Posts Tagged ‘cormorants’

Often there are as many as seven or eight cormorants perched in this tree overlooking one of the lakes in the Riparian Preserve. The two on either side appear to be watching the one in the middle groom/preen. They must be taking a break from fishing.

As I’ll probably be doing often during this month, I’m doubling or tripling up on challenges in order not to drive you all mad with multiple posts on multiple days. This is for “blue” and “FOTD.” You get a bonus visitor too.

Ann-Christine gives us the choice today to pick what we’d like to share and her beautiful flowers can literally be picked. What do I have here in Arizona? Since our move just over a year ago, other than cacti, I’ve been mostly taking photos of birds, so here are a few recent favorites.

Let’s drop in at the Riparian Preserve and see what we can find. A harrier hawk is always fun.

“He imagines a necessary joy in things that must fly to eat.”
― Wendell Berry

“In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.”
― Robert Lynd

Then there’s the spoonbill who came during one of the storms in the south and has been here all winter. Here it’s balancing on one leg while looking astonished. Is that like rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time? Pretty in pink but what a big mouth!!

may my heart always be open to little birds who are the secrets of living ~e. e. cummings

There are lots of spectacular birds but there are also the cute, more approachable ones that you might see in your yard.

Wherever there are birds, there is hope. Mehmet Murat Ildan

If you’re a fish, you’d prefer to see this haughty cormorant perched on a limb rather than in the water where they run silent, run deep, run deadly.

Tomorrow, the birds will sing. Be brave. Face life. ~Charlie Chaplin

A pod of pelicans arrived towards the end of last year and a few have stuck around. I didn’t realize that pairs like this fish and swim in tandem, for all the world like synchronized swimmers. Of course the swimmers don’t usually eat fish while performing, at least I hope not!

And now it’s back to the weekend. I hope you’re enjoying yours.

This week Tina has set us a daunting task: to share special moments with the Lens-Artists community. Just the thought of trying to choose only five or six special moments out of all the years of photos almost made me give up in despair. Instead, I decided instead to limit my special moments to moments since moving to Arizona just under a year ago…and believe me, that’s hard enough!

Not long after we arrived at our new rental house, the torch cactus in the backyard bloomed with beautiful flowers that have a fleeting life of only about one day. I was stunned by their beauty and thrilled that they bloomed a number of times in the ensuing weeks. What a welcome to the desert! But like much of the desert, be careful how close you get! Beauty and danger have a habit of co-existing here.

On several visits to the Riparian Preserve, I’d spoken with a birder from, judging by his accent, either Boston or that part of the world, about the harrier hawk (he pronounced it “hairyah”) that he was an expert on. This day I followed him down a back path where he not only pointed out the hawk but told me about where he thought her nest was, her usual flight patterns, and so on. Here’s one of my shots of that special moment.

copyright janet m. webb

This pollen-covered bee ecstatically dancing in a poisonous datura flower was definitely a moment that brought joy to my heart.

copyright janet m. webb

Me finally catching a cormorant catching a fish was pretty exciting as was catching him drop it and an egret snatching it away a few minutes later.

copyright janet m. webb

There’ve been so many more special moments since we’ve moved: in Sedona and Saguaro National Park, seeing a vermillion flycatcher at Tuscon’s Sweetwater Wetlands and seeing alpine growth at the top of Mt. Lemmon. The most special moments though don’t have any photos…being here to spend time with and help out my aging parents and, weirdest of all the special moment, the three of us getting our second Covid vaccinations as well and my husband getting his first. What a year when getting shots is probably the highlight!

This last shot may not seem special but it’s of the only squirrel I’ve seen in this area since we moved here. Small joys.

Although when in the sleepy pod the first day I saw them these American pelicans looked, with the exception of their exceptional beaks, completely white, on this day they were showing off their underlying black decorative touches.

“Life is better in black and white!”
― Avijeet Das

“When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls!”
― Ted Grant

Does this count for birds, too? Stretch those wings!

“The most colorful thing in the world is black and white, it contains all colors and at the same time excludes all.”
― Vikrmn, 10 Alone

Little photo bombing snowy egret in the background.

Photo bombing again, but in aggressive cormorant black. Doesn’t the middle pelican look as if it has its proverbial hands on proverbial hips in annoyance?

It’s also Pearl Harbor Day here in the U.S. as well as my mom’s and good friend’s birthdays. Can you imagine living in California and having your birthday on Pearl Harbor Day? Not the best birthday my mom ever had!

Once upon a time I hunkered down by one of the lakes at the Preserve to relax and keep an eye (and lens) on one of my favorite birds–the cormorant. I’ve previously called the the U-boats of the bird world. They’re silent, deadly, and can hunt underwater for long periods of time, coming up a completely different place than where they dove. As usual they were fishing and my camera was clicking, although the first round wasn’t quite in focus. But the second round…

…gone fishing and…strike! Oh, yeah, I love Fish Fridays!

I’d be happy to help if you need it. 🙂

Going down. No, I don’t chew my food! What of it?

Hmmmm. Didn’t go down. Let’s try repositioning.

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Not far from us is the Lake Renwick Preserve, home to cormorants, egrets, herons, pelicans and more. During the breeding season, March 1 through mid-August, the preserve is only open for public programs and guided bird viewing so as not to interrupt or bother the birds. On a nice day, it’s a lovely walk. This day was several summers ago, but worth a revisit!

Tree swallow seems like a rather colorless name for this bright beauty.

© janet m. webb

The main nesting area looks more than a bit like something from “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

© janet m. webb
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for Six Word Saturday

© janet m. webb

There’s a dead tree by the river in the park where I walk.  It’s often inhabited by birds of one sort of another: a siege/sedge of herons, an exaltation of egrets, or a gulp of cormorants…fish hunters all.  One unusual time, there were two types of birds there simultaneously.

I check each time I walk, hoping to catch a glimpse of as many as six or seven perched on various branches.  I think they muse about fish: those they’ve caught, those they plan to catch.  I muse about getting close enough to get a decent photo.  Even with my telephoto, it’s a bit too far away for a really good shot.

But there’s a path winding its way not far from the base of the tree and when the ground is wet or there are no crunchy leaves, it’s possible to get close enough if I move very, very slowly, to see them high above me in the tree.  This time I finally had my Nikon, not just my phone, and was thus able to immortalize this musing cormorant.

These birds are in some ways my muses.  I think about them, wonder whether they’ll be there, if I’ll get a photo of them.  And I enjoy seeing them muse about whatever it is they think about while sitting on a dead tree overlooking the river.

On a personal note, I’ll be taking a blogging break for most of the rest of the month as I travel to France to visit my s-i-l and b-i-l.   I pray for each of you a wonderful time and many blessings while I’m gone and promise to share thoughts, adventures, and photos with you when I return.

for One Word Sunday  (This week one word and then some!)

Gone fishin’

Posted: July 18, 2015 in Nature
Tags: , ,

One sight that can temporarily stop my walk is that of a fishing bird patiently waiting for its next meal. I hit “Pause” on the app that keeps track of my walk and simply enjoy. Herons and egrets are common near us. I often spot them waiting, unmoving, until suddenly their heads and long beaks dart down and another fish dinner is consumed. But I’m just as intrigued by cormorants, even though they aren’t elegant in the same tall, thin way these other fishing birds are.

If for not having to flap their wings (quite fast, as they’re somewhat stubby), a cormorant, at least the ones who live here, would look like an avian version of the stealth fighters that sometimes overfly a sporting event. Slim and black, they move quickly through the air and I’ve never heard one make a noise. But it’s in the water that they really shine.

Here the image is, to me, one of the feared German U-boats: they run silent and they can run deep. One moment a cormorant is floating on the water; then next, it’s gone, diving after its victim. Watch and wait. Nothing happens. Keep watching. Still nothing. A movement catches your eye and there, quite a distance from where it began its dinner run, is the bird, floating deceptively peacefully…until its next dive commences and another fish becomes a bit of bird sushi.

The most amazing thing is how long these birds can stay underwater. I’ve repeatedly counted, routinely reaching as long as half a minute before the slender head emerges, dripping water. They can do this repeatedly. One day on the lake near our house, three cormorants dove and popped up time after time, in all directions, a not-quite-synchronized swimming/diving/eating team.

The end of the first half of my morning walk in the park takes me down to the river. I keep my eyes open for birds but on Tuesday, a cormorant and I mutually surprised each other. I’d almost reached the river when the bird, fish partly in mouth, saw me, frantically skimming the water before finally taking off. My first thought was regret that I hadn’t had my phone out, camera ready, although it’s doubtful I would have been able to catch the shot anyway. The second was pure enjoyment at catching a unique moment in the lovely morning light. I continued on my way with a smile on my face and a sense of joy at the beauty of nature.