Monday, August 31, 2009

Wild Things, You Make My Heart Sing

On the first full day we spent up at the cottage, I awoke early and could hear Benny squeak occasionally, reminding me that he was anxious to start the day. I considered turning over and ignoring him but really I was equally eager to get out there and walk - cameras in hand.

I got ready and released the beast from his crate. Benny stretched while I scratched his back. He tossed off the previous night's sleep with a shake, and a wag of his tail. I opened the front door and we stepped out on the deck under mostly clear skies.

I immediately heard the call of the loon and cautioned Benny to wait, lest he get too far ahead of me toward the road. The loon was nearby and I wanted to try for a photo, but I was immediately distracted by the screech of a loud bird. I looked up to see the two Bald Eagle juveniles putting on an air show.

(please click to enlarge)

They were fairly high, though almost directly above me. I had difficulty finding the right settings on my camera and in retrospect should have probably used my older camera because of its zoom capabilities, but I kept on snapping until they flew off shortly afterward.

(please click to enlarge)

Ben and I began our walk up, over and down the hilly dirt roads which lead to a fair number of cottages on the lake. We took about a half hour to amble a mile down the road to another small lake across the way. Mosquitoes were beginning to find us at an alarming rate so we turned back home. The intoxicating smell of coffee greeted us. Frank was partway through his cup, and had already cast a few hooks off the dock. Our day was shaping up nicely.

We spent a bit of time keeping Benny company before we went out to do some fishing. Since the boat was headed that way, we decided to see if any of the eagles were back at their nest. The eaglets had returned and were patiently awaiting the adults.

The sun came at us from behind the birds but they made for some fine semi-silhouettes. (please click to enlarge)

Please keep in mind that these were taken at a fair distance, from inside a bobbing boat. It was challenging. (please click to enlarge)

Also challenging was this image taken later in the day while we were out on the lake once again. Picture that same bobbing boat, and me, crouched over with my elbows against my knees trying to hold as still as possible while attempting to capture a bird in flight. It's not a great photo but the adult Bald Eagle sure is an impressive bird. (please click to enlarge)

Eventually, we did see a loon pop up not too far from our boat and he allowed me to snap a shot before he dove under water once again. (please click to enlarge)

As the week unfolded, we were to see many interesting creatures - all beautiful in their own way.

Frank found a snake for me to photograph. (please click to enlarge)

Theresa called out to me while I was on the hammock to take note of a Great Blue Heron just across the bay. (please click to enlarge)

Frank spotted a playful otter swimming past the dock. (please click to enlarge)

I enjoyed watching the hummingbird drink from the feeder. (please click to enlarge)

There were dragonflies. (please click to enlarge)

Various kinds. (please click to enlarge)

Our last evening out in the boat allowed us a final peek at an eaglet. (please click to enlarge)

So ended a perfect week up at the cottage. (please click to enlarge)

This was a rather lengthy post. Please feel free to use the facilities. (please click to enlarge)


Frank Baron said...

Looks to me like Mama (or Papa) eagle is carrying something in its talons. A fish mebbe? Hard to tell.

As always, some fine shots Hil. We sure got our money's worth, critters-wise, eh?

Let's go again, soon. :)

Marlene said...

Oh thank you for sharing these! I have never seen any up close..what amazing birds! just beautiful..!
I wonder if a eagle would attack a small dog? from ths size it seems they could easily do that!

Anonymous said...

I do not like snakes, but that one looked very cute! Leave it to you to talk me into liking a reptile :)!

Maggie May said...

You have some wildlife there that is not found in England.
Is always good to see different kinds of birds and beasts!
Your photos are always stunning & as my computer is still on *slow* well worth the wait!

~JarieLyn~ said...

Is that snake in the palm of the hand? It is the tiniest snake I've ever seen. I didn't even know baby snakes came that small.

I like the otter and the hummingbird. Both so very cute.

Again, all your shots are great. And I love the way you ended your post. Very clever!

Zuzana said...

Haha, I am still laughing about the last sentence and the last image.;))

Stunning sunset; it sure beats mine!;)) Love all the images; how curious the snake looks; is it a baby? I recognize this kind, black with yellow spots on the back of his head. It is one of two kind of snakes that can be found in my home in central Europe. This one is non poisonous.;))


SandyCarlson said...

So much life here. Amazing. Those eaglets and the adult eagle just blew me away. Your extended wild family is a delight.

Reasons said...

Fantastic pictures - what wonderful company you keep. I especially love the heron.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

Please tell me you have an actual bathroom up at the cottage! ...although for all that beauty, I'd happily use that "facility." And I can't believe you are apologizing for those eagle shots -- I think they are incredible!
I ♥ loons and sunsets on the lake.

Kerri Farley said...

Oh what fun!!! Love those eagles!

Althea said...

Pretty :)

The chocolate thing is going...I managed to not eat chocolate, 5 days after I said I wasn't going to...methinks it's not going to last...

*passes the M&Ms*

Unknown said...

You're so lucky that cottage is in nature heaven! What an abundance of wildlife and your photos are great, despite the bobbing boat.

Tabor said...

Wonderful photos of the young eagles. they can dive and swoop and play so beautifully in the air, can't they? They are also a bit like ugly ducklings. I love the otter photo. We are supposed to have them here, but I have NEVER been able to see them much less snap a good shot like that!

Russell said...

All these images are very good -- but my favorite is the hummingbird. It is so hard to get a photograph where you can actually see their wings as opposed to a blur.

Sounds like a great day! I agree with Frank -- go again soon! Very, very soon!!

Pat - Arkansas said...

Oh, my! What marvelous creatures you have around you "at the lake." The eaglet photos are wonderful, and the adult eagle is magnificent! Love the sunset photo.

Thanks for the offer of the use of the facilities. The setting is different, but the construction surely looks familiar!

Leah J. Utas said...

Magnificent. Love the eaglet pics, and the hummingbird was wonderful.
Very artistic interpretation of the outhouse, too. Well done.

Daryl said...

Fantastic all .. but gotta ask .. did you use a tripod for the sunset?

Dianne said...

good heavens! you can make an outhouse look gorgeous

I wish I could shake off sleep the way Benny does ;)

I love the bits of light behind the bird wings, so free and beautiful

Sandi McBride said...

Oh my! What beautiful photos and I didn't even cringe at the sight of a snake on your (beloved's?) hand! Normally I would have run screaming!!! The Bald Eagle...and the Eaglet...those are glorious shots...and all need to be in a book somewhere!!!

Cheffie-Mom said...

I love enJOYing nature through your photos. WONDERFUL! Oh, and I think that is the tiniest snake I've ever seen! Too cute!

Hilary said...

great looks lovely. I think you did marvelously well with the photos, bobbing boat or not.

the Bag Lady said...

Wonderful photos, Hilary! Love the bald eagle shots! Bobbing boat or not, you did a great job!

Anonymous said...

Hilary that was such a great post!!! Your camera is amazing, I love those photos of the eagles!

photowannabe said...

I envy you and the magical cottage. Love the early morning walk and the hint of sunlight on the eagletts wings.
It would be so much fun dropping a hook into the water too.

Rajesh said...

The snaps of the birds in action are fantastic.

Mental P Mama said...

WOW. Every single shot is wonderful. All my pictures look like I'm in a bobbing boat;)

Andrea said...

Gotta love cottage walks...they are mine and Sophie's favourite!! Thank you so much for sponsoring Sophie in the Terry Fox is very much appreciated!! :)

ellen abbott said...

Exceptional photos as usual. I didn't read all the comments so I don't know if anyone commented but the second dragonfly is really a damselfly. they are smaller and always rest with their wings folded. Dragonflies rest with their wings open.

Hilary said...

• Thanks, Frank. I think you're right about the fish. We had seen that eagle swoop down a few seconds before that shot, but neither you nor I thought he had caught anything. I guess we were wrong.

I'll start packing! :)

• Thank you, Marlene. I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. I had never seen Bald Eagles before either, until they began nesting nearby. They're a treat. I think it's wise to be cautious about the possibility of the birds preying on a small dog.. like Benny, the JRT (though I think he'd give them a run for their money!). We were concerned about him wandering around on his own, but so far he's still with us. We'll try harder next time. ;)

• Thanks, Amy/MT. I'm glad I could talk you into liking it. Now maybe you could do likewise for me. At best, I tolerate them. And that's only when they're this small. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks so much, Maggie. That's a fine compliment because I know how slowly my page loads at the best of times. To endure its loading through slowdowns is so nice of you. Thank you for that. :)

• That's what you're seeing, Jarie-Lyn. And truthfully, I don't know if it's a baby snake or just a small species. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks always for stopping by. :)

• Thanks, Protege. I'm glad you got a laugh out of the post. ;) I'm impressed that your recognize the snake. I don't tend to get all that close to them for the most part, so they're all just snakes to me. Thanks for the visit, my friend. :)

• Thanks so much for the always-kind words, Sandy. Would that extended wild family be Frank and his siblings? Or the animals? ;) Yes, I know you meant the critters. They're all pretty good company - the people and the creatures. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Thanks, 123. I totally agree with you about the company I keep. Pretty lucky, eh? Thanks so much for the kind words. :)

• KC there is a real washroom up at the cottage, complete with toilet, sink and shower.. all running with lake water. The water gets turned off sometime in October, so cottage visits after that time mean using the outhouse and washing up outside.. so it had better be a warm autumn! Thanks always for your kind comments. :)

• Thanks, Kerri. They're pretty incredible creatures. :)

• Thanks, Althea. Don't pass ME the M&Ms or I'll eat them. Urp! Thanks.. they were delicious. ;)

• Thanks so much for the kind words, GS. I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. It is indeed a beautiful place. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks, Tabor. You're quite right about the air show the eaglets put on. They're quite lovely to watch. We got lucky with the otter. We've seen them a couple of times before (once, three of them together) but never before have they been this close to us. Frank tends to spot them for me. Thanks always for the visit. :)

• Thanks, Russell. We hope to. :) I'm glad you liked the hummingbird shot. I was disappointed not to get his full head in the shot, but it was a clearer image than those where you could see the full bird. Thanks for stopping by. :)

Hilary said...

• Thanks so much for the kind words, Pat. I'm glad you enjoyed the shots. We're very lucky to have such lovely critters around us. And yes, there's a certain commonality among outhouses. ;)

• Thanks very much, Leah. Your kind comments always mean a lot to me - you, who is surrounded with such beauty all the time. :)

• Thank you, Daryl. No tripod. I think this shot was also taken from the boat.. but I could be wrong. Frank might chime in with its location. :)

• Thanks so much for the sweet comments, Dianne. Sometimes I wish I could shake off Benny the way he shakes off his sleep.. just sometimes. ;)

• Thanks very much for the kind words, Sandi. I drew the line at who held the snake. It wasn't going to be in my hand! I'm glad you enjoyed the photos, and that none of them sent you screaming. :)

• Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting Cheffie. Much appreciated. I'm glad you enjoyed the shots. :)

• Thanks very much, Hilary. I'm glad you think so. That means a lot to me. :)

• Thanks kindly, Baggie. You always make me feel like I know what I'm doing. :)

• Thanks muchly, Rain. I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. :)

• Thanks so much, Sue. I never thought that it would be as enjoyable as it is to drop that hook in the water.. whether it comes up with a fish or not. It's just a lovely way to spend time. Thanks for the always-kind words. :)

• Thanks very much Rajesh. Much appreciated. :)

• MPM, that might be the cocktails. ;) Thanks always for the kind comments. :)

• My pleasure, Andrea. I know it's a great cause. Good luck! :)

• Thank you so much, Ellen. I knew there were dragonflies and damselflies but I had no idea how to determine the difference. Now I do. Thanks for that. :)

NJ said...

Great shots as always. I haven't seen a bald eagle in Ontario. We did see some a few years back when we visited Tofino. Love the hummingbird shots. We always enjoyed the hummingbirds when we went to the cottage.
My friend who owns the cottage we used to rent opened her outhouse a couple years ago and some squirrel had been using it for a storeroom. Since it wasn't used very often he had managed to compile a large pile of pine cones that spilled out when my friend opened the door.I can't wait to see your fall's my favourite season.

John Going Gently said...

lovely pictures!
you hve a good eye

Gary's third pottery blog said...

as usual, you are a MOST remakable photog, and I think I would have let that snake wander off, myself....

Country Girl said...

What a plethora of interesting photos! I loved that little tiny snake. And the hummingbird! And . . . and . . . and thank you for adding the outhouse.

Louise said...

So much wildlife. So many fantastic pictures. That was a tiny snake! I love all the eagle/eaglet ones. My favorite is the juveniles--one sitting, one flying. That is spectacular!

Shammickite said...

There are many people who would spend exactly the same week at the same cottage and not notice any of the wildlife that surrounds them. Thank you for being so observant and for having your camera ready at any opportunity for a good picture. Nice to be so much in touch with Mother Nature. I'm sure she appreciates it!

Shammickite said...

P.S. you need a new eaton's catalogue hanging on the door of the facilities.....

Nancy said...

Wow! Eagles! We all aspire to see such wonderful and delightful images. You take such wonderful photographs, amazing, really. Thanks so much for sharing. We hiked five miles today and didn't see much - Lucy chomped down on some bear poop, however. Horrid gas on the ride home!

Midlife Roadtripper said...

A virtual Wild Kingdom. Looks like an incredible week. I love loons. And their call. We don't have any where I live, but every visit to the lake up north, I love to watch them. And wonder where they'll pop up.

Love the sunset - and the outhouse. Enjoyed it.

ds said...

No need to apologize for bobbing boats or the lack of a zoom--YOU SAW EAGLES!!!!!And your shots of them, and everything else, are incredible. You caught a hummingbird in mid-flight; an otter swimming; a loon; all creatures, great and small. National Geographic couldn't have done better.
I have never seen a bald eagle in the wild--much less its young. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing these!

Suldog said...

Lovely. I think, considering the circumstances, you did a fantastic job on the bald eagle adult. As 'Things We Carried' said, I'm not much on snakes, either, but that one is so damn small! What sort is it?

Table Mountains said...

great blue herons and humming birds now appear on the island of newfoundland. a decade or so ago this was unheard of.

climate change?

Althea said...

The chocolate thing was just to see if I could. Just to make sure that I wasn't...well, addicted.

Then again, I guess there are things out there that are much worse than chocolate :)

Joanna Jenkins said...

You are a great photographers!

And those bald eagles! WOW. They only time I've ever seen ONE was in Alaska on a cruise. It was huge and so beautiful.

Thanks for sharing.

Clowncar said...

oooh, I love that tiny little snake.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful, as usual.

btw, I remember when I whined to you about how hard it is to photograph something flying, you said you thought so too! Welll, apparently you were just being kind, because you did a wonderful job, from a rocking boat yet! Well done, friend. Great pictures.

Crabby McSlacker said...

Amazing photos!

I think you could make a fortune breeding and selling tiny snakes to therapists for use in curing snake phobias. Expose the patient to the tiny not-scary ones, then repeat once a week with bigger snakes until the patient can yawn at a boa constrictor.

Er, maybe not. But fascinating picture just the same.

Skunkfeathers said...

You live in beautiful country, and have a great eye for some of the best it has to offer.

*Commenter's note...depending on bodily needs of the moment, that could conceivably include the structure of biological waste repository*

blunoz said...

I am in awe of your photos. Having tried so many times from my kayak to take a picture of a passing loon or other critter on an unstable platform, my photos NEVER come out crisp and clean. Yours are very impressive.

Deb said...

Wow. I would have been happy just to have seen your incredible shots of the eagle and then you shared so many more pictures of critters - I love the hummingbird shot also. How fortunate you were to see the eagle - what a majestic bird!

Oman said...

its very hard to photograph flying birds. you need to have patient and talent. and you certainly have both. great job.

Michele said...

Heh... I'd rather just use that third tree on the left than that little outhouse... phew!

A pretty post and I love little snakes like that. Am not afraid of critters, am always intrigued by them but I'm an outdoor girl and that's why I love your blog!

Hilary said...

• Thanks, NJ. There are far more Bald eagles out west in B.C. than there are around here in Ontario but their numbers are growing again. It sure is a treat to share space with these beauties. That had to be a hilarious find to discover the pine cones in the outhouse. Funny story. Got photos? ;) Thanks always for stopping by. :)

• Thanks for the kind words, John. I happen to think your photos are just fine. I particularly like the critter shots. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Thanks very kindly, Gary. I hear you. I'm not a snake person either. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks so much, Kate. I'm glad the facilities were available for you when you were in need. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Thanks very much for the kind words, Louise. I'm glad you enjoyed them. :)

• Shammie, thank you so much for the very kind words but I just can't imagine anyone surrounded with nature at its best and not notice it. It just can't be. I do appreciate the compliment though. And would you settle for a Sear's Christmas catalog? ;)

• Thanks so much, Nancy. And yuk to Lucy. It gives Benny whines during our own car rides a tolerable perspective. Thanks for the kind words. :)

• Thanks very kindly, MJ. I love loons too. Their call is quite enchanting and certainly represent the sounds of cottage living. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• DS, thank you so much for your very kind words. It truly was a kick to see these beauties.. one and all. I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. Thanks always for the visit. :)

• Thanks very much, Suldog. I appreciate your always-kind words. I have no idea what kind of snake it is, but it is kind of cute. Thanks for your kind comments. :)

• Could be, Table Mountains. Whatever the reason, they are a joy to see, eh? Thanks for the visit. I hope you'll drop by again. :)

• Althea (mni!), if I had to be addicted to something, I'm thinking chocolate would be the way to go. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thank you so much for your very kind words, Joanna. They are such incredibly impressive creatures, aren't they? Thanks for the visit. :)

• Clowncar, I managed to admire it without taking more than one step back. It was pretty small. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thank you, Sandra. I did mean it. Birds in flight are so difficult to track. For me, they're never in sharp focus. But I do get semi-lucky every now and then. I got lucky with a seagull the other day. I'll be posting that one soon. Just keep in mind that it took me about 20 shots until I found one that wasn't overly blurry. So I guess it's a matter of luck and persistence. Mostly the luck though. ;) Thanks always for your kind comments. :)

• Crabby, you so have the wrong person for snake-breeding! Someone would have to desensitize me to the slithery things first. I'm glad you like the photos. :)

• Thanks very much for the kind words, Skunkfeather. You're right about that outhouse. There are times it's the prettiest sight out there. Especially for women. ;) Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks so much, Kevin. They're far from crisp and clean, but I was pleased with them considering the circumstances. The creatures were impressive regardless. Thanks always for your kindness. I'm glad you liked the photos. :)

• Thanks very much, Deb. Yes, the eagle is incredibly majestic. Even the young have a regal air about them. I'm glad you enjoyed the pics. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Thanks very kindly, Lawstude. Don't forget the luck factor. Thanks for stopping by and for your very kind words. :)

• Michele, you're welcome to use the tree, but you'll be stuck with leaves instead of toilet paper. ;) Thanks always for your very kind words. I'm glad you liked the photos and I sure hope you're feeling better now. :)

steviewren said...

That tiny snake and the Heron portrait....wonderful! You and Frank are natural naturalists.

Gary :) said...

I think I'll be brave and betcha a loonie or three that Ms. Hilary is NOT the one holding that itty bitty snake in her palm!!!

Hilary said...

• Thanks, Michele. That means a lot to me, coming from you. :)

• You speak no Bu||, Gary. Good thing this isn't Texas where they grow everything big, or I wouldn't have even been as close as a zoom lens away. Good to see you visit, my friend. :) :)

Indrani said...

How observant!
Each and every shot so beautifully framed and captured. But that tiny snake really shocked me.

Cedar said...

...My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird--the acheive of; the mastery of the thing!

Gerald Manley Hopkins

Merisi said...

Such beautiful wildlife (and yes, that was a mastershot, the Bald Eagle in flight, from a wobbling boat, nonetheless!)! I enjoyed following you along and thanks for the giggle at your last image: So very thoughtful of you, to offer relieve! ;-)

Hilary said...

* Thanks, Stevie and Ooops.. I think I replied again to Michele rather than to your comment. I'm sorry. Such a kind thing to say. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. :)

* Thank you, Indrani. They tend to shock me some, too. ;) Thanks always for the kind words. :)

* Lovely, Cedar. Thanks for sharing that quote. I'm glad this post inspired you to recall it. Much appreciated. :)

* Thank you, Merisi. I'm glad the facilities were available for you. Thank you so much for the kind words. You're such a fine photographer and that means a lot to me. :)

Anne C. Watkins said...

Wow...just...WOW. Thank you for sharing these breathtaking shots. :)

Hilary said...

Thank YOU, Anne. You're appreciation means a lot to me. :)