The Life of Birds

Sometimes diversity makes the individual disappear. At least it seems that way when it comes to birds. While our summer days are packed with flittering chittering friends, I often scarcely notice. But as our small feathered friends move south, their larger counterparts seem grow more obvious.

Thus, intermingled with my attempts to capture the fleeting fall contrasts, I have found numerous opportunities to also observe (and sometimes photograph) the feathered fluttering fellows who still grace our valley with their presence.

The young Swainson's Hawks were by far the most cooperative. In fact, I captured so many images of this beautiful flying predator, I plan to do a complete post focusing on this bird in the near future. It will be fun to see how much we can learn about this particular valley resident.

Sadly my interest in their young upset the parents. However, their intense attention did give me opportunity to practice my 'birds-in-flight' photography - and to learn I have not mastered this art.

Of course, Swainson's aren't the only ones still showing off in our backyard. This Red Tailed Hawk posed nicely near the lake's end. These Bald Eagle chicks watched the world from their nest edge before growing bold, spreading their wings - and their horizons. And, the young ravens who fledged weeks ago still enjoy preening along the roadsides.

And so the sun has set on another lovely month at Elk Lake. Fall is rolling in with winter hard on its heels. Yet, in those calm autumn days before the cold winds howl, we are taking in every aspect possible of our Centennial Valley neighborhood!

Lady of the Lake


The Frog and Toad Catchin' Days of Summer

It has been a busy summer. Yet while the staff and I have been hopping from chore to chore, the younger crew has managed to find the 'real' hoppers. Oh - - - to be young, and free, and . . . dirty (well, maybe the last part doesn't appeal much anymore)!

My excursions have been extremely limited this summer. The days are only so long yet that pile of work just never seemed to diminish. However, as the calendar flipped another page and August rolled into play, I found a few chances to escape and enjoy my wonderous backyard. And, while the birds are flocking and flying, the big game is slowing working its way to the valley floor - and into my camera sights.

Sunrise - Sunset. To some they just bookend another day. However, to those who look and see - they offer bright promise and peaceful rest.

A beaver pair have appeared at Widgeon - busily building a cozy winter home.

While the deer moved into viewfinder range, trouble billowed on the horizon as the Gravelly Range fire (the largest fire to come anywhere near Elk Lake in the last 10 years) greedily devoured dry timber as it flew before eager winds.

Smoke bloomed like deadly flowers on the horizon day after day - or so it seemed. In truth, while the giant thunderheads which produce these fires continued to blow themselves large each afternoon, in their shadow the fire fighters quietly arrested the flaming inferno they spawned. In the end we were left with subdued clouds giving way to blue skies and framing a friendly sun.

Yet, before the smoke completely dissipated, we enjoyed some magnificent smoke-enhanced sunsets and even a blushing blue moon!

Lady of the Lake