The Northern Harriers are back in all of their amazingness. I love watching them skim along the top of the grass. Yesterday, it was especially fun to watch how they were using the wind to their advantage by facing into it, and hovering almost motionless just inches from the ground. This morning, I was taking pictures of the sunrise from behind the tall grass and one was hovering right in front of me. Unfortunately, since the sun was behind him, I did not get much detail of his amazing face, but it certainly was fun to watch him so closely. Click on pictures to enlarge.
I did not get to the Wakarusa Wetlands much over the summer, but now that we are heading into fall, I plan to do something about that whenever I can. I took a couple of hours off yesterday to see if what I had been hearing about great numbers of pelicans was true. While a road grater scared many of them away right after I got there, a few remained. It is great to see them in this relatively new space (part of the mitigation for the SLT). While I in no way can speak to the anger and betrayal felt by so many regarding this sacred space, I am choosing to focus on making peace with my relationship with this place that has meant so much to me. I hope it will continue to be a place of relative safety for the beings who live there, and I hope that migrants continue to find it a restful and nourishing spot in the fall and spring. It was wonderful to see thousands of gulls coming through high overhead and the blackbirds were dining on sunflower seeds. A few cormorants were hanging out in a tree, kingfishers patrolled, and grebes dived. Click on pictures to enlarge.
I say something like this, every year. There is something both amazing and heartbreaking about watching the hummers in the fall. Most of the adults have left already, so we are now seeing the young ones. Here are these tiny birds, no more than six-months old, who will be crossing the Gulf of Mexico soon. Every year, I watch them camp out near the feeders for several days, even a few weeks sometimes, drinking all they can, fighting to keep that spot, and getting plumper by the day. I start to recognize them. One may have a particular white shape above the eye, or an interesting pattern as the ruby-throat begins to develop. I get attached. I worry about their journey. I watch the weather vane on our neighbor’s house to see wind change. I know a steady north wind may be when they take off, if they have stored enough to get to the next place in their migration south. I know I will never know if they made it, or if they return to our area next year, but I wish them a safe journey. Click on pictures to enlarge.
After seeing very few hummingbirds in the spring, they are now at our feeders in huge numbers, plumping up for the journey south. It has been so much fun watching them. At one feeder, it seems two adult males are sharing and running everyone else off. They spar with each other, but generally let each other drink. Everyone else has to work a bit harder to get to the nectar. It is an interesting dynamic. Sometimes, it seems aggressive. Other times, it seems more like play. Only they know. Click on pictures to enlarge.
It was a morning of coyotes and Cooper’s hawks. I took a walk through the Wakarusa Wetlands and it was relatively quiet until I ran into this beautiful coyote on my way back to the car. When I got home, I noticed the quiet immediately as I got out of the car, and the fact that no robins there to greet me looking for raisins. Sure enough, there was our neighborhood Cooper’s hawk sitting on the ground directly behind the brush pile (designed to give the birds some cover). Click on pictures to enlarge.