Friday, March 6, 2009

To Catch a Coop

I was getting ready to jump in the shower Wed. morning when I glanced outside my bathroom window. That's not unusual - that window has the best view of my bird feeders and nest boxes, so I am always looking outside when nature calls. What was unusual was the large brown bump on a limb of my apple tree.

I reached for the bathroom binoculars. (Yeah, I keep binoculars in the bathroom. They are a little 7x25 Celestron pair I bought when I had no money and less knowledge about optics. They no longer satisfy me in the field, but they are handy for feeder watching and backyard birding. So, they live in the bathroom and fulfill their destiny.)

My quick glance turned into a long stare through my bins. Hey, presto! A Cooper's Hawk!

That's when I noticed that all the feeders were empty. The only birds around were a couple of goldfinches, and they were in the top of the trees, above the Coop.

I ran for my camera, and pushed it as hard as I could, exceeding the 4x optical zoom and going all the way out to the full extent of the 16x digital zoom. I lost some pixels at that power, but I think you can make out the bird.

Cropping and enlarging makes it even more fuzzy.

Emboldened, and desperate for a decent picture of this bird, I threw on a bath robe and stepped out onto my enclosed back porch, carefully easing the door opened in an attempt to avoid spooking him. No such luck - "eagle" eyes spotted me and took off for the back 40, dashing my hopes of bagging him. Grrr! Not for the last time I cursed my lack of a good camera with a big, beautiful telephoto lens.

Wednesday must have been Raptor Day. As I was driving to work, I was blessed with a view of Mr. and Mrs. A. Kestrel, perched together across the road from a tobacco barn where I am certain they are building their nest. (I actually saw this pair breeding two weeks before.)

Continuing my commute, I passed a Red-shouldered Hawk perched on a power line. The first time I saw a Red-shouldered do this, I was surprised. I had thought they would be too large for such a narrow perch. Since then, I have frequently observed Red-shouldereds using power lines in this manner to watch and wait for a meal.

Non-raptor nature report for Wed - an Eastern Meadowlark, singing "Spring of the year!" and, when I arrived home that night, Spring Peepers warming up their vocal cords and starting their spring songs. Still no woodcocks, though I listen for them nearly every night.

Wishing you an early spring.


Mary C said...

Kathi - I've been seeing a Cooper's, too -- twice in the last couple of weeks. That is unusual to see the hawks perched on the power lines behind my house. And it's so quiet around here (outside) that you could hear a pin drop - if you know what I mean. It's so exciting to capture those beauties. The same thing happened to me both times. After taking photos from inside I ventured outside, and that's when these birds decide to "fly the coop." (pun intended?)

NCmountainwoman said...

I loved the photograph anyway. Made all the more special by your running outside in your robe to get a better shot.

Susan Gets Native said...

You tried. The only way to keep a Coop still is to watch it while it's digesting a recent meal. Burp.

Girl, there are WOODCOCKS peenting outside my hotel here in picturesque Seaman! See you tomorrow.

Kathiesbirds said...

Sounds like you have the eagle eye spotting all those hawks! Glad you didn't get locked outside in your bathrobe like Mary's View did a few weeks back! I smiled at your bins in the bathroom. If mine had a good view I would do the same thing! So, when are you getting that new camera?

denapple said...

Take a look at the new Nikon P90. It's a point and shoot but has a 24X zoom lens. It's not out yet, but I covet it already.

dguzman said...

COOL! And your camera's better than mine on that much zoom, so take heart!

retriever farm said...

Love the hawk. Noticed you weren't in my followers anymore, may I ask Why?

Mary said...

I'm impressed with your 18x digital zoom! Wow.

You did good, Kathi. Those hawks get annoyed very quickly. I have one Coop that visits frequently. Some days he'll let me hang around for a few photos but most of the time he makes a u-turn as soon as he sees me.

Good job!

Kyle said...

Sorry to hear your Coop flew the coop! At least you got a shot of him, though. Not bad, getting him in focus while hiding in that tangle of limbs and branches.