22 November 2014

Photographic failure

So far this month, there's been a Merlin in a tree, Red-bellied Woodpecker, two, side-by-each, Red-tailed Hawks -- it's a very popular tree -- and, in a different tree, the winter's first Northern Shrike.  There's been some impressive leaves, too, back at the start of the month.  Swans have gone over, way high up; so have Sandhill cranes, not quite so far up.

Flying by there have been Red-Tails, including a kettle of five so pale the belly-band "Charlie Brown sweater" markings were almost invisible and the dark patagium didn't show, so only the black primary tips and the red rectrices showed as colour on the bird.  I sometimes joke that some of our passing red-tails are so pale you suspect there's some snowy owl ancestry somewhere, but this bunch looked absolutely spectral.

There have been Red-Shouldered Hawks, the occasional harrier, ghosting through with a flight style a bit like a gangly peregrine got drunk, the occasional eagle, these last few late-season days of bad wind rowing through like some disreputable god granted the essence of sulk feathers and hunger for a shape.  Most of the accipiters and falcons are gone; they eat birds, and most of the birds are gone.  Yesterday there were a surprising number -- seven! -- of Rough-Legged Hawks, which is a really good day for Toronto.

There was even a probable Swainson's Hawk, presumptively working its way back from where this relentless wind put it after having failed to blow it clean to Iceland.  (If one could somehow withstand the temperatures and avoid the polar bears, I suspect there are a lot of confused migrants to be seen along the coast of Labrador this week.)

I have, alas, failed to get decent pictures of anything; you can, for example, tell it's a shrike or a merlin or that, yeah, the red-tail on the left is the juvenile, but between holding up a wee pocket camera in cold hands, branches swaying in the wind, and the poor auto-focus' less than complete understanding of the bird, drat it, not the slightly nearer branch, has not been kind to the eventual results.

So no pictures, and few postings in consequence.