Thursday, November 15, 2007

Birds and Branches

Most of the leaves have now fallen from our trees and bushes and the grasses at the edges of the trails have started to decay. It is easier to see little birds in the brush, although getting a picture amidst the jumble can be a challenge with an auto focus camera. I have been startled by a few birds at very close range as they have blended in with the leafless vegetation very well.
What do you see in the first picture?

I saw nothing until it moved in response to my approach. This is likely one of the last Great Blue Herons around this year. This lone straggler at the swamp was still around last week.

On a noon hour walk below the hospital grounds, I looked up in a tree by the river and noticed some eyes peering down at me. I took the picture below with my little pocket point and click camera and the Red-tailed Hawk still appears close. The bird was barely noticeable in the bare tree as it sat there without moving.

A couple of days later I saw another Red-tailed hawk sitting on top of a dead tree in the river's flood plain. Once again, I nearly walked by as from the back, the hawk looked like an extension of the stump. I have seen many hawks this month. I don't know if that is because they are migrating or if they are just more visible at this time of year.

The gulls have their winter plumage now with speckled heads, necks and chests. This one was resting on a fallen branch in the lake. I thought I may have found a Thayer's Gull but on closer inspection found it to be a winter Herring Gull. The Thayer's gull would have a brown eye instead of the yellow eye and the head would be more rounded. (like Hercule Poirot!)

I have made a list of birds that winter in Southern Ontario and will be checking the bare trees and shrubs closely on my winter walks. Perhaps I will even find an owl peering from its perch...I wish!


  1. What great camouflage in that first photo! I had to enlarge it to see it at all! :c) Love the hawks. We've been seeing more and more of them here too.

  2. Anonymous7:37 am GMT-5

    I always seem to have branches waving to me when photographing birds! Glad that I am not the only one that this happens to!

  3. Ruth,

    Your photos are awesome. I must take a walk along the river. I saw a flock of gulls there today. I'm sure there are other birds in that area as well.

    Thanks for sharing. Your photos brightened my evening. I love nature and birds always bring song and color into our world.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting on my book post. I have had my stories included in a large number of anthologies and it's alway nice to be honored in such a way.


  4. Several years ago I saw a snow white owl - it was on a telephone post - for 2 mornings in a row. Never have seen one since. Looked large even from the road.

  5. Jayne- It is surprising that such a large bird could hide so effectively in the brush.

    Monarch- I have many in focus pictures of twigs with a blurry bird in there somewhere! :-(

    Mary- Thanks- The river is becoming a better place for birds and wildlife since our municipalities are trying to improve the water quality. There are some lovely river trails in your area too.

    Jean- I can only wish!! I am always looking at fence posts when I drive in the country.

  6. Those are really neat pictures, Ruth. I'm glad you're so observant. I haven't seen any Great Blue Herons for awhile, but there are still plenty of Red-Tailed Hawks around and I never get tired of seeing them--perched in unusual places (like yours were)

  7. Way to go. You sure get a lot of sightings.

  8. Great photos, Ruth! Your heron is very blue. You are on a hawk roll and WILL see that owl. Have your camera ready.

  9. I am so grateful to enjoy your Canadian bird world. The sparrows and finches of Denver pale in comparison. We do have a Cooper's hawk and his mate in the neighborhood--I keep expecting to see one fly off with the cat. I suppose the local fox would be a more likely foe for Ninja.

    What a spectacular place, beautifully photographed by you. That bridge picture in your Pooh post is postcard perfect.

  10. RuthieJ and AC- I am getting better at spotting birds, but might fall into a hole or the river myself someday by looking up rather than down. Worse still...I imagine I may drive into a ditch while looking for an owl on a fencepost!

    Femail Doc- Thanks. I am glad you enjoy the pictures. I really need to share what I learned at the Osteoporosis Conference too.

  11. Nice birding post and photos!I enjoy the fact that some of the thick weeds are easier to see through now.-It especialy helps with sparrows.

  12. Larry- I am dreadful with sparrow ID and the leafless branches are not helping.

  13. Great photos, Ruth. These are better than the photos I took on my trip (just returned yesterday) in New Mexico. We also saw a lot of raptors everywhere throughout the state. As for the heron and the gull, I can just walk about a mile from home to see them - now those birds I can get better shots of! :o) On the other hand, raptors are more difficult.

  14. Hi Mary- Glad you had a good trip and I hope you post some of your pictures. Raptors are a challenge to photograph for sure which is why I prefer taking pictures of water birds.


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