I found these pictures that I had taken once we had just moved into our new home in October last year. I am enjoying them this week looking forward to such warmer days while we still have a dusting of the white stuff this morning.
We were tired from unpacking and so much had to be done back then. But in this one perfect and quiet moment of evening stillness, a beautiful red-tailed hawk began to circle the valley off our back deck. It seemed to stretch its wings to their fullest as if it were enjoying the moment and the warmth of the sun all by itself.
It was such a perfect scene. I followed the hawk with my camera, clicking frame after frame as it moved. I love revisiting these photos for the feeling they give me of standing on our deck and being an unobtrusive observer to what seemed like the happiest moment for this beautiful bird in the golden hour of a beautiful day.
Anyone who has ever stopped to watch a hawk in flight will know that it’s one of the natural world’s most elegant phenomena.
A few times since we have been living on our little ranch atop this knoll/plateau (I have no idea what the appropriate geologic term would be for where we are), I have thought I glimpsed a pair of golden eagles. There have been 2 huge birds of prey that briefly soared by our back deck and it has been an uncertainty for quite a while as to what I saw.
Today found my husband and I sitting in our family room with very gray and overcast skies when he startled me by saying “Look!” and indicating out the large windows overlooking our valley. My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I realized just what glided by our porch railing. There was no mistaking this winged visitor.
For the very first time in my life I was in the presence of a real bald eagle.
By the time I had jumped to my feet, grabbed my camera from the side table and taken a few steps to the window it was already hundreds of feet higher than our deck.
Unfortunately, no detailed or close-up shots this time. It was only luck and a 200mm lens that got these “barely there” pictures. These are edited, cropped within an inch of their life and zoomed in as far as I could reasonably go.
But what a treat to see this majestic bird in person for the first time. Strong and solitary, it glided up the air currents of our hills and valley as if it had been flying here since the beginning of time.
After I snapped as many pictures as I felt worth trying for, I stood barefoot on our porch stairs with temperatures in the thirties taking in the moment. Who knows, it could be years again until I see another one.
What an encounter. I hope it returns someday and I can record this beautiful creature with the kind of visual representation the emblem of our country should have.
This morning brought a silent hunter who took a rest in a backyard cottonwood tree. (My best guess on this one with limited viewing of it’s tail is a red-tailed hawk). With feeding small birds and critters come the hunters that learn they can sometimes find a snack at our feeders.
More often than not, the cover our trees provide give the song birds and squirrels the better odds.
Sometimes photos pop up at the most inconvenient moments. Like this one where I was leisurely coming down the stairs to my kitchen on the first floor of my home and saw this gorgeous creature on my back patio fence. I had to decide between taking a not-so-great picture with my phone, or taking a chance that it would still be there if I sprinted back upstairs to grab my 200mm lens. I took a chance and raced upstairs, trying to assemble my camera while flying back down again. Obviously it’s not in great focus as I was trying to catch my breath and still the camera, but at least the owl stayed put long enough to take one decent shot.
This tiny Dark-eyed Junco was doing all it could to only keep one miniature foot in the snow at a time in a 2014 snow in Virginia. It was only after watching carefully for several moments from 25 ft away that I noticed it changing feet every few moments. Not to worry though, just out of camera range were 4 feeders I kept filled in the back yard it had a feast at.
A sky hunter patrolling the skies high above the tree tops. This red-tailed hawk circled for a while, checking out the woods, looking for an unfortunate critter. It’s humbling to watch hawks and other birds of prey from the ground, knowing their eyesight is so amazing that their view of us is tremendously better than ours of them.