Last week we spent an hour or so at Willow Lake one morning, just hanging out and watching the birds- AND we were the only people there! We were on the lookout for sandhill cranes which have been photographed over there recently. I think I spotted one flying, but didn’t grab the binoculars or camera in time, unfortunately. Although I’ve seen them in the air and at a distance several times since I started doing photography, I’ve never been close enough to get good photos. At one point, I was able to get two herons and one egret in my frame as they were busily looking for food. Toward the end of our time at the lake, one of the herons flew over to a little island, and I was able to get this photo of him taking a break from fishing.
Walking at one of the lakes and taking in the peaceful beauty of nature has become our refuge from the conflict and stress of our world these days. On New Year’s day, we spent an hour or so walking along the shore of Watson Lake watching ducks, swans, blue herons, and a pelican, all seemingly untouched by the political and pandemic news of the day.
Below is an impressionistic view of a heron fishing in the shallows.
As I was rinsing my cereal bowl one morning last week, I looked out the window and saw this guy! We’ve never spotted any type of woodpecker in our yard, so this was a major event, birdwise. I grabbed my camera and took a photo through the glass. A few minutes later, it flew away. I sent a photo to my bird photographer friend, Carol, and she agreed with my quick identification from Sibley’s- a Northern Flicker. However, there is a possibility it may be a Gilded Flicker- so, not being a birder, I will just say it is a Flicker. Or a big bird.
Another view of the same egret posing on the rocks.
On Christmas Day, we went for a leisurely walk at Willow Lake and watched a heron and egret fishing for an hour. We are used to seeing the heron slowly wade through the shallows looking for fish- an example of patience and perseverance. The egrets are normally farther away, but this day we were lucky to be able to watch one close to where we were walking. It was less patient (maybe more hungry) than the heron and was constantly moving along the shore, eventually ending up in a little area by the rocks. This photo was taken as he spotted a fish, which he caught a moment later.
When we arrived at Watson Lake, a heron was sitting on the little float that sits in the middle of the lake. After awhile it flew in front of us and then across to the opposite shore. The wind was ruffling its feathers as it stood immobile until after we left.
Late one afternoon, we finally got over to Willow Lake to visit the white pelicans that flew in a few weeks ago. They are earlier than usual- and staying longer- perhaps because of the hot weather. As I drew closer to photograph them, it seemed the pelican on the right was becoming nervous, and it looked as if the bigger one was reassuring him. This went on for awhile, and eventually he did take off over the water to find a place to swim.
FYI- It has been about 11 months since my knee replacement, and during this walk, I noticed that I really don’t even think about my knee at all before taking a step. Before surgery, each step on uneven ground was wobbly as my knee was very unstable. I can’t say that it feels like a normal knee, but it WORKS!
Newport Beach in February
August 2020 was the month of the hummingbird in our garden- they rule the back yard. When we are outside we are constantly “buzzed” as they make sure we know we are in their territory. We’ve had many more than ever before- is it the hot, dry weather? the fires elsewhere? Whatever the reasons, we have enjoyed having so many! Our local bird expert writes that some will start leaving soon (as they always do in September), but we imagine that we will continue to have a few that will stay around through the fall.
There seems to be a Hummingbird Fight Club going on in our back yard these days. In the last month, we have had more hummingbirds than ever before, and although it has thinned out a bit in the last week, we have constant territorial battles going on- especially in the mornings and early evenings. We have four feeders, but there is always one that is the feeder of choice that must be guarded by whoever seems to be in charge at the time. Often there are six to eight hummers involved in the dispute over the chosen feeder! I like this shot because this little one chose to take a break on a high willow branch, which made a nice composition.
We are home a lot these days (no surprise. . .) and have plenty of time to watch the hummingbird drama unfold in our yard! This handsome little guy is one of a group of newcomers to our yard and has the others on their toes, so to speak, as he chases them away from the feeder. I have yet to capture a good photo of him hovering, so here he is just after landing on the feeder.
I confess I haven’t spent much time on photography since this whole thing started. But thank God for birds! I’ve been emerging from my office lately to sit in the yard with my camera and watch the goings-on. We’ve noticed less bird activity than I can remember from previous summers here (despite feeders and fountain), but I was happy to see that the mourning doves are back. So today’s bird portrait is of one of those quiet beauties.
Goldfinch- stopping for a drink in the late afternoon light
I’m reaching back into the archives for another beach photo. This one is from our 2018 trip to Homer, Alaska. Really sad to miss seeing our Alaska family this summer. . .
Beaches are open, but not for us cautious types. This is from last March’s visit to Newport.