Wednesday, November 18, 2009

RAIN AND HAWK

This has been a rain day here along the river. Nothing of consequence, just off-and-on showers that occasionally tried to pretend intentions of becoming a real downpour. When I took a last look at the river at twilight, the water level appeared unaffected and showed no hint of discoloration. That could change by morning, of course, depending on upstream rains. Actually, that twilight I mentioned wasn't really twilight in the usual sense of the word, just a darker graying of a gray late-afternoon…which simply kept dimming until you could no longer see the other side of the stream. Moreover, in keeping with the intermittent showers, it had been gray pretty much all day. Sometimes the gray skies lightened and you could make out the bright orb of the sun behind the veil; often, however, you couldn't have pointed toward the sun's position in that slate-colored sky on a bet. I made the most of the day—working at my desk, doing a few household chores. About noon, I spent an hour relaxing with a good book and a pot of lapsang tea. Rain days are good work days. I get a lot done—and I also find time to relax. However, just because I hunkered indoors doesn't mean there wasn't a lot of activity going on outside. Squirrels galore bounded across the grass and chased each other up and down the trees. I think my squirrel population increases every month. The feeders also did a steady business—chickadees, titmice, blue jays, cardinals, house finches, goldfinches, nuthatches, red-bellied woodpeckers, downies. A brown creeper investigated the box elder. A Carolina wren tapped along the windowsill. The ducks dove in the riffle. The heron fished the edge of the pool. I frittered away a fair amount of time watching. In the afternoon, between bouts of rain, I looked up as the Cooper's hawk sailed in and landed on the picnic table. The big bird stretched and looked around, the perfect picture of a hungry guest trying to locate the smorgasbord. He'd apparently decided to drop by the riverbank restaurant for a meal—except this time, every potential entr√©e had made good their escape. Sometimes fast food is just too fast to catch, even for a hawk. Following a couple of minutes of posing and glaring, the hungry hawk flew off. A few minutes after that, the feeder crowd was back and busy…maybe even celebrating. Just a slow, rainy day on the riverbank.

10 comments:

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ-

Rainy gray days are my favorite. I love the calm and peace and dim view - no harsh light to squint away - just wide eyed taking in the world through a smoky haze of water and ash.
I love your days, time to work, time to relax, time t observe, time to reflect, time to simply "be" - and always so in sync with all that surrounds you of nature and its endless offerings. I felt so relaxed spending the day with you through this wonderful piece of writing that captured the glory of the day - the essence of your natured spirit- and the gentle way you live that cares for and about every living creature within your view.

Love to you my friend
Gail
peace.....

p.s. News! I went back to my PCP today - my B P is perfectly normal again. :-) A combination of life style changes and medication adjustments. Praise the Lord!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

I love rainy days, too. Even when camping—I love just snuggling into a tent or the back of the pickup, maybe tending a smoky fire under a tarp "porch", listening to the patter of droplets through the leaves and pine needles, reading, snoozing.

Nope, rainy days are good days.

And, hey…that's great news on the BP! You're going to do well in your new life—I just know it! I'm really happy for you.

Kelly said...

...I liked this post--it had a good feel to it! I spent a rainy day at home as well...working, writing, cleaning, and drinking tea and reading! (I guess that's what we do in Ohio when it rains.) I was able to keep my window cracked so I could hear all the birds outside. It's a lovely mix--raindrops and bird calls.

KGMom said...

Considering how regularly the hawk--is it always the same one?--visits, you may soon have less other critter activity.
If I were a wee creature, I would not stick around where the hawk always awaits.
Would you?

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Kelly…

Well, huh—I worked, wrote, did washing, read, drank tea, and watched birds. Guess we Buckeyes know what to do with rainy days, eh?

Didn't have the window cracked, but the one feeder near my desk is only about 18 inches away, under the eave, so there's no trouble hearing the birds.

In fact, one of the things that sometimes amazes a visitor who's never been around squirrels, are the sounds they often make while feeding or poking along looking for trouble—soft little sounds between a grunt and a purr. The gray squirrels are less vocal, but the red (pine) squirrels are really noisy. When you have a squirrel on the window ledge, occasionally standing standing and pushing its nose against the glass and scratching like it wants to get in, chuckling, purring, squeaking, snuffling, grunting—vocalizing like a chatty neighbor—it's tough to get a lot of work done.

And I never tire of admiring the red-bellied and downy woodpeckers so close. I'm just waiting for the day when one of the pileateds lands on this feeder!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

KGMom…

First off, I wouldn't be surprised that the Cooper's hawk I see every day is the same one—though I have no way of telling for sure.

Second, I don't think a regularly visiting hawk will have any effect on the number of birds at the feeders. It's the "eat or die" imperative. Feeding must come before safety, though watchfulness may be increased.

Most animals in groups handle the predator threat this way—there's safety in a group because there are more eyes to be watching at a given moment, thus increasing the chance of an early warning of danger. Also, the more potential victims around the less chance it is you'll be that unfortunate one.

Survival always comes with a fatalistic aspect—you can't survive without risk, and any risk ups the odds of death. A thin, red line. Life lived is never certain.

Carolyn H said...

Griz: I think raptors have a tough go of life--catching dinner is never easy.

Carolyn h.

Lisa said...

I love a rain day. There is indeed something seriously calming about it. It's obvious your words are spoken from the heart.Without letting yourself have the experience it would be hard to describe something so lovely.

Fantastic bird photo, too!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Carolyn…

I wonder if it's strictly food—the amount available in a given territory for, say, a Cooper's hawk—that limits their numbers, or are there other dynamics at work? A few centuries ago, when game and passerine birds were more plentiful (in some species, anyway) were hawk numbers also simultaneously increased?

But you're right, hunting is always a more difficult way of making a living than gathering.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Lisa…

It's nice a sunny here today, though the early morning was quite foggy.

I'm glad you enjoyed the piece and photo, which wasn't really a matter of skill but luck: the hawk dropped in, I pointed the camera out the window and took his picture. I do always try and write about what moves me and from personal experience. I hope that always comes through.