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.

Day 22 – Weathervane

WeatherVane

“You who travel with the wind, what weather vane shall direct your course?”

-Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

This is probably not the best image I made today but my New England adventure is winding down and one of the things I have enjoyed photographing is weather vanes. This one has some character and some fall color so I thought it would be a good one to share.

Day 5 – Scrub Jay

ScrubJayw

The Blue Jay

No brigadier throughout the year
So civic as the jay.
A neighbor and a warrior too,
With shrill felicity

Pursuing winds that censure us
A February day,
The brother of the universe
Was never blown away.

The snow and he are intimate;
I ‘ve often seen them play
When heaven looked upon us all
With such severity,

I felt apology were due
To an insulted sky,
Whose pompous frown was nutriment
To their temerity.

The pillow of this daring head
Is pungent evergreens;
His larder — terse and militant —
Unknown, refreshing things;

His character a tonic,
His future a dispute;
Unfair an immortality
That leaves this neighbor out.

                           – Emily Dickinson

Today I took to one of my favorite neighborhoods for a camera walk. Ashland’s Railroad District is an eclectic mix of businesses and older homes. There are always interesting things to photograph in shop windows and on front porches. There are textures of old wood and rusty metal, flowers blooming, gracious tree lined streets. But today I was only half a block into it when this fellow showed up and perched in a tree where I was contemplating whether the dead leaves were autumnal enough. I knew immediately I had the days image, but I took the walk anyway and came home with many other treasured shots: The hood ornament of an old car shot through a chain link fence, dahlias, zinnias, and crepe myrtle, maple leaves, a glass pear, an old gas pump, a cut out of humpty dumpty, a garden gnome, and a statue of Buddha holding a seashell and, of course, I can never walk by the Coca-Cola sign on the side of the Peerless Hotel without taking at least one picture.

Flamingo

Flamingow

I have been systematically working my way through old photo files to find opportunities to create new art. Found this one from a trip to the Albuquerque zoo in 2009. I added a background paper from Anna Aspnes that perfectly complemented the color and did some brush work using water color brushes.

Avocet

Avocet1

I went to California looking for wildflowers, which I found, but it was so windy it was hard to get any closeups and it was cloudy so the landscapes were dull. I finally retreated to the wildlife refuge where I found birds aplenty including a pair of American Avocets. Sadly I did not realize until I got home that my depth of field was too shallow to get them both in focus at the same time. So I settled on this individual portrait.

Eagle

Eaglew

This one started out as an exercise to force myself to use my Wacom Tablet and pen instead of a mouse. It worked very well for masking out many extraneous branches. I had put it on a watercolor wash background but when I tried to blend the eagle it was too blue. So then I tried a warm toned overlay and started through the blending modes. When I hit Color Burn this popped up and I said “Oh, yeah!”