After getting skunked for the last few days, I’ve finally got something to show you, and given the nature of this project, perhaps I should clarify that by “skunked” I mean coming up empty, not being sprayed by a skunk, which I would definitely endure in exchange for a good picture, but that would be a different story. I saw no skunks in the park today.
Instead, I enjoyed the rare treat of this truly magnificent creature tolerating my presence at a surprisingly close range while it was waiting for another crack at a squirrel who was busy warning everyone within earshot, and I am not to surprised to read that squirrels listen to other birds to assess the danger.
I spotted what I hoped might be a raptor from seemingly a mile away, and I had to check with binoculars to make sure it wasn’t just some snow on a tree. As I made my way towards it, at one point it made a try for a squirrel, but came up empty, and I was thrilled when it settle back down in the vicinity for me to continue my pursuit. In the end, I even crossed some of the frozen river, all the while trying to make it look like I wasn’t ever walking straight towards it, as my friend Drew suggested. I ended up about 20 feet away and right next to a tree to which I could hold my camera to eliminate jiggling. After I figured I must have gotten one good shot (out of 50+!) I continued north and was able to confirm from behind that it is indeed a red-tailed hawk, not some cheap knock-off, and it might even be the one we saw back in January feasting on a different squirrel.
Anyway, the river continues to freeze over, but a slew of intrepid goldeneyes, common mergansers, and even some mallards are sticking around in the few remaining wet spots. There was not a single water fowl on the upper river today, however, and that was long after the one bald eagle I saw had already flown past.
Instead, a certain chickadee almost seemed unwilling to admit it had made a mistake by landing on a branch too closed to me. As I carefully took out my camera, it pretended not to notice that I was only 6 feet away and quite casually went about its business. Sweet.
After glimpsing an eagle and photographing a hawk, I had a hope that I might get lucky at the pond, and I did, but not in the way I expected. Instead, these two colorful characters provided these close-ups that almost looked staged, right?
And these little cuties could not seem to be less concerned about me. I half expected either one of them to check my head next. I’ve thought there must be bugs in there for years now.