sparrows, all the time. Got some good photos, though, which I thought I'd share.
When I lived in town (State College), I had a lot of juncos coming to my feeder. Out here, however, they're a rarity. Only once since I started my feederwatch counts have I ever seen more than 1 at a time. I love them, though:
I've always found it difficult to photograph black-capped chickadees and tufted titmice because they flit in, grab a seed, and fly off, all in just a second or two. Today, though, I got pretty lucky. Here's the titmouse money shot (not a lot of money, mind you--this is my photography we're talking about here):
Not too terrible.
I got him perching, and then I got him flying away! Look how his tail is kind-of tucked forward--why is that?
So--to the other sparrows. Tree sparrows have such garishly russet heads that I really like them:
I got another "flappy" photo as well:
Maybe I should try putting the camera on "burst," so it takes a bunch of photos in rapid succession, and I might get more of these rather interesting photos. I like to see wings spread out.
The birds are loving the brushpiles I've built, especially now that the snow has mostly melted and the branches are exposed again:
The day is so beautiful, clear and cold, with a brilliant sun and a butane-blue sky:
I have to attribute "butane-blue" sky to an old friend, Kris Patterson, who wrote those words in a song almost twenty years ago. Wow--it's been a long time since I lived in Austin (1988-1990).
I leave you with this photo of the titmouse after he's just left the suet feeder: