Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Death by moonlight, dinner by day

People travel from all over the world to places like the Serengeti to watch grazing animals get torn apart and eaten by big cats and other predators. This winter Nature-ripe-with-tooth-and-claw-and-beak came to our own back yard.
First it was the accipitors who find our cute little sparrows that come to our feeder so irresistible.
Turkey vulture, carcass and tracks.
Then two nights ago something, a coyote perhaps, broke into the deer pen at the bottom of our hill and routed the deer sheltered there. Perhaps half-a-dozen fled uphill. All but one got away. By mid-day, the turkey vultures had discovered the remains and dined al fresco all afternoon. This morning, the crows are taking their turn.
Turkey vultures on the deerkill.
The deer was young, perhaps a yearling. It bogged down in the deep, crushed snow, its thin hooves breaking through over a foot-and-a-half, reducing its panicked run to a crawl, while the coyote danced about it, its paws sinking in no more than an inch.
Deer tracks to right, deep and dragged.  Coyote's to left, barely breaking the surface of the snow.
The chase ranged back-and-forth over an area half the size of a football field before the victim slipped and stumbled once too often. All this story was easy to see in the bright sunshine of Monday.
The scene of battle with remains of the loser.
I hope that what little is left will be carted way by foxes before all this snow finally melts.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A bit of snow this year

It seems like Kyle, our farmer is plowing out our driveway every other day. We have no problems getting out, but the piles keep growing.
Mo on top of one of the snow piles. He loves to climb up and slide down.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Someone Came for Lunch

February 5th, 2014

Our birdfeeder is attracting a lot of birds this winter. But some do not come for the sunflower seeds. This immature Cooper's Hawk showed up and decided that a sparrow was just what she needed for lunch. The menu was either a junco or a white-throated sparrow. By the time we got home from shopping, it was a bit had to tell. The hawk de-feathered her meal then ate everything else, bones and all. Then she perched on a branch in full view for over an hour, crop full and enjoying the sun. Only the agile titmouses dared return.

Coopers Hawk dining.
Accipiter Cooperii, immature female

Camera was a Nikon D80 with a 500mm f8 Zeiss Fernobjektiv
set at f11 and less than 30 feet away. Did not have to do virtually any cropping.
Another Cooper's Hawk visited two days later, but it appeared smaller and may be a male. It was already showing adult plummage on the sides of its breast and still had the white terminal band to its tail. This bird should have a white terminal band as well, but her tail feathers are so worn that the tips are gone. The second bird was spotted by the small birds before it even got close and failed to get a lunch.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

For the birds

Male Pileated Wookpecker
A couple of pileated woodpeckers showed up by the house. One stayed long enough for me to get a couple of pictures of him with the 50cm Fernobjektiv. When I came back later with the 640mm Noflexar, he left, but a male house finch stayed long enough for me to get another picture.

Male House Finch