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Ferruginous Hawk and Extraneous Silliness

Sunday, August 15, 2010

For us, North Dakota is a pastiche of great people, wonderful birds, quietly stunning grass and skyscapes, and pure silliness.

This is a Dakota Growers pasta Plant. (Thanks, Rick, for the ID.) This photo, taken through the windshield as I drove, doesn't even come close to showing how big this plant is. It is just huuuuge. North Dakota grows the best hard durum wheat which is the best for pasta since it has so much gluten in it. Those who are allergic to gluten probably shouldn't even look at this picture.

A classic mirage, the road disappearing into watery nothingness. You don't often see good mirages back East, though Westerners probably get used to them. We squealed and drove into the depths. The kids loved that. And then I loved trying to explain what a mirage is. One of those moments when the mom starts out confidently and then kind of trails's outside my area of expertise. Something about a reflection of the sky onto the road caused by heat wave distortion, uh...anyway, it's a mirage.

I was pleased to find that Bill and I are not yet quite perfectly matched in a seesaw sense

and the kids have a bit of biomass to gain, too, before they can send Daddy flying.

Did I mention wonderful birds?

Well, here is one of the Most Wonderful North Dakota Birds: the ferruginous hawk.

We were flying along a highway when we spotted this enormous bird sitting on a low surveyor's marker.

He sat for quite awhile, then spread those magnificent wings, crouched and leapt up.

The light was worse than terrible, but we got an eyeful of this stunning almost-eagle

which I believe should be called the Rufescent Hawk-eagle, because I always think of the Ornate Hawk-eagle when I see it. Splendid Prairie Hawk-eagle would be a good name for it, too.

Look at those glorious red thighs, all that white in tail and wing.

Away he flapped, leaving us open mouthed, stunned.

A lot of birders on that bus had hoped against hope to glimpse a ferruginous hawk, but never dared dream of such a show.
I'm happy with these photos, even though it was dark as a dungeon that day and spitting rain. I love my Canon Digital Rebel XSi with its 70-300 image-stabilized telephoto lens.
I carry it everywhere without even feeling its weight, and hand-hold it for virtually all my grab shots of birds and butterflies, deer and giant otters. If you like what you see on my blog and want to upgrade your photo equipment, you can thank me by clicking these links when you're finally ready to buy. Direct sales from links on my blog send a very small kickback my way, and won't cost you a cent more.

That's North Dakota--always surprising, always a blast. If you're thinking of hitting the prairie in June 2011, check out the Potholes and Prairies Festival website. You may see someone rawther familiar there. And Bill, Phoebe, Liam and I would love to see you in Carrington, North Dakota in '11! You do not have to know anything about birdwatching to go to a birding festival and see fabulous birds. We take care of all that. That's what birding festivals are for. Just bring decent binoculars and a desire to be thrilled.

But wait. There's more! I'm in ad mode now. Don't worry, it'll pass soon.

My wonderful WebWitch has added another clickable feature to an already active blog homepage. Look in the right sidebar to find a mini photo-album of Chet Baker, poised right above a small donation button. As I creep up on five years of steady blogging for your viewing and reading pleasure, the pull of gainful activities (my next book) always on the yoke, I'm ready to find some ways to ask the blog to give a little back. My dream job would be just to run around and find fabulous things to photograph and share with you, but to date the dream job has been a volunteer position. And it's finally sunk in on me that it will remain so unless I do something about it. If I've learned anything about potential corporate sponsors, it's that they don't answer their mail.

This blog, thanks to my gifted and delightful WebWitch, is lively, fun and beautiful, and I don't want a bunch of ads for timeshares and diets and masculine enlargement products and Lord knows what else flashing away in the margins. But I do have to pay her to make it beautiful, keep developing it, and help me look like I know what I'm doing here on the Web. You all quietly and generously helped me through the rabies shot debacle. Then you helped my friend Debby as she rebuilds her life, post-tornado. I'll always be deeply grateful for your generosity. Heck, I'm grateful that you're here, reading, at all.

So there he is, Chet Baker with his little paw out, his Mether slowly feeling her way down the dark and twisty alley of monetizing her blog without wrecking it. A little stab at promoting Canon cameras here, an appeal there. Down the road, some unique products to sell, if my ideas pan out. Kept under the glass terrarium of natural history blogging, I doubt I'll ever be lucky enough to be one of those "pro-bloggers" you hear about. But I've been cobbling together a career since 1981, and it's bound to change shape over time. Maybe it'll all add up to something in time.

Too bad there is not a street corner we could sing on, Mether. Nobody would hear us on our street.
Thank you for reading, and thank you for your support.


which I believe should be called the Rufescent Hawk-eagle, because I always think of the Ornate Hawk-eagle when I see it. Splendid Prairie Hawk-eagle would be a good name for it, too.

Well, it sure beats Paltry Tyrannulet.

Thanks for the camera info! One morning last week there were Northern Flickers, White-headed Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers and the usual mob of Acorn Woodpeckers at the feeders all at once, and this was the best I could manage with my old point 'n' shoot. Flicker dad is feeding a fledge ten feet from the cabin deck right now. I really, really want that Digital Rebel XSi.

Dayum, that Chet dog is adorable [melts].

Last summer I was fortunate enough to be living in the middle of nowhere on the prairie of southern Saskatchewan, and there was an Ferruginous Hawk nest visible out the living room window (not to mention Swainson's Hawks and Prairie Falcons and Sage Grouse and such things every time you turned around). It was amazing. Gorgeous photos!

Wow, Julie, those are magnificent photos. Love the mirage and that stunning hawk. There is something to be said for spending time in those wide open prairie lands, like a grassy sea and full of life.

How come my photos of that self-same bird, in that same gray light, taken with the exact same camera and lens set-up don't look as good as yours?


Post-production shenanigans, KatDoc. I could only lighten them so much, though, or it looked kind of flourescent-lit. Dang, that was a dark rainy day! Imagine that in bright light!
Plus, my lens was just back from a Canon repair center (I dropped it on the boardwalk at Cranberry Glades WV). And I swear--it never took a sharp photo before that repair. Now it's great. I don't know what they did, but if you're unhappy with your results, you might want to think about having it looked at.
Luisa--Time for a Canon. Xsi is discontinued, but the link goes to the new replacement, basically the same thing but probably better yet.

Love that hawk's leggings. Around here I used to be happy as long as Rich weighed at least 30 pounds more than me. The margin has shrunk to 20. But hey! He's skinny.

Great hawk shots, even if it was a dreary day.

Great shots of that hawk (wow) but I can't stop giggling at Bill on the see-saw, enjoying it more than anyone else.

Dakota Growers Pasta Plant--Barilla is different group. :)

Posted by Anonymous August 15, 2010 at 7:35 PM

Thank you, Rick! Knew I could count on you! I felt uneasy about that because I thought I remembered reading "BARILLA" on the huge pasta plant we saw. Dakota Growers it is.
I look at that picture and wish I could go inside to see the pasta being made. And also think about how much pasta we consume. Yeeks! I try not to eat it at all, but mostly fail.

A good lens is indispensable. I just sold a 70-200 to help finance a 300mm with a 1.4x teleconverter. I can't believe the clarity. I agonized between that and the 100-400 zoom, also an excellent lens. Canon makes the best equipment out there. Great shots of a magnificent bird in poor light attest to that! Well done.

Beautiful shots of the Ferruginous Hawk -- the low light gives it a wilder feel.

We do have mirages back east. We call them loomings. The difference has to do with the relative temperature of the air vs. the surface.

If the warmer air is nearest to the surface, the image is displaced downward. That's what you saw and photographed. The literature calls that an inferior mirage.

If the air is colder near the surface, the image is displaced upward. The literature calls this a superior mirage. As I mentioned, we call this "looming" out here and it most often happens over water. It's the reason why on some days I can see the Isles of Shoals from Salisbury Beach and Plum Island.

What an elegant explanation of mirages, Janet! I have seen loomings over the Atlantic, yes, but never had a clue what was going on. How cool to see islands ordinarily out of view. Thank you!

Marie--Ooh, a 100-400 zoom...mmm. I should probably spring for a fixed 300 w/ teleconverter, but I don't want to carry it, particularly. When I carry Bill's as a favor I can't wait to hand it back to him! Still, looking at your photos (everybody go see!)

makes me drool.

Golly! Thanks, Julie (blush). :-)

This blog is worth is like getting a natural history,country life,birding,dogs life,orchid growing magazine;only better.the author is a nationally known author,artist,birder and all around interesting person.

Posted by Leo Lantz August 16, 2010 at 7:10 PM
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