Saturday, August 6, 2011

Wildlife at home -- 30 minutes of clickity-click!

In the late afternoon on June 27, Carl and I arrived home at about the same time.  And as we were greeting each other, we noticed 2 Carolina Wrens on the same nut feeder outside our dining room window.  Then there were 3 and then there were 4 with 2 more on the deck rail close-by.  It was the whole family of Carolina Wrens with the recently fledged juveniles.  Carl and I both grabbed our cameras to capture the scene.  It was 4:25 pm and just a precursor as to what would come within the hour.

Carolina Wren family

Carolina Wren family

Carl went upstairs to work on homework, and since it was a delightfully agreeable afternoon, I decided to hang out on the back deck that overlooks our tiny creek.  And at 5:21 pm, my 30 minute clickity-click adventure with the camera and the wildlife began.  Mama Mallard came up the creek with her children in tow.  I noted they were getting bigger, but fewer in number.  Where once there were 7 babies, now there were just 3.  Whereas it is sad for the duck family, it is a fact of the natural world.  Everyone has to eat and  feed their own babies and some critters eat other critters.  The culprit in this case is most likely either our local Red-tailed Hawk family or our local Cooper's Hawk.  Personally, I do not play favorites.  I like hawks and ducks equally.  Sometimes our neighborhood hawks eat our neighborhood ducks.  So back to the story:  Since baby ducks are photogenic, I ran inside to grab the camera and some corn to toss.

Baby Mallard - 5:21 pm

Mama Mallard - 5:22 pm

After a few shots, I decided that I should try to capture a few shots from the yard.  So I ran downstairs, with camera and corn, to lure them in closer.

Baby Mallard  - 5:30 pm
Mama Mallard keeping watch -- 5:30 pm

Baby Mallard - 5:31 pm

Mama and Baby Mallards -- 5:36 pm

Satisfied that I had perhaps a few decent shots, I returned to the safety of the deck above as the mosquitoes below were vicious.  From there, I tried to shoot the 25 or so kettling turkey and black vultures  but I confess those shots were not worth saving.   Then suddenly, a commotion began in some pines a little way down the street -- American Crows and Northern Mockingbirds were mobbing something -- most likely one of those hawks!  Sure enough, here comes one of the Red-tailed Hawks with smaller birds in hot pursuit flying towards one of his favorite perch trees right across from my deck!  Photo op!!!!!  And I was ready -- clickity click!

American Crow pursuing Red-tailed Hawk - 5:43 pm

Red-tailed Hawk and American Crow - 5:43 pm

Eastern Kingbird and Red-tailed Hawk - 5: 43 pm

Red-tailed Hawk arrived at his perch well-harassed - 5:43 pm

Mama Mallard, still down in the creek, had hid her babies in the marsh and kept her eye to the sky, hoping that the annoyed hawk would not see her family.

Mama Mallard watching for the hawk and guarding her chicks - 5:45 pm

The smaller birds found the Red-tailed and continued to harass him.  So he let out a blood-curdling scream, in proper Red-tailed fashion of course, and flew out from the perch tree over the deck and the house to another, less-favored perch tree across the street.  I grabbed the camera and ran out the front door to follow the action.  He was mobbed on that perch as well and so he left that perch also in very short order.  Here are a couple more shots of the Red-tailed, speaking his mind, on his departing flight.

Red-tailed Hawk screaming against the harassment of the smaller birds - 5:49 pm

Unhappy and harassed Red-tailed - 5:49 pm

After watching the Red-tailed leave, I returned to the deck, where I took my final picture in this exciting 30 minute clickity-click sequence -- a calm, but perky little Carolina Chickadee -- at 5:51.

Carolina Chickadee -- 5:51 pm

I took 83 frames in 30 minutes and you have just seen the best!  Hooray for my Canon digital SLR!

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