Friday, December 11, 2009

Some days are better than others.

I nearly dismissed them as Canada Geese.

I was backing the car up the driveway when I saw a wavy line of birds coming over the neighborhood. I glanced up and then went back to concentrating on not driving into the neighbor's yard. But a rattle call floated down to me, and both of my feet slammed down on the brakes. And I shouted out loud, to no one, "Holy sh*t! Sandhill Cranes!!!"

Sandhill Cranes. Over OUR house.

Sandhills 1

Sandhills 2

Around thirty of them slowly peddled overhead, as I held the camera in one hand and clutched my chest with the other. Sandhill Cranes as a yard bird. Never would have thought.
Another flock came by a few minutes later, so I grabbed Geoff off his chair to show him.

While waiting for the schoolbus, yet another flock. More than 100 cranes in about 20 minutes.

Second flock Sandhills
I talked to myself a lot yesterday afternoon.

Another day, another bird:
I read that a Bald Eagle was seen near the "gravel pits", (click here to read about me finding a baldie in the same place a few years ago...and there are a few funny kid stories in that post, too) about 10 minutes from the house, so that was my target bird today.

Delivered. With a bow and sparkles.

Usually when I would look for an eagle on this stretch of road, it would involve driving down the road past the gravel pit, turning around and driving back. Over and over.
But today, as soon as I started down the road, a large dark bird materialized in a tree immediately.

Bald eagle 2 2009
And I started talking to myself immediately.
"Well, hello there, Bald EAGLE!"
I thought that I would also find plenty of birders there, too. But I had the bird to myself.
Which made me cry.
And I walked as I cried, closer and closer, keeping my profile to the bird, pretending that I wasn't looking at him.
I realized how far I had walked, so I stopped and looked up at the eagle. I was about fifty feet away.
And he was staring right into my eyes.

Bald eagle 3 2009
I forgot all about not staring at him, (raptors don't like to be stared at) and just froze in my tracks. I looked into those icy white eyes for what seemed like forever, until HE broke eye contact and went back to watching the American Coots panic down on the lake.
And a few minutes later, he began to preen. Birds don't preen unless they are relaxed.

It is mind-blowing to me when a bird (or any wild animal) is so utterly unconcerned with a human being so close.
So I cried a little more. It's okay if you want to call me a sissy-pants. I had a bald eagle all to myself in beautiful sunshine today. *sticks tongue out*

I came home, and dragged myself to the laundry room to figure out how many piles I would have to move to be able to enter the room.
The laundry room faces what we call "The Waiting Tree", a knarly tree that is a favorite perch for all of the raptors who visit the yard.
And there sat a red-shouldered hawk.
This is a different bird than the one doing the orange lollipop thing a few days ago. That one had a very dark face...this one was gray in the cheeks.
RSHA in waiting tree
And banded. Maybe the one featured up in my header?
(If you click on the photo and view the large size, you can just make out the band on its right leg. And some blood on the talons. Sweeeeet.)


Gail said...

How wonderful an experience~~Sandhill Cranes and the magnificent raptor. I would have cried too with the beauty of such a day. gail

LauraHinNJ said...

Wow Susan... what an awesome day! And these pics... took my breath away.

Dave said...

Sweet pic's!

Beth said...

Wow - what a day. And I don't blame you for crying a bit. I would have too.


Julie Zickefoose said...

When you can get photographs like THAT of birds like THAT on your own stomping grounds, you must be living right. Congratulations richly deserved. These miracles reveal themselves to a soul that is open to them. The thought that many folks might say, "Huh. Big birds." and go about their business, or never hear the sonorous rattle of a sandhill crane, makes me sad. Keep trying to change that, OK?
And I completely get the tears part.
Wahhhhhh! Right with you.

eileeninmd said...

What a cool sighting of the Sandhill Cranes. Awesome shot of the Eagle. They are all wonderful bird sightings.

Nina said...

Aren't they just the best?
I still wait and hope someday to see them here--it's possible, it just takes patience and an eye on the sky.
Which you had to yourself.
Those command performances, held solely for you--chills.

Mary said...

I would have been sniffling with you, Susan. I still have a hard time describing how I felt when a Bald Eagle floated over my head in my own back yard.

Awesome shots, girl! And then there are the cranes. How lucky you are...

Moe said...

Wow! So many great birds!

Chris Petrak said...

I'm catching up with blogs finally. When the expected bird turns out to be the unexpected, it is thrilling - I forget myself in the haste to stop, and stumble out with binos & camera. That's what birders do - the bird gods were protecting you from the poor people rushing somewhere else. Such fun.

Kelly said...

Wow! Fantastic photo of the eagle......I love seeing them in Cincy now. The other day I'm sure I saw one flying over I-71 near Kings Island. It's so darn hard to drive when a suspect eagle is overhead!!

RuthieJ said...

I love it that you talk to yourself when you're out seeing birds. I do the same thing but I thought it was because I'm old.....
But you're still young Susan, so I know it's an OK thing now!