The Blue Ridge Parkway offers more than just the fabulous scenery at their stops along the way. Sometimes you find a preserved example of an Appalachian Farm to explore. It was nice to get out of the car for more than a minute or two, to walk a little, and to think of what challenges people faced not too long ago, to make a living in this quiet place.
Taking care of business often involves a lot of waiting around, and that was the story of my day today. But I have to say that if you have time to kill there are worse places to be than here at my cousin’s house. Her bird feeders were very busy today, and consequently so was I.
Friends were taking a day trip today, but I decided that I wanted to stick closer to home. And I did, but I stuck even closer than I thought I would. Usually I drive a little way to see the eagles, and I had that in mind, but then I remembered the eagle nest that’s practically in my back yard. Trouble is that I hardly ever see eagles there when I check, I suspected it had been abandoned. But today one of them was keeping watch over the nest. I couldn’t see any other activity, but I’ll be checking it out from now on.
As I watched the eagle I couldn’t help but notice all the various birds flying overhead, and that reminded me that it had been a long time since I had checked out the nearby rookery. So I went home and got my ladder, because shooting over the fence would be impossible with out it, and sure enough, there was lots of housekeeping going on there.
I don’t recall seeing a snowy egret here before. Maybe we’ll get to see a new family this year. Possibly not the most exciting news for everyone, but that possibility is enough to make me happy. And that goes for the feature photo, a tricolor heron, too. I was always so happy to see them on the pond in my back yard, they were a favorite of mine. But I honestly didn’t realize what I was looking at when I was trying to get a photo, I thought it was a little blue heron, which is the same mistake I used to make out on the lake. Again, I would love to see him or her raise a family in this little rookery also. So much excitement this time of year, and so close to home.
These cranes are the entire reason that I started writing this blog. These pictures are from nearly 4 years ago when my camera was new to me and they can’t be improved now, they are what they are. That was the February that two sandhill crane chicks hatched right on the island in my little pond in the back yard. I watched them hatch, I watched them leave with their parents every morning, and I watched them return to the pond in the late afternoon. I saw them as one lady-like chick who stayed close to her mother, and one adventurous chick who was off on his own just a bit. Several times I saw only one chick with it’s parents and I waited to see that second chick appear. Just as I would give up hope, thinking he had gotten a little too adventurous, he would appear out of the grasses, much to my relief. He was my favorite, even though it made me feel a little guilty to realize that I felt that way. Mothers aren’t supposed to play favorites.
Every story needs some drama, and theirs certainly had that. One afternoon I watched in horror as my favorite colt, as they are known as they grow, seemed to be dragging a wing. Again he was off by himself a little way from the family, and even more horrifying was that the parents seemed to be driving him away. I was heartbroken to see him leave the pond alone, trudging up the hill, dragging that wing. But a few minutes later the rest of the family followed, a little way behind but up the hill in the same direction that he had gone. I felt so helpless to be watching this and not able to do anything about it.
So you can imagine how I worried all day at work the next day, would they return the next evening, and would there be three or four in the family? When I saw them return as a family of three I was broken hearted, and mad too. I was upset enough that I told myself that I wouldn’t take pictures that day, not of just the three of them. But then they started to dance and I couldn’t help myself, I took pictures.
That isn’t the end of the story, I’m happy to say. Several days later I saw all four of them on a lawn in the neighborhood. The wounded colt was laying down, the rest of the family nearby. I called a rescue facility and was told that if they were with him then they were taking care of him, and that was best. I seldom saw them come back to the nest in the backyard after that, not to spend the night at least, but the last time I did see them out there I saw my wounded colt spread his wings and stretch. I choose to believe that he healed, and that he would be okay. It was about that time that I happened to take a photography class on how to start a blog, something I had given no thought to before, but we left the class with the bones of a blog in our computers, and I wanted to tell their story. I had no idea that four years later I’d still be writing, that I’d have made new friends through photography, or that I’d be so okay with the twists and turns my life has taken in the last six years. But I’m grateful.
I don’t mind seeking out new places to see and take pictures, but I also appreciate when a photo op comes to me. Right in my own back yard, or front yard, or even across the street. I was outside sitting and chatting with my aunt when company dropped in. He was on the run as he turned the corner of the walkway in a hurry, like he was late. He probably heard our voices and thought we might be sitting and eating, and inclined to share with him.
He wandered off and returned several times as we chatted. No, we don’t feed him, and it bothers me that he is so comfortable with people. We are probably his worst enemy. And he wasn’t the only recent interloper. The other day I heard the sandhill cranes unmistakable call, and as I wondered where they were I saw them walk past the window where I was sitting at the computer. I picked up the camera and went out and sat on my front stoop, where they stopped to look for a handout, and then, surprisingly, they began to dance.
Even as I took these pictures I lamented that my car was parked in the driveway and there was just no way give the dancers a prettier backdrop. But I thought it was nice of them to drop by to entertain me for a few minutes. Then I went inside and sat back down at the computer…
Robins, big deal, right? But not in Florida. Not when you have just started taking pictures daily and consequently you do notice when a flock of robins land. And you realize that you don’t see them all the time. And they proceed to splash around in the lake in your (now former) backyard. But I did see them land in this park that I now call home the other day. And I hear them. They are on the ground, in the trees, and in the air. So everywhere basically. And I’ll take pictures because they will move on before too long. I don’t see how you can pay attention to nature and not know deep down that there really is a God…