We Three Cranes

Three sandhill cranes fly in formation

Three sandhill cranes, part of a much larger flock, fly in formation over Rest Lake at the end of a cold winter’s day. The skies above Ridgefield can be noisy in the winter, usually from the large flocks of cackling geese and tundra swans that overwinter at the refuge, but particularly early or late in the day sandhills may join the chorus.


A head-on view of a soaring bald eagle

Just your typical “Say, you didn’t bring any of your delicious cats with you, did you?” bald eagle flyby.

This young bald eagle had been heading in a direction to take it over to my left but it changed course and headed straight toward me. This was the last picture I could take showing its full body as with its long wings it was already wingtip-to-wingtip in the frame. The eagle was flying much too fast for me to change lenses as it flew closer, and it did fly quite close to my car before turning to follow the edge of the lake.

I’ve noticed many times before how the birds that soar above Ridgefield’s meadows and lakes have their flight feathers spread apart at the wingtips, both vertically (as you can see in this head-on view) and horizontally, but this time I was finally compelled to do a little reading to see if there was a benefit to it or if the birds lacked the structures necessary to keep them locked together under the pressures of flight. It appears that the spread feathers affect the vortices that form behind the wings when they’re providing lift, reducing drag as the bird soars through the air.

Late Flight

A tundra swan flies near sunset

After spending a sunny fall day at Ridgefield, I found myself near sunset photographing ducks and coots feeding in Rest Lake. Suddenly a few tundra swans took off from a distant part of the lake and kept coming in my direction until they flew by my car. Sadly I didn’t have time to change settings on the camera so some things weren’t set up the way I would like, besides which I don’t normally shoot birds in flight so it’s not something with which I have much practice.

Nevertheless it was a nice ending to the day. I took a few more pictures of ruddy ducks and then headed for home.

Scout Hates Pelicans

A brown pelican flies over the Pacific Ocean at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport, Oregon

I was editing some pictures of brown pelicans that I took on the Oregon coast last fall when Scout jumped onto my desk. Nothing unusual there, but then she took a great deal of interest in what was on my computer screen, which was showing an adult pelican soaring through the air. Before I realized what was going on, she took a swipe at the bird.

Bad Scout! Bad Scout!

My old CRT had a big scratch in it thanks to my little kitten and I didn’t want the same with my LCD. Fortunately she kept her claws retracted and no damage was done. She was eyeing the pelicans later in the day but made no further attempts to attack the digital birds.

Remind me never to take Scout to the coast.

Templeton goes to the vet tomorrow, he’s been sleeping all the time and not eating and drinking as much as he used to. I wasn’t too concerned when we first brought him home but he should have bounced back by now. He doesn’t seem to be in any pain and is as sweet and loving as usual, but he’s lost weight and just sleeps constantly.