Monday, September 21, 2009

This and That-September

What? You all didn't think you would get away that easy without at least one more post filled with lousy pictures of hawks now did you? Nosiree, I am on a roll and as long as I keep finding hawks in far away places to take lousy pictures of, I cannot be stopped! Take after work today as an example. I get off on a ramp at 146 where you are going from 65 to 35 in a period of seconds as you are going up a curved ramp. All along the ramp are Rock Pigeons and an occasional American Crow, but if you are real fortunate, the Red-tailed Hawk decides to grace you with its presence as it did for me today!

I am on the lookout for the hawk every evening as I drive home from work and know the birding routine of many birds along my short journey home. Example: There will always be House Sparrows in a tree near the Registry of Motor Vehicles, there is without fail a flock of at least 30 European Starlings taking advantage of the lush lawn near the car wash next to the strip joint, Ring-billed Gulls love to fly around the bridge near Fisher Auto Parts, there is a kettle of at least 15-20 Turkey Vultures that soar around Route146 if I can get out of work by 4:30 and the icing on the cake is always the birds that hang out on the street lights of the ramp because there is always that slight chance the Red-tailed will be there.

Yup, it's all about multi-tasking and taking advantage of getting in birding whenever you can, if even in the car as long as you practice common sense and safe driving habits of course. ;-)

Anyhow, back on topic here. I decided to get out of my car at the bike ramp parking lot and try and get some pictures from the bridge that is above busy Route 146 and despite the fact that the bird was very far away from me, I didn't think they came out all that bad! Love the picture above as it shows the Rock Pigeons in there with the Red-tailed Hawk. It may seem odd to some but remember a Red-tailed Hawks food of choice are usually small animals like squirrels, woodchucks, etc so it is obvious the pigeons don't feel at all threatened at this time. Ask them that in late February though and I am sure they would quickly change their minds as the hawk may find them very appealing since food for them may be a little more scarce or harder to find compared to now when the pickings are fine and abundant!
I decided to head to St Philips today after work just as I do at least twice a week as I have found it to be a very popular place for migrating birds to make an over night stop for some much needed R&R. There was not much there so I decided to look around in other areas that I don't venture to that often as it is too far away to get good looks without your bins. Sure enough my bins were scanning a tall pine tree and I came across the bird above. This tree is actually in someones yard so I couldn't get close enough for a decent look and at first I thought it was an American Robin due to the color of the breast. It was acting completely different than a robin though and my gut told me it was a hawk of some kind so I got as close as I could (which wasn't that close) for a photo. Notice the yellow legs, the blue-gray above including the crown and the shape of the tail. I am also assuming its a Sharp-shinned Hawk based solely on it size. Look at it compared to the pine cones. Sharpies are just a little bigger than a Blue Jay and I thought this was a robin at first so obviously the bird was not large.
Another picture of what I am presuming is a hawk. Was only able to get a quick glimpse of it at Big Y yesterday as it flew into my view and into a tree rather quickly. Picture is pretty bad but it is a Wing-on/Going Away view and has all of the classic accipiter characteristics including the short wings and long tail. Not 100% sure but I am going to guess Cooper's Hawk based on the size of the bird when I saw it as well as the shape and size of the tail and the wings. Feel free to correct me if wrong.
Last but certainly not least is a perfect sunrise I had during my morning run on the larger power line trail I like to go to on the weekends. The sun is starting to rise later each day so unfortunately that is going to rule out my weekday trail running for a while in favor of regular running as I am preparing for my first 5K in October and I need to get in three miles at least three to four times a week to prepare and can no longer do it on trails as there are no street lights on these trails and can't imagine trying to do it in the dark of course! Sadly that means trail running only on weekends and perhaps regular running 1 to 2 times a work day week which I find incredibly boring.
The biggest downfall of not being able to run trails as much is that the trails can be so trecherous that it really conditions your legs to get used to running on that type of surface. Running on the trails really helps to strengthen your ankles, quads, hammies, etc which is a necessity when doing this type of running because the stronger your legs, the less chance of injury of a twisted ankle or knee. I have decided the perfect workaround though which is to hit the stairs at work a couple times a week which is 24 flights in total (24 going up and 24 going down). The end reward though is the view from the top which allows me to see the entire city as well as a really good view of Mount Wachusett.

Take care all!


NCmountainwoman said...

Glad you added the part about safe driving. For a while I was afraid you might be watching the birds instead of the roads. :)

Yet another reason for dreading the shortening days as we move into fall.

Chris said...

Hi Kim,
I always watch bird while driving, but sometime it can be quite dangerous to do that, and I often realize it! We ll i guess hawk are something, aren't they. That is why we like to post their pictures even if they are not the best we got ;-)

Chris said...

Hi Kim,
I always watch bird while driving, but sometime it can be quite dangerous to do that, and I often realize it! We ll i guess hawk are something, aren't they. That is why we like to post their pictures even if they are not the best we got ;-)

Kim said...

NC and Chris, the best time to do it is while stopped at a red light! You can get some good stuff then (also while stuck in traffic!). I have gotten very good at using periphial(sp) vision and have learned you can do both if you keep your speed down and enough distance between you and the other car. ;-p.

Safety must always come first of course. Can't imagine telling a cop I rear ended some poor soul ahead of me because I was looking at a pigeon ya know! HA


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