Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Visitors (Hawk & Swans)

So, Sunday we were rather surprised to see a hawk in the maple tree outside our dining room/kitchen. Clearly it'd noticed our finch feeder and suet feeder and interpreted this as a buffet for a hungry hawk (not that there are any other kind). Unfortunately for it, word had obviously gotten out and all the finches, chickadees, juncos, red-wing blackbirds, and less frequent visitors had all made themselves conspicuous by their absence. The hawk stayed a good half-hour, for a good bit of which it repeated the somewhat strange behavior of puffing out its wings over and over. I thought perhaps it'd been injured, but Janice was reminded of the way the hawks at the raptor exhibit at the zoo fluff out their feathers to cover prey once they've got it. Perhaps it was anticipating in hopeful fashion, perhaps it was just staying warm. In any case, the only bird it saw was our resident hummingbird, whom I've recently dubbed Goliath (who spent the whole of a bitterly cold week sitting on the dowel beside his feeder, scanning the sky for rivals -- whom I've collectively given the name 'Godot'). Goliath didn't hide but simply got higher up in the same tree as the hawk to monitor the situation, apparently feeling confident that he cd outfly any hawk that didn't get the drop on him. I daresay he's right.

And then, yesterday as I was coming home, I noticed four large white birds in the nearby lake that gives The Lakes their name. It was dusk and I cd only see them briefly as I drove by, but they looked like swans to me -- it might just be possible that they were white geese, but from the way they towered over the ducks they were swimming among I thought not. Then today I saw them again -- except this time there were ten in all. I pulled over and walked back to have a better look: despite the distance, my bad eyesight, and the fading light there was no doubt. I'm didn't know swans were gregarious -- I'd always thought them fiercely territorial, but maybe when they migrating the flock together. Now I'm hoping they stay around for a few days so Janice gets a chance to see them.

In the words of Fats Waller, it just goes to show: one never knows, do one?

--John R.


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