Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Wednesday Vignette: That stare!

Yesterday afternoon, after a few sweaty hours working in the garden, I was headed inside for a cool drink when I caught sight of a hawk sitting at the top of the tallest pine tree in my neighbor's garden, surveying his domain and trying his best to ignore two smaller birds who persistently dive-bombed him.  For perhaps only the second time since I've had my current camera, I added the telephoto lens to take photos.

The hawk's steely-eyed focus seems complete here

But he looked discomforted at times when one or both of the scrub jays took wing to swoop at him on his perch

In between attacks, the scrub jays posted themselves just below him. I speculated that they may have a nest in that tree.

In most cases, one scrub jay remained on watch below while the second mounted an attack

Then, for some unknown reason, a crow swooped in, scattering the two scrub jays to perch on the same branch, facing the hawk.  A different kind of territorial dispute perhaps?

The hawk still didn't seem rattled but then he suddenly released an impressive spray of bird poop (which I didn't manage to capture in a photo)

And he suddenly took off, trailed by the two scrub jays


My first guess was that this was an immature Cooper's hawk but the partial view of his tail in flight suggests that it could be a mature red-tailed hawk.  My inability to accurately identify the bird had me thinking of my mother-in-law, who could have made the identification at a glance.  I miss her.

The hawk was actually the second avian visitor of note yesterday.  The male peacock that has apparently decided to make our neighborhood his home stopped by to gobble up the few remaining blueberries left on the three shrubs in pots by my back door.  He's very brazen but, as he's becoming a regular, I didn't even bother to take his photo this time.  I chased him around the garden until he elected to go elsewhere.  We seem to have had something of a critter explosion this year.  Whether that's due to two years in a row of good rain, or more people planting vegetable gardens, or simply a fluke, I can't say.

For more Wednesday Vignettes, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.


All material © 2012-2020 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

19 comments:

  1. Great photos, Kris! I love the one where the scrub jays are closing in. Interesting with the uptick in wildlife. I bet part of it is because we humans are all hunkered down at home, and not out and about as much as we used to be. Life is definitely safer out there, for all the other animals.

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    1. Yes, that could be a major factor, Anna. Just fewer cars on the main streets in and around our peninsula means fewer squashed creatures.

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  2. What luck that you had your camera with you. Great photos!

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    1. Luckier still that the hawk hung around long enough to allow me time to get the telephoto lens locked in place, Pat!

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  3. The audacity of smaller birds always amazes me, because a hawk can take down even a crow, but they choose to save their energy in pursuit of a good meal. Maybe the smaller birds know that?

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    1. They may just be driven by the instinct to protect their young, although some birds are definitely more aggressive in that pursuit than others. The California Towhees remained nearby and clicked signifying what I translated as anxiety when I got close to their nest but the mockingbirds and scrub jays are demonstrably more aggressive toward birds of prey. I've also seen crows harass coyotes, which was interesting.

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  4. Nice capture! It is always fun watching the wildlife around the house. It is specially nice when you see behavior that you don't see every day. The redtail is a handsome bird. The ones out your way are darker than what we have here. Fun for me to see too.

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    1. I've had a VERY lively time observing local wildlife this year, Lisa. I have to wonder if this year marks a permanent shift in the sheer number of critters paying visits or if it's an anomaly related to current circumstances.

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  5. Great photos Kris! I felt like I was right there front row, center stage. You are having lots of critter drama this year. Some years seem to be like that. I get one critter moved out, and another moves in. I currently have a ground hog under my deck. I need to get out the trap, catch him, and haul him to the country.

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    1. I wish I could relocate the gopher, Cindy. I bet he could be happy on one of the public trails but I don't think the local residents would be very happy about having a nuisance animal like that moved nearer to their homes. Los Angeles County is just too densely populated.

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  6. Thanks for sharing! Glad you were able to get things together with the camera in time - that is no small feat.

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    1. I thought the probability of getting telephoto shots was low, Barbara, especially as it took me minutes to figure out how to get that lens attached, having no practice doing it, but I was lucky for once.

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  7. Oh well done, fabulous shots.

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  8. Good shots! The perfect blue sky make for a wonderful background for capturing the drama taking place right in front of your eyes.
    In Seattle a hawk would be chased off immediately by a murder of crows, as would an eagle. Crows are very intelligent, brazen and extremely territorial and they bomb dive pedestrians who happen walk anywhere near there nest.

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    1. I've seen crows congregate to harass coyotes here. They're definitely tough and persistent!

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  9. You did a fabulous job of capturing the bird drama! We too are experiencing a critter explosion. No peacocks, but more than the usual number of squirrels, bunnies for the first time, raccoons and more birds too. Some welcome, some not...

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    1. I've come to terms with all the critters except the gopher, still busily tunneling through my garden beds in spite of my liberal use of deterrents. Even the raccoons look better by comparison.

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  10. Why didn’t you tell the hawk where the gopher lives?

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