Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Day I Thought I Finally Saw a Great Horned Owl on the Tuolumne River

I feel kind of bad for the Great Horned Owls that live along the Tuolumne River Parkway Trail. I've only seen them a few times, and one of those times, the owl was being mobbed by a bunch of angry crows. The other time, the owl constructed a nest in the top of one of the big oak trees, and I was anxiously awaiting a look at some owlets. Tragically, a huge windstorm hit and the entire nest was dislodged, and it plummeted to the ground.
The owls are nocturnal of course, and the hours for hiking the trail don't include the night, so I have to pin my hopes on seeing one sleeping up high in the trees. A week ago I thought I had finally spotted one. The outline was in the right kind of place, and looked to be the right shape, but when I got the camera on it and zoomed in, I had a real surprise. That was no owl!
So I got a quick education. During the plentiful times, a hive may be full of bees and honey, and space becomes a problem. A queen will lay some queen-type eggs, and then leave for a new home with thousands of drones in tow. Scout bees will look for a new hollow for the hive, and the bees will rest together in a large mass. They apparently will hang around for a few hours or days until the scouts have located an appropriate spot. The bees then start a new hive.

So much for my Great Horned Owl!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Biting Off More Than You Can Chew...Belted Kingfisher at Lake Washington

Here's a bird that was too successful. This Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) hit the pot of gold, enough fish to feed it for days, to consume it?
I was on a walk along the shore of Lake Washington at Gene Coulon Park early one morning in June when I spotted the poor bird and its problem of too much in the way of riches. I wonder if there is some metaphor here about income inequality or something?
Most of the time the bird leaves while I'm snapping pictures. This time I watched and watched and videoed the poor bird and it never solved its conundrum. There was a Bald Eagle nearby...I'm sure it would have offered a solution to the problem.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Bald Eagles Nesting at Neah Bay, Washington

Our trip to British Columbia didn't have a great many chances for birdwatching. Teaching a field course is like that...time after time, I'll be talking to the students about rocks or something, and some bird, quite often an unusual species will be hopping from branch to branch behind the students. I want desperately to lift the camera and start snapping away, but I'm a professional, darn it. I grit my teeth and keep talking, and students never have any idea the inner struggle I'm going through.
In any case, I had a lucky moment on our first day of our trip, when we headed out to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. The gang was touring the Makah Cultural Center at Neah Bay and I stepped out for a moment. I heard a bit of a commotion outside the museum and I looked high into a fir tree just behind the museum and saw a pair of Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) attending to their nest. There was a lot of activity, but I never got a look at any young eagles.