I had to get up really early this morning in order to see my husband off on his annual trip to Minnesota for a work-related conference. As I was heading back home, enjoying a leisurely drive through the canyon, I spied a perched Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) silhouetted against the still gray sky and decided to pull off the road to take a few pictures.
I walked a bit futher out onto the flat, open area which used to be a fenced pasture area for horses; now, overgrown with dense chaparral on all sides. The hawk was sitting at the top of a large eucalyptus that I knew was a regular nesting spot in previous years. Sure enough, the lone hawk was soon joined in the tree by its mate. Every few minutes or so, one of the hawks (the female, I’m fairly certain) would let loose with a loud, piercing cry — keeeeeeeeee-yah! — then fall silent again. Several times in a row, the female hawk would take to the air and do some brief circling just above the tree, then as she came in for a landing, the male would flap upward as if to greet her before they both settled back into their proximal perching positions.
I so enjoyed capturing these images of them… they were an absolute joy to watch!
Not a great photo, with houses and whatnot in the background, but I’m fascinated by how different their plumage looks. Red-tailed Hawks come in many, many color forms, from very pale to very dark and every variation between. I believe that the slightly larger, reddish one is the female…
Eventually, I turned away from the now quiet, stoic hawk pair. I started back to my truck, but as I walked over a small rise, I found myself staring into the eyes of a somewhat startled looking Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus). As is often the case when they are approached slowly around our place, the deer seemed more curious about my presence than frightened. I stood very still, moving minimally to take these images…
***Be sure to click on this one to see the detail image — smiles await!!***
The deer crossed to the other side of the road…
…but then actually moved closer, nearing to 40 feet or so.
The expression on her face was one big question mark — WHO are you? WHAT are you? Whatcha’ doin’ standing in the middle of the road there?
Aloud, I said, “Hello, there. How’s it goin’?”
Her only response was an even more intense stare and a twitch of her large namesake ears.
Could she be any more beautiful with the flowering Chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum) in the background?
I watched her disappear behind my truck and then down into the sloping brush. How can you not feel like a million bucks after an encounter like that?! Quail were calling from hiding places in the dense foliage. A rabbit scampered past. I picked out the calls of California Thrasher, Phainopepla, Wrentit, Common Yellowthroat… just a few of the voices in the busy morning chatter. The sun was now cresting over the hills, its warmth and light spreading over the dark, chilly parts of the canyon.
I was so incredibly glad to be up early!! Happy and blessed. And maybe a little silly from lack of sleep… *grin* This last photo of me heading home is an homage to my friend Ro, who has made an art form of rising early and sharing her morning walks. (I don’t have a great dog like Banjo to pose with me, but I did my best!)
Did this morning hold any wonderful surprises for you?