Wednesday, November 11, 2009

No expectations, and then WHAM

The day started gloomy and damp. By 1:30pm getting to the park seemed possible. I expected nothing. Yesterday had been quiet and grey, few birds, so I had no expectations. As I strolled by the side of the lake I saw a "pigeon" sitting on a rock. My brain thought, "Dumb pigeon", but I looked at it through the lens. Holy cow! A cooper's hawk! I never saw a cooper's hawk on the ground let alone just sitting. The squirrels were scampering around. The hawk sat, one-legged, watched but made no attempt to catch a squirrel. I watched for 40 minutes and the hawk watched everything. Finally I saw Mike. He knows everyone in the Rambles. I beckoned for him to come over. In the moment that I turned to beckon the hawk departed. It flew across the lake then back into the Rambles where I lost it up in the trees.

That was okay, better than I had expected. It was still very quiet, eerily quiet. No sparrows, no bluejays, no starlings, no cardinals, not a sound expect for scampering squirrels. I walked looking high in the trees. A clump! Could it be? Yowee, it could, the great horned owl! Peek-a-boo time. Oh, I can't wait till more leaves fall. This was a real trial. Back lighting, low light, hidden in leaves, light diminishing. This was a fine photo test. I was compensating for back light, low light and eventually no light. ISO- everything from 800 to 3200. Spookily, just before fly-out a flock of white-throated sparrows appeared and ate seeds off the ground, a carpet of sparrows out of nowhere. What doesn't show in the last few pictures is that the sky was dark, nightfall. Digital magic. The final owl shot taken in darkness works best in monochrome. At 4:53pm the owl flew from its roost tree to another tree near by and then towards Bow Bridge. This was the first time I'd ever seen an owl fly. Awesome. Silent. Enormous wing span. The lake light-reflection is one way to show that the park was in darkness.

You can imagine how this made me feel (aside from being frozen).... this magnificent bird, teasing the whole time through the leaves and then the silent departure. Such beauty. Grace and power.


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