Day 87 – Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn_Woodpecker

Woodpecker

Rhythmic tympani of woodland symphony,
His search for lunch in Quercus branch
Ads music to a forest glade.
Dawn’s chorus would the poorer be
Without his insistent cacophony

-Colin Tuckett

I hope you won’t mind another bird picture so soon. They do seem to be the most beautiful things out there to photograph these days. And with the leaves gone they are much easier to photograph. Long on my list of places I have never been but should go has been Touvelle State Park, on the Rogue River just north of Medford. With the gorgeous weather holding I decided today that there was no time like the present. Well, if I’d know the place was crawling with Acorn Woodpeckers I would have gone much sooner. I have also long wanted to get a good picture of their little clown faces. This one was so close to me I almost had to zoom out  a little to get him all in the frame. I love how you can see his little toes digging in to hang on to the tree.

 

Day 86 – Oregon Junco

Junco

Juncos

They operate from elsewhere,
some hall in the mountains–
quick visit, gone.
Specialists on branch ends,
craft union. I like their
clean little coveralls.

-William Stafford

Well, after all my moaning about the weather I had to get out and shoot today, an almost perfect day for December. But it was also a busy day. So, I threw the cameras in the car and took a quick tour around North Mountain Park between errands. I was surprised to see the sun go behind the mountains at 3:30 in the afternoon and even more surprised to see that this seemed to inspire all the birds to settle in for the night. I was gunning for a chickadee but the little rascal kept moving every time I got the camera focused on him. This Junco was more sedate and I really like the color coordinated leaf in the background.  I just got a new book of Mary Oliver poems but I said to myself, “Well, I’ll look for Junco poems but I probably won’t find one, so then I can turn to Mary.”  But darned if Oregon’s own poet laureate hasn’t written about Juncos. But don’t worry, I’m sure we will hear from Mary again before it is all over.

 

Day 77 – House Sparrow

House_sparrow

The Sorrow of Love

The quarrel of the sparrows in the eaves,
The full round moon and the star-laden sky,
And the loud song of the ever-singing leaves,
Had hid away earth’s old and weary cry.

And then you came with those red mournful lips,
And with you came the whole of the world’s tears,
And all the trouble of her laboring ships,
And all the trouble of her myriad years.

And now the sparrows warring in the eaves,
The curd-pale moon, the white stars in the sky,
And the loud chaunting of the unquiet leaves,
Are shaken with earth’s old and weary cry.

-William Butler Yeats

Raining again but I had more good pictures from Ashland Pond yesterday so why not share. I’m not sure if this little guy was trying to get a better look at me or just fluffing his feathers but I was glad to see him dip his head below that little branch that had been obscuring the picture before. And here’s something from Yeats that is not quite so dense as the last one. He’s growing on me.

Day 76 – Spotted Towhee

Towhee

Spotted Towhee

The sweetest of songs

Sung high above the treetops

A towhee’s calling

-Dorcinda Duclos

Finally a break in the rain, not too windy. I decided to make a point of trying to visit places I haven’t been in awhile or have never been to at all. So I grabbed the big lens and headed down to Ashland Pond to see what birds might be about. I thought I might be limited to a few ducks way across the pond. But then this Towhee showed up and wanted to chat. Later some sparrows and a Jay. Nothing exotic but what can you expect this time of year. It was just good to get out for a change.

Day 75 – Owl

Owl

The Owl

When cats run home and light is come,
  And dew is cold upon the ground,
And the far-off stream is dumb,
  And the whirring sail goes round,
  And the whirring sail goes round,
    Alone and warming his five wits,
    The white owl in the belfry sits.

When merry milkmaids click the latch,
  And rarely smells the new-mown hay,
And the cock hath sung beneath the thatch
  Twice or thrice his roundelay,
  Twice or thrice his roundelay;
    Alone and warming his five wits,
    The white owl in the belfry sits.

-Alfred Lord Tennyson

Another rainy day and another of my knick knacks. I think this one also came from Indian Market in Santa Fe. Owl poems for some reason seem to be terribly long. But I finally found one that I like that wasn’t too long and by someone I had actually heard of before.

Day 74 – Turkey Feather

Turkey_Feather

Around Us

We need some pines to assuage the darkness
when it blankets the mind,
we need a silvery stream that banks as smoothly
as a plane’s wing, and a worn bed of
needles to pad the rumble that fills the mind,
and a blur or two of a wild thing
that sees and is not seen. We need these things
between appointments, after work,
and, if we keep them, then someone someday,
lying down after a walk
and supper, with the fire hole wet down,
the whole night sky set at a particular
time, without numbers or hours, will cause
a little sound of thanks–a zipper or a snap–
to close round the moment and the thought
of whatever good we did.

-Marvin Bell

I have to admit, I wanted to go on strike today. But I’ve come this far so I need to power through. I found this picture of a turkey feather from a walk in Lithia Park back in September. I searched and hunted and hunted and searched for a poem to go with it. I finally said just let me find something I like and went into the November pages of my 365 poems for every occaision book. I started at the end of the month and worked back and this was the first one that resonated. And it spoke of a wild thing so it seemed appropriate enough.

Day 64 – Red Shouldered Hawk

Red_Shouldered_Hawk

The Hawk

“CALL down the hawk from the air;
Let him be hooded or caged
Till the yellow eye has grown mild,
For larder and spit are bare,
The old cook enraged,
The scullion gone wild.’
“I will not be clapped in a hood,
Nor a cage, nor alight upon wrist,
Now I have learnt to be proud
Hovering over the wood
In the broken mist
Or tumbling cloud.’
“What tumbling cloud did you cleave,
Yellow-eyed hawk of the mind,
Last evening? that I, who had sat
Dumbfounded before a knave,
Should give to my friend
A pretence of wit.’

-William Butler Yeats

On a tight schedule this afternoon I just realized I needed to get something posted now! So, I had to fall back on yesterday’s trip to North Mountain Park. When I saw this hawk all I could say is “I know you’re not a red-tailed but I don’t know what you are.” After consulting my bird book and looking at photos on line I could only conclude that he is a red-shouldered even though I couldn’t see his shoulders, the breast and tail colors all match. As for Yeats, I want so much to like him but I’m not sure I do. After the second reading I like this poem better than after the first because I realize there is some deep hidden meaning which may require a third or fourth reading and may not have too much to do with hawks.

Day 63 – Belted Kingfisher

Kingfisher

Kingfisher

Silent,
Solitary
Fisher sits; watches; waits;
Still as statue, the king;
Fish spied:
He dives.

-Alys

Finally a sunny day. I was in the neighborhood of North Mountain Park so loaded up the big lens and went hunting for birds. I was pretty happy with the shots I was getting of Juncos and sparrows and mourning doves. Then this guy showed up and I knew he had to be the star today.  Lots of poems about Kingfishers, not many good ones. I liked semi anonymous Alys’ short poem found on Hello Poetry which would qualify as a Haiku according to my Haiku teacher.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

I drive past him each day in the swamp where he stands 
on one leg, hunched as if dreaming of his own form 
the surface reflects. Often I nearly forget to turn left, 
buy fish and wine, be home in time to cook and chill. 
Today the bird stays with me, as if I am moving through 
the heron’s dream to share his sky or water—places
he will rise into on slow flapping wings or where 
his long bill darts to catch unwary frogs. I’ve seen 
his slate blue feathers lift him as dangling legs 
fold back, I’ve seen him fly through the dying sun 
and out again, entering night, entering my own sleep. 
I only know this bird by a name we’ve wrapped him in, 
and when I stand on my porch, fish in the broiler,
wine glass sweating against my palm, glint of sailboats 
tacking home on dusky water, I try to imagine him
slowly descending to his nest, wise as he was 
or ever will be, filling each moment with that moment’s 
act or silence, and the evening folds itself around me.
-T. Alan Broughton
I’m looking forward to  return to nice weather this week and getting out to shoot again. But in the meantime I am enjoying the chance to revisit older images and think about them in a more creative way. Out of about two dozed frames of Great Blue Herons in flight this is the only way that came out any where near in focus. But the bird was a little too close to the edge of the frame so I did a little Photoshop artistry and came up with this image that I really love for its simplicity.

Day 34 – Snow Geese

SnowGeese

Snow Geese

Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last! 
What a task
to ask 
of anything, or anyone, 
yet it is ours, 
and not by the century or the year, but by the hours. 
One fall day I heard
above me, and above the sting of the wind, a sound
I did not know, and my look shot upward; it was 
a flock of snow geese, winging it
faster than the ones we usually see, 
and, being the color of snow, catching the sun 
so they were, in part at least, golden. I 
held my breath
as we do
sometimes
to stop time
when something wonderful
has touched us 
as with a match, 
which is lit, and bright, 
but does not hurt
in the common way, 
but delightfully, 
as if delight
were the most serious thing
you ever felt. 
The geese
flew on, 
I have never seen them again. 
Maybe I will, someday, somewhere.
Maybe I won’t.
It doesn’t matter.
What matters
is that, when I saw them, 
I saw them
as through the veil, secretly, joyfully, clearly.

-Mary Oliver

I’ ve been trying for months to find the time and right weather conditions for a trip over the mountain to the Klamath Basin Wildlife Refuges. My calendar and the weather forecast finally aligned today so I said “I don’t care what else I have on my to do list. I’m going.” And I’m glad I did. I came home with over 300 images though I suppose most of them will have to go to the recycle bin. Those critters just refuse to sit still. But I was pleased to see some snow geese at Tule Lake and though I did see a few bald eagles and even got their portraits this image spoke to me most about the joy seeing the birds lift off in a flock as one. I thought about using Mary Oliver’s poem Wild Geese, which is my all time favorite but I thought “No, everyone has heard that one.” So when my google search turned up another Mary Oliver poem about snow geese, I was delighted, as I am delighted to share it with you.