Something is always going on along the slough, most of the time it is a subtle quiet sort of occurrence but always a “what in the heck was that?” moment. This morning was not any different, the female Red Tail Hawk is out and about again under this cloudy grey sky. Hunger is the most likely reason, dought was erased when she flew out of the Pecan Tree, circled the house and re-appeared in the window on the water-side. A white Egret was the first to appear flying faster than usual because right on its tail was the Hawk. I went to the window to watch the drama unfold, in the end, the big white bird outmaneuvered the majestic predator. She (the Hawk) has not shown up since having made a straight line flight to the North disappearing over the trees and pasture.
Far beyond the aerial fight unfolding before me was a flock of water-birds of which I had a hard time determining the species due to the distance. Scanning the sky with my binoculars attempting to see at least one bird closeup it was difficult to tell if they were Cormorants or Candian Geese. Normally it is no problem to tell the difference due to the wing pattern, but for some reason, this morning being obscured with mist the colors and feather patterns were not obvious. Cormorants don’t form a Vee when in a flock, their formation is what I would best describe as confusion, there is no apparent leader. Fighting with each stroke of the wing they pound the air relentlessly with a steady beat, those guys appear to always be in a hurry. Circling around the bunch of them will fly towards the slough where several will drop off into the water while the remainder rushes off further upstream. For the remainder of the day, Cormorants look like messengers flying close to the water constantly hitting the waves with their feet. Observing them is interesting, when they fly high (20 feet or more-6 meters) they are going a long distance, skimming the surface indicates a much shorter flight.
To make a long story longer, they were not Cormorants, my first thought was correct Candian Honkers. Forming a Vee after circling for a few minutes which looked like the main body was allowing time for the stragglers to catch up, they continued due North. Feeding in the pasture is a common practice for the big loud geese, but it makes more sense if they would simply fly from there to the nearby river to spend the day. Normally as noisy as they are is a tell tail to their identity, oddly this morning I did not hear them, but I have an extreme hearing loss and was not wired for sound so they may have been boisterous as ever.
Finally, two Crows flew past me, beelining directly towards the top of a large tree 100 feet away they perched for less than 5 minutes.I’m using the word finally because two months ago a mob of them were in the Pecan Tree every morning for several weeks. One morning I decided to video them landing which means rising and setting up before the sun rose. Shortly after sunrise, the birds landed in the tree, I was tardy in getting ready, hey coffee is a priority. Congress was in session while I was assembling the tripod and camera, apparently, I was being watched. All at once every bird took to flight cawing and complaining they had not returned until this morning and only two of them at that. Being a fan of the blackbirds I enjoy them being around and miss them when they are gone, I have never done anything to harm or harass them which lead me to wonder what happened. They like Elephants are in the possession of a remarkable memory with the ability to remember events and the human faces attached to them. My theory is due to duck hunting season being underway at the time it is possible the hunters had taken pot shots at them as they flew overhead. My camera setup may look to them to be a shotgun, something to avoid, duck season is over and the banging has stopped perhaps signaling to them it’s OK to return. Time will tell if the two birds were returning or if they were on their way somewhere else and needed a rest.
Wild Turkeys were until a few years ago abundant, their mating rituals were a clear indication the arrival of spring weather is close at hand. Now few and far between their disappearance has an explanation. Peacocks occupy the same spot in the environment, and the farmer across the road raises them. They are loud, noisy birds, I prefer Turkeys. Sounding at times like a person in distress sometimes it is difficult to determine if it is a human or a Peacock. Why do people raise them? If the farmer went to all the trouble clearing his chicken coops of the Turkeys, why replace them with Peacocks? People have eaten them, I never have as most of us, it is reported the meat is dry. Placing them on the menu is no longer a common practice, chicken and turkey are more palatable and available year-round at the local grocery. Turkeys are an invasive species here, one day while passing one of his chicken coops there were about 50 of them that had taken it over. Peacocks don’t appear to be as aggressive but I wonder if they have a diet different from the chickens. Skunkpuppy may be the real reason turkeys nor the peacocks don’t come around much, she has the attitude they are on this earth for her to chase. She does chase both of the big birds relentlessly, unknown to her she will never catch one, she’s come close but she doesn’t fly.
Squirrles, Racoons, Skunks, and Coyotes are no where to be found today, normally at least one of the group will show up. The Rabbits are absent as well, but it’s not really surprising. They seem to take turns, the birds and the mammals, it is rare to see all of them out on the same day. But it’s the weather conditions that confuse me some overcast days only mammals are out on others like today only the birds. Some animals by their absence actually create a larger presence for me than if they were out if that makes sense. Turkey Vultures are out in any kind of weather, not today there is not a single one in sight.
Weather affects the animals much as it does us, prolonged periods of overcast skies and rain lulls me into a lazy state, the less I do on days like today the less I want to do. Apparently, Skunkpuppy is the same way, if she goes outside she cuts the experience to laying down in the grass if it’s dry, if not she lays next to me under the cover. Animals detect things we don’t.
Which are my wives beliefs, as I was talking to her about my findings she exclaimed once again that it is Earthquake Weather. To prove it all one has to do is go for a drive and look for cats that have met their demise at the hands of vehicles. At one time I rolled my eyes because I could not see the logic in it, I was skeptical, a step away from being a believer. While reading one day about the shakers an article was discussing that very thing, low and behold science has made a connection. Weather may affect Earthquakes which may explain why on some days the birds are out and the furry ones are not, I will write about that in another blog, I am close to being a believer.
Thanks for taking the time to read and share my blog, it’s interesting how once I get started the sentences flow as the ideas are conjured up. Now that I think about it, I bet Peacock eggs may be the reason they are raised, I’ll get back to you on that. Thanks again.
Jacques Lebec Natural Self-Reliance