Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sunny Stop Between Errands

Today was the day Girl Scout Cookies showed up at the office! Of course I didn't have the correct cash on me when they arrived. So, lunch featured a quick swing by the bank, and then a stop to break a twenty. In between I made a fortuitous stop along a creek behind the Safeway in Superior. There were dozens of Juncos moving about, but most stayed deep in the brush. I caught the Slate-colored individual above as it spied on me through a branchy frame. The visit reminded me why I have liked this spot in the past. In the ten minutes I stopped I had 20 or so juncos, three Northern Flickers, a Downy Woodpecker, a group of House Finches, and flyovers from geese and ducks. They were all singing their heads off, and I could feel that my appreciation of the springlike weather wasn't isolated just to humankind.

As I gingerly stepped back up to the path a pedestrian asked if I was taking pictures of Eagles, "nope" I said, "just too nice not to get out for a few minutes". I kind of laughed to myself as I walked away, a Bald Eagle in that tiny little grove would have so dominated the scene that I wouldn't have been the only one to notice it.

Then, as if word had gotten out that a Bald Eagle sighting was requested by a non-birder I saw a black and white speck in the distance.

Regrettably the walker was gone as I had been heading the other direction, but I still had a few minutes to enjoy this avian giant mastering the thermals over an area of fairly dense condos and commercial development.

It wasn't alone either. I am not sure if these two were willing co-inhabitants of their common airspace. But neither species really seemed to interact too closely with the other. Readers ready for an airborne ID? Look for a field mark on the non-eagle before getting to the bottom of the page.

The two birds may have tolerated one another, but even the Eagle has its limits.

Not quite enough depth of field to get both in focus - so I split the difference and missed both! Oh well, still a fun sight to see. I got a few shots a bit closer, but this was a different sighting from in the past. This was a prolonged appreciation of a flying eagle - never perched - never really flying with a purpose. It, like all the other birds I watched this afternoon just seemed to be soaking up the beauty of a bright day, and the sun that was coming down from above and back up from the snow.

Any non-hawkwatchers able to identify the other bird above? If you thought Red-tail Hawk you were correct! Note the dark aspects on the lower side of the wing. The dark wrist commas and patagial bars (dark patches on the leading edge of the wings between the commas and the body) mark this as a Red-tail. Bright days with snowy ground are fantastic for watching soaring raptors. All of those indicators that are obscured by shadow beneath the bird on a normal sunny day, get a nice highlight.


  1. Beautiful pictures, experience and post. Thanks for sharing. Isn't it great when we have experiences that enliven the soul?

  2. You really have a knack for finding birds! Nice shots!