Winter Sunshine

Yesterday, I went out to the pastures for the first time in seven days. The weather and work commitments had prevented me from getting outdoors. I really needed it. It is truly my happy place, and it offers me almost a meditative experience. The sun was shining for the first time in days. The weather was in the mid 40’s, with only a light breeze. I was content.

I hadn’t filled the platform feeder in the Pond Meadow for a week and the birds seemed quite elated that I finally showed up with seeds, peanuts and suet. An influx of European Starlings caused me to remove the suet completely at the Pond Meadow and up on my office patio. It made me to feel a bit sorry for the Carolina Wrens and the woodpeckers which seem to love the stuff. I was glad to see that the Starlings have moved on in search of more plentiful supplemental food options.

I was able to photography many of my favorites – but, best of all was a surprise. If you are in a hurry to discover it, scroll down to the bottom of the gallery. Otherwise, please enjoy these images.

I believe that these may be the best pictures of a female Northern Cardinal that I’ve taken. Such a lovely creature.

I captured a few good shots of a male Northern Cardinal, as well.

I was happy to see this handsome Eastern Bluebird perched at the top of a nearby tree. The Bluebirds don’t partake in the food that I put out at the feeder. While I sometimes offer dried mealworms, I have never seen a Bluebird snatch one while I was there. Bluebirds hold a very special place in my heart. When I could only observed birds from my patio, due to health issues, a pair of bluebirds raised a brood in a box we put out where I could watch and film them. They started my passion to film birds.

Blue Jays are known to be bullies, but I don’t have that perception of the Jays that make a living on our farm. It took me quite a long while to get even a poor quality photo of a Blue Jay, as they are quite aloof. When we put up the feeder in the Pond Meadow a few weeks went by before one considered even flying over the feeder when I was nearby. Now, they will arrive to grab a peanut, but it’s most often a very quick in-and-out and if I’m not focused when they arrive, they are gone before I get a decent photo. I haven’t seen them worry other birds.

The Carolina/Black-capped Chickadees (the verdict is still out with a 50/50 split opinion from the folks who got back to me) are also often challenging to film. They typically don’t stay in one spot for very long, but I was able to film this little guy against the clear, blue sky and capture the glint in his eyes.

The Carolina Wren seemed quite pleased to see that I filled a feeder with peanut suet nuggets. Truly, it’s amazing how quickly the birds arrived to take advantage of the goods I provided. I believe they hear the golf cart enter the Pond Meadow and fly to the position in the nearby trees while I replenish the feeders. The Chickadees, in particular begin to chirp a welcome and make their presence known. But, the Carolina Wren, that is typically hiding in the dense underbrush most of the time, also makes a quick appearance when I arrive. It feels good – like a welcoming friend.

Like the Carolina Wren, the Downy Woodpecker seems to relish the suet. The male and female of this species are unique – the male has a red mark at the back of his head. The female lacks the red, which leaves her looking as if she bears a cross.

I had not seen Goldfinches for a few weeks. It was great to see some arrive for the black sunflower seeds which they seem to enjoy. They looked a bit scruffy to me.

The House Finches are most numerous birds that visit the seed feeder in the Pond Meadow. They quite photogenic. I suspect that’s because of their coloring, which is quite varied and pops in the sunlight.

A Northern Mockingbird showed up for peanuts and suet.

The always photogenic Red-bellied woodpecker arrived several times to grab a peanut and go. She also stayed around a bit longer to snack on the suet.

I was even able to capture the quick Tufted Titmouse as it snacked on the peanut suet nuggets.

The White-crowned sparrows are quite common visitors. Their color combination lends itself to some nice shots. The birds that still have brown on their heads are juveniles.

But BEST OFF ALL… drum roll please… as I was facing east towards the platform feeder, filming the “usuals,” a strange urge came over me. I turned my gaze northwards, then kept moving over my shoulder to the west as I perused the stand of large, mature trees on the north property line. There! What is that? It was large and white. Small birds were flying near it – drawing my attention to it. It was the massive, juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk perched on a horizontal branch about 2/3 the way up a very tall tree. I would put the distance at greater than 400 feet from me, but I was able to get a few decent shots, including a couple that include the three Blue Jays which were perched to the left, below and above the big bird. They give you a perspective on how large the hawk is. He’s magnificent.

It was a great day. I hope you enjoy the photos I share with you.

2 Comments on “Winter Sunshine

  1. Thanks so much for sharing these photos and your commentary. Very fun and instructive too! Great way to start my day. Where is your farm? And if you don’t mind, could you tell me what kind of camera and lens you are using? How cool that you have this webpage for your hobbies and interests.
    Thanks, Bill Vaananen Deerfield

    • Hi Bill,
      Thank you for the feedback. We are located in Fayette Co, IL. That’s about 2/3 of the way down the State of Illinois – about midway (east/west.) I have what is often referred to as an “entry level” SLR. It’s a Cannon Rebel T7 with a 300 mm zoom lens. On good light days, and when I am close enough to the subject, I get my best shots. I appreciate your kind words!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: