Saturday, October 10, 2009
But in the meantime, for those of you within range, the documentary Wild New York, that I did with South African director Adam Welz, will be screening at the Madison Film Festival on November 7th.
Actually this photograph belongs between the next two. So imagine it in it's proper place. (Still adjusting to the the new programs. Arg! And for whatever reason I can only place three photos on each post????)
Friday, October 09, 2009
Thursday, October 08, 2009
This post started out to be the fauna seen from dawn to dusk in a single day. It's taking my current gear far too long to get it assembled. Therefore an adjustment had to be made.
Readers of long standing will remember I have to load photographs onto the blog from last to first. This post will be the segment right before sunset. My apologies.
There is hope for the future though as Friday I have an appointment to have a 10x faster internet line put in. 10x faster isn't nearly as fast as it could be but 10x faster than what I have is 10x faster.
Ah yes, back to the photograph at the top. The raptor in that tree is a Red-tail. And I'm about 90% sure that that Red-tail is Steam as opposed to Mrs. Steam but I'm open to correction.
Steam has just flown in and perched on one of his favorite spots for not only hunting but also for spotting intruders. The Steams have had a bad day when it comes to intruders and Thresherman's Park has been alive with their Keeer-r-r keeer-r-r's throughout the day. Along with hot winging Red-tails zooming directly overhead, they're usually much more discreet than that here, complete with a variety of dives into the woods.In the meantime, young Roger Sandhill does a few flaps and a wing stretch. He truly is a big boy with perhaps a little more than the usual wing span of six to seven feet.
Roger does another stretch, rather dwarfing his mother. Remember how some local folks told me that if one keeps the car running that the birds will be less likely to flush away? Well, with the cranes who aren't as skittish as some of the other birds that frequent the Park, I can turn off the motor of the car as long as I leave the radio playing.
Steam checks the view to the west.
Roger and Claire have found a particularly good spot, probably a cob of corn as they are overlapping one another. Dad Jamie would have given Claire the right of way and stood back.
I'd discovered how to set the tripod and camera up inside the car and had been photographing from that rather cramped and precarious position. Then I got the bright idea that perhaps the Crane family had seen me often enough that I might be able to move the whole set up outside the car, where things would be easier. Nope, they took one look and started walking with some speed in the opposite direction.
And before I knew it they had taken to their wings.
I start to hear a Blue Jay scold and look back. The Jay has taken over the tree where Steam had previously been holding sway.
Monday, October 05, 2009
Jamie and Roger (Claire too, but she was out of frame.) forage at the far side of the west field by the treeline.
I'd gotten out of the house late as you can see by the light. I was just trying to get the camera into position when Gaylord Hooker, one the Thresheree members, pulled up on his tractor for a discussion of the turkeys he'd seen today. Then off he went towards home. His home being just up the road a very small piece and locking the north gate behind him.
While I was attempting rather fruitlessly to adjust the camera for the low light, suddenly my phone rang. It was Gaylord.
He reported that there was a hawk eating roadkill near his place and I should come take a look. A HAWK! I hadn't seen one in days. The car was already running so as to allay any wariness on the part of the cranes but when I whipped the car around...
...and looked back there they were. The Sandhills had taken to their wings.
I grabbed the camera I'd dumped in the passenger seat and tried taking a photo without turning it on. Duh.
I whip round again and head for the south gate, a much longer way to go and hit Cox then Kidder roads. My, my, look who is coming from the other direction. It's Gaylord again with an update.
When he'd pulled back out of his driveway again the hawk had gone up into the farmer's maple tree across the road.
Ah ha! THE maple tree in question, but to pretend I'm doing something "normal" I pull into Gaylord's driveway and...unfortunately I can't see the Maple tree from his yard. I barge into the bushes hoping I don't look too irregular to the hawk if he's still there. I look. I look. I look. I can't see a hawk up there. Hmmm, I look up and down the road for the kill. I don't see it. Where is it anyway?
I call Gaylord back. He says it's further to the west past the maple and on the far verge that dips in the other direction. I'm looking and suddenly a swiftly running mammal...is that a FOX, zips across the road and into the shrubbery across from the road kill. No, probably not a fox. I just want to see a fox and it's probably just one of the big farm cats. I'm still talking to Gaylord and WHAT...?There he is--BYE! Likely from the angle, he'd come out of that Maple I couldn't find him in. Sneaky bugger.
And like any good hawk who is making a break for it, he heads for the treeline. Zip, behind the tree.
And ZIP, he comes out the other side. And he's curving towards my side of the road.
And look, it wasn't just wishful thinking. It is a FOX. A red one. A little beauty with dark black socks; likely a vixen by her size. And she's checking out the goodie too.
Sunday, October 04, 2009
The family of Sandhill Cranes, Grus canadensis, which comes to forage at Thresherman's Park late in the day.
I discovered earlier this week that the Cranes had been named from The Outlander series of books by one of the members of the Thresheree. From left to right- Mom is Claire. Dad is Jamie. And young Roger, their youngster from this year, is on the right.
Note that Roger still has some left over brownish immature feathers on the top of his head. And he has yet to get the red crown of a mature bird, a field mark for the species. One of the other field marks is the tufted tail.
The other day I took a hundred plus pictures of them and have been attempting to figure out exactly what they were doing. Unfortunately all that figuring meant that I wasn't doing a daily post. Sooooo...once I figure it out I'll you know to scroll down to find it. Each segment posts on the day it was started not on the day it publishes.
In the meantime we have some catching up to do...
Steam the Red-tailed Hawk has been being mobbed by the five resident Crows on a daily basis. Why in particular it is happening now as the resident Crows have yet to be joined by other over wintering Crows I don't know. Crows in a murder often throw their weight around. This is a little early in the progression of the cycle for Red-tails to get the full Crow onslaught.
News of fascinating fossils from long time contributor Robin of Illinois--
The discovery of five remarkable new fossils has confirmed that birds evolved from dinosaurs, Chinese scientists said last night.
Because the fossils, unearthed in north-eastern China, are older than previous discoveries of similar creatures, the find adds weight to the theory that birds descended from predatory dinosaurs.
The fossils all have feathers or feather-like structures. The clearest and most striking of the specimens can be seen to have four wings, extensive plumage and profusely feathered feet.
One of the scientists who made the discovery, Xu Xing, will reveal details of his find in Bristol at the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology.
"These exceptional fossils provide us with evidence that has been missing until now," Xu said. "Now it all fits neatly into place and we have tied up some of the loose ends."
The finds date back to between 151m and 164m years ago, which suggest they are older than archaeopteryx, previously thought to be the oldest undisputed bird.
Xu, who is based in Beijing, said: "The fossils provide confirmation that the bird-dinosaur hypothesis is correct, and supports the idea that birds descended from theropod dinosaurs (the group of predatory dinosaurs that includes allosaurus and velociraptor)."
The fossils were found in Liaoning province. Xu told the Guardian he was shocked when he first saw the best of the specimens. "This was really unexpected. One thing that would shock you is that this is covered with feathers everywhere except the beak and the claw," he said. "It is the first feathered species known so far; the earliest known feathered species."
There have been fakes before. A creature that came to be known as archaeoraptor, with the body of the bird and the tail of a dinosaur, sent the world of palaeontology into a flutter after apparently being found in China. It was later proved a fake, not unearthed by scientists, but bought at a rock show in the US. China is an increasingly important centre for palaeontology because so much of the country's rocks remain unexplored. A sizeable contingent from China is attending the conference in Bristol, one of the largest gatherings of palaeontologists ever.
Xu said: "The first question we wanted to know was is it fake or real? We checked in detail and convinced ourselves there was no problem. We are 100% sure we are looking at a real species, not a fake one. It's one of the most important for understanding the origin of birds."
Feathers cover the arms and tail, but also the feet, suggesting that a four-winged stage may have existed in the transition to birds. The fossils will also help scientists work out the mechanics of how early birds flew. The specimens have been identified as types of Anchiornis huxleyi. The details of the find will also be announced in Nature.