Good morning? Nope… Great morning!!

pre-sunrise hills


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.


red-tailed hawk solo

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.


red-tailed hawk landing

red-tailed hawk pair landing

I so enjoyed capturing these images of them… they were an absolute joy to watch!


red-tailed hawk pairNot 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…


mule deer emerging***Be sure to click on this one to see the detail image — smiles await!!***


The deer crossed to the other side of the road…


mule deer crossing

…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.


mule deer & chamise

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.


sunrise hills


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!)

shadow walking

Did this morning hold any wonderful surprises for you?

Harsi / May 11, 2011 / birds, hillsides, mammals, skies


  1. Chris - May 11, 2011 @ 1:33 pm

    Sure sounds like an excellent morning! Must be amazing to be able to wake up to all of that. Only wonderful surprise my morning held today was a cockroach in the bathroom which quickly became an object of fascination for my cats once they found out about it. Hah! Doesn’t quite compare to your story, does it? 😉 The mule deer close-up definitely brought a smile to my face. And I’m glad that I’m not the only one that talks to the animals I encounter!

  2. Harsi - May 11, 2011 @ 1:51 pm

    Aaaah, but at least you had your fantastic cats there with you to provide some entertainment. (It could have just been you and the cockroach.) 🙂 I’m joking of course, and believe me I know that I live in a truly amazing place — there is never a day that goes by when I am not deeply thankful. Your story did make me laugh though because late (late!) last night when I was still busy helping get stuff packed, I reached for a box of my husband’s razor cartridges, then quickly pulled my hand back and had to suppress a “yelp” when I saw a big soldier beetle perched on top. HA! (Those guys are EVERYWHERE right now — they love the porch light and inevitably find their way inside.) Oh, and I DEFINITELY talk to the animals!! Plants too! Hmmm… and sometimes the sky, and the sun, and the rain. Well, you get the point! *grin*

  3. ro - May 12, 2011 @ 7:03 am

    Wow I loved the hawk pictures especially of the pair, gorgeous. You do Have the deer, dear such an adorable shot of that deer liking it’s chops, and the familiar shadow shot. Being in my mid 50’s I’d say that’s my good side 🙂 I’m glad you had a wonderful day, ours was FULL as you guessed. Umm The Back Abbey! xo

  4. Harsi - May 12, 2011 @ 9:05 am

    Hullo, Ro! Yeah, I thought you would have really loved being with me on the trail that morning! The hawk couple were something special… gonna’ try and go back and visit with them again. Those that know you would assure you that you don’t HAVE a bad side… only good stuff there! But, yes, I too prefer images of myself to be shadowy and one-dimensional. Or, the classic, back o’ the head shot! HA!

  5. Lisa - May 12, 2011 @ 8:57 pm

    Very cool stuff, Harsi. I love it all. Especially your question of “How’s it goin’?” And your pictures are special — LOVE the pair of hawks!!!! Glad you got up early to see it all. Otherwise, we’d miss it too 🙂 xxoo

  6. Harsi - May 12, 2011 @ 9:03 pm

    I ALWAYS ask the critters how they’re doin’ when we cross paths like that… they never seem to have anything to say, but maybe if I just keep asking… then some day…. ??? (Ya’ never know!) It really was a great day — first, to have had the experiences I did… and second, to get to share them with some of my favorite people! 🙂 xo


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