"I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.
For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free." ~Wendell Berry

Friday, February 2, 2018

All Hail the Predators of Winter

When it comes to spotting the apex predators, we have had a wonderful winter. This is why I love it here so much. When your own heartbeat seems to keep pace with rhythms around you, the joy of it all is hard to describe.
I had been catching brief glimpses of this Barred Owl every morning since mid-December. But, not being a morning person, I struggled to remind myself every morning, "check the tree limbs, before you turn on your office lights". I had managed to catch a video of her on one of the bluebird boxes that I could view from my office window:

So, it was such a raw and pure delight when, on the afternoon of Jan. 5th, Bob & Nikki decided I needed to go for a walk. Mid-way through our walk, we both realized we had left our phones at home. "Of course!", I said to myself. "This means we will see something wonderful and not be able to take a picture"!
And with that self-fulfilling prophecy thrown out to the Universe, that is EXACTLY what happened. As we rounded a corner on the northwest edge of the property, Nikki flushed our Barred Owl out of the fallen leaf litter. And she flew about 30' from us and landed on a limb only 10' off the ground. As I huffed and puffed, running to the house to fetch my camera, I thought, "she'll be gone when I return". But she wasn't.

She graced me with her presence for over 30 minutes - as I snapped over a hundred photos and finally remembered to turn on the video function of my camera. Seriously, I am in love. What a gorgeous, magical, mysterious creature! She has been frequenting all the bird houses and low tree limbs in the northern half of the property, using them as hunting perches.
I have seen her every day, sometimes more than once a day, perching on the Bluebird box.  This will not go over well with the local Gobbler's Knob Community Housing Authority when nesting season starts, if she is still here.  I suspect the Tufted Titmice, Chickadees and Bluebirds will be complaining the loudest.
She started to look bored and sleepy when I finally activated the video function of my camera.

Yesterday, as I watched over my bird feeders, I noticed a very small, but Kestrel-sized hawk landing on the feeder supports. As I filmed it, I realized it was a Sharp-shinned hawk - very small, but very deadly.  Ok, but move on by end of February, Buster!
Then today, as I stared out my window at the clearing fog and the gathering clouds and watched the leaves blow in the increasing winds, I noticed 2 'different' larger-than-buzzards birds, soaring above the Northern Tier.  By the time I retrieved my movie camera and card, they had circled toward the neighbor's 200 acres, but it was clear - the mated pair of Bald Eagles from Montauk were soaring around, searching for food. *STAY OUT OF MY POND*!!
It is so exciting to read the eagles' numbers are rebounding: http://krcgtv.com/news/local/rebound-of-the-bald-eagle-a-mid-missouri-camera-lens
I so admire the Predators of Winter - they are bold, brave and determined in their hunt. They are exposed for all to see and admire. They don't have the luxury of hiding in trees covered with leaves as others do during the summer.  The Predators of Winter have to be strong, stealthy and quick if they want to eat and survive and I have a front row seat where I can see it all.