We didn't get to the Raptor Trust over the Christmas break because it was so bitterly cold. But cold as it still was on MLK Day, we decided to visit up there after an unsuccessful attempt at a rare-bird sighting.
We felt so bad for the birds whose water dishes were frozen solid. Yet they seemed to be making the best of it. These are only a few of the pictures from that visit that are clear enough to share. Keep in mind that these birds are in large outdoor cages and the inside of the chain link fence is lined with a smaller mesh in most cases making it difficult for the camera to focus past it. (Actually, I'm sure the camera could do it if the operator (me) would learn how!)
There was a little bit of a thaw later that week and look what showed up at the feeders! A robin. They're supposed to be a sign of spring around here but I think this one was just very hungry because spring is still a long way off.
Last Sunday we had some errands to do and on a whim I told HWNSNBP that I was going to bring along the camera and we were going to try to find those birds that we were looking for earlier that week. I had seen postings that they were still in the area and figured that we just weren't there during the right time of day the first time.
As we approached the area where they had been seen I was optimistic because there was a car parked along the side of the road and a man standing there with two cameras with those humongous lenses on tripods pointed out to the cornfield.
If you were just driving by and didn't know what you were looking for at that point you would probably not have noticed them just in front of the tree line.
We pulled over and I got out of the car to use it to steady myself not having my tripod with me. And more cars started pulling over obviously trying to see what the interest was in the field. The birds also were becoming more interested in what was going on as you can see their heads were popping up and they were starting to mill together.
These are Sand Hill Cranes and they're not indigenous to our area and considered a rare bird. They stand about 48" tall and have that red patch on their head. I've read that they are hunted in other parts of the country and that they taste like pork chops but I don't think I could bring myself to finding out if they really did. I just think they are wonderful and hope that they have a safe migration.
There have also been some little swatches of beautious sunsets the last week or so. The pictures are taken through the trees for the first two as it had rained almost all day that day and the temperature dropped so quickly as the sun was setting that the driveway became a sheet of ice and there was no way my "get in the car, you're taking me to the sunset" was going to work.
This was a few nights later and I almost missed it. The colors changed so quickly. I was glad I didn't get in the car as it faded so fast and I surely would have missed it.
I hear the bluebirds in the morning as I'm leaving for work. It's nice to know that they're still within hearing distance and once in a while they can be seen checking out the nesting box in the garden. HWNSNBP has been putting out dried meal worms for them in the mealworm feeder up there. Looking forward to experiencing another nesting season with them soon.