Friday, July 27, 2007

Herry The Heron Eats Crappie

I’ve been trying to get a good shot of a great blue heron catching or feeding on a fish. At least one of these shy and solitary birds has been flying in and out of the cove since this morning.

However, I've either run out of memory waiting for the right photo, or the bird turns his back on me, or he steps out of range, or some noise frightens the bird and he flees the cove. He’s even chased a smaller heron from his territory, but no luck getting the right shot, until it started pouring rain.

I looked out the window during the high point of the storm -- lightening, thunder, high winds -- and here comes Herry the Heron gracefully flapping into the cove, and choosing a spot very favorable to my photographing him from the front picture window.

Perfect time to hunt, too: no motor boats, no joggers, no golf carts or ATVs racing along the shore. Just loud claps of thunder, which, oddly, don’t bother him.

Wish I could say I got the perfect photo of him capturing a fish, but, again, my memory card was full. I even thought I had the best shot of the day, a long view of the lake, with a zoom into the heron.

So I uploaded the video onto my computer, emptied the card, and went back to the picture window. As I did, Herry plunged into the lilies. By the time my camera was positioned, the heron was trying to subdue and gulp down a good size crappie, as shown above.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Chippie the Chipmunk, RIP

Warning: This story might make you think twice about feeding the wild animals.

About a month ago, I began putting a row of raw sunflower seeds on the railing of my deck, just in the morning. Even though I’d argued with people like my Aunt Helen, for example, that feeding the animals interfered with nature, I did it anyway because I found it entertaining.

The seed would mostly attract nuthatches and tufted titmice until Chippie the Chipmunk discovered the food source, and would climb the rail and vacuum clean every last seed until his pouches were full. If I knocked on the picture window, or went to the deck and scared him away, he’d keep coming back until he succeeded.

Today it was different. I bought a bag of dark oil sunflower seeds on my daily trip the market. First time I'd purchased special seeds for the birds, first time I'd put seeds out past noon. It attracted dozens of birds, but no Chippie, and even though it was raining, sometimes heavily, the birds came anyway.

About 1pm, I finally saw Chippie, not eating seeds on the railing, but climbing a tree just outside the front porch window. He stopped at my eye level and looked. I think he was looking at me.

An hour passed. I walked through the living room. Something caught my eye. I looked out the picture window. I saw Chippie on another tree, far up the trunk. Suddenly, a very large red-tailed hawk swooped to the tree, grabbed Chippie in his talons, pulled him off the bark, and flew two lots down.

At first I said, well, nature has taken its course, and then I thought, no, if it hadn’t been for me feeding the animals, Chippie wouldn’t be Red’s lunch.

I ran to the next yard, saw the hawk, heard Chippie squeaking. I ran at the hawk, but it flew through the trees with the chipmunk dangling from its talons. Suddenly it started to pour rain. My glasses were covered with water so I couldn't see a damn thing. I didn’t see the hawk anywhere, but I heard Chippie. He squeaked for a long time.

I haven't seen a bird on the railing since the incident.

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