The weather hasn’t always been a helpful reminder, but it is June and so Life’s been pretty busy lately. I am rather far behind in posting, but at least the good news is, when I finally do get myself organized, there are a few posts already in the planning stages. The thing is, the week past has been very much about taking photographs, so I’ve got lots of raw material to share.
This past weekend, I was asked to stand-in for a friend as a Wedding Photographer’s assistant. For the occasion, I got to use/play with the very sweet digital camera of that friend – Kate – and the terribly cool telephoto lens that comes along with it. [Thanks, Kate, not only for the extended chance to have some fun with your sweet camera (I don’t know where it is, really! Wink.), but also for passing along the opportunity to try something new this weekend.]
For me, that meant bird photos. While I have had some success from time to time, mostly bird photography is often a source of frustration with my little point-and-shoot camera. I enjoyed the chance to have a lens that’d let me get right up in the trees with my feathered friends.
And it’s been a good bird-watching week for the Catsby and I. He and I sometimes disagree lately. With the cool, damp days we’ve had, I’ve wanted to have the windows in the apartment closed more often than not, as mold is the state flower here on the coast and it is quick to invade. He, on the other paw, prefers them open so he can hear the least sound in the bird feeders down below. This turned out to be funny, since the starlings apparently fledged this past week and were noisily EVERYWHERE out the windows, sounding for all the world like a re-staging of some classic Hitchcock in our side yard. There was nothing least about it.
(By the way, have you ever seen this?)
Lots of the birds are fledging, it seems, as evidenced by the sheer number of them flying out in front of my car this past week. Robins, cardinals, assorted blackbirds, all of them apparently attracted to the locust blossoms falling from the trees onto the pavement. I do try to drive mindfully, so I’m not stopping short from them as they dart across the road, but also so that I’m not going so fast that they don’t stand a chance when they do.
Our “personal” robin – the one living underneath my deck, with the Many Nests – has not hatched out a brood yet, though I do believe she actually has one in progress. I was on the deck the other evening, listening to the massively-loud serenade/diatribe of a single chipmunk when I was buzzed by She, close enough that the breeze of her passing ruffled my hair.
I have since taken to donning the pithe helmet when I feel I absolutely have to be out there (for dead-heading and watering windowboxes), but mostly, I am waiting patiently for her tenancy to come to conclusion.
And She is still watching me.
The evening I first got to play with the camera was one of the few nice ones we’ve had this month and so I headed out on safari to see what I could get up to. At that point, there’d been no dive-bombing and so I was on the deck when I first heard the great commotion and spotted one of our neighborhood hawks perched in the taller of the two pine trees by the driveway.
S/he was surrounded with a great cloud of birds, large and small, all greatly agitated by the predator’s presence. Some seemed to sit alertly nearby, as if trying to establish some sort of sycophancy as self-preservation. The chirring and squawking of the starlings reminded me of the hyenas in The Lion King.
A great many other birds, including assorted blackbirds, robins and orioles all set to diving at the hawk, in an apparent effort to drive the larger bird away. I’ve seen this business many times over the years, but never when I had such a wonderful camera at my disposal to capture the action.
Eventually, the Hawk seemed to grow bored with both the fawning and the fighting, spread its wings and was suddenly in the air, trailing a stream of other birds behind it. It hadn’t seemed to be especially bothered by the hub-bub. Of course, all those other birds followed close behind, squawking as they went “Awww, aww, and stay out…”. As if.
Quite the spectacle. I love how close that one blackbird is – it looks like he’s actually riding on the hawk’s back.
I mentioned the locust tree blossoms before. The world has smelled very nice lately, what with the locusts’ honeyed fragrance mixing in the air with the perfume of all those new-blooming roses and peonies. During my wedding adventures this weekend, I was introduced to the idea of eating these little white flowers.
As we often do, I scoffed mildly at first, but then my curiosity got the better of me and I couldn’t resist trying a handful…and ate every one of them. As you might guess, there’s a nice honey flavor, with a strong salad green finish. Quite tasty…and I hear they are the bomb folded gently into some fresh whipped cream.
It’s probably too late for you to find any this year, but next, you should totally seek some out for a nibble. I highly recommend doing so.
The sun lingered long enough to enjoy a nice sunset walk to the bay that evening (last Monday, I believe it was), a chance to get lost in my thoughts and to play with the new camera and do some close-up birding. I was tickled with this sparrow’s song, so delightfully sweet and intricate and happy…almost painfully so, it seemed at the time. But I guess you don’t get to be called a song sparrow unless you’ve got a few really pretty notes to share.
I got to the bay just in time for sunset, but by that point had only enough memory card or battery for these two images, which, thankfully, turned out to be fairly nice ones. Sometimes I like when the technology “fails” though – it’s good to be reminded to just sit and appreciate a sunset now and then.