Sunday, January 10, 2021

Winter Winter Winter

"None of your knowledge, your reading, your connections will be of any use here: two legs suffice, and big eyes to see with. Walk alone, across mountains or through forests. You are nobody to the hills or the thick boughs heavy with greenery. You are no longer a role, or a status, not even an individual, but a body, a body that feels sharp stones on the paths, the caress of long grass and the freshness of the wind."

― Frédéric Gros
Alas, in the dead of winter I tend to miss tiger beetles and other insects. But don't get me wrong―I do enjoy watching and photographing birds, but they don't quite render the rush I experience from capturing high-quality tiger beetle portraits. As winter weeks pass, birds are fine subjects to focus on during my hikes through woods and prairies. Each photographic encounter is a micro-goal that could count merely for keeping in practice. 
At both Wingra Woods and Pheasant Branch I've encountered impressive populations of wintering American Robins. I heard one them whisper singing, which they'll often do on warm winter days. I also heard one of the very first harbingers of spring―a Northern Cardinal singing full song. I scanned around the prairie with my binoculars. There was an American Kestrel at the north end and a Red-tailed Hawk soaring over the drumlin. I hiked the trails looking for the Northern Shrike, but I struck out. I'm sure it's still around somewhere. There were a few American Tree Sparrows and a Ring-necked Pheasant in the tall grass, but little else of notice.
Oh, I don't really have much to say for this particular blog post, but I do think these are some fine Red-tailed Hawk portraits worth sharing. Later on in the day I did manage to find a Northern Shrike in northern Dane County, but it was too far away for a photograph. I found a couple of Eurasian Collard Doves, too. It's a cheap wine, but it's still delicious and renders a nice buzz. Somewhere in the agricultural fields at the end of Pheasant Branch Road, a lone Snowy Owl waits for the night for another round of rodent hunting. And that's a pleasant thought to finish on.


All images © 2021 Mike McDowell