Miss me?

Probably not. I really shouldn’t ask questions like that.

In winding down this evening (well, yesterday evening now,) I noticed that a lot of my favorite bloggers have nothing new to post, with good reason. They’re all at the Reason Rally in DC, most of them probably starting to get a bit bleary and manic from the long day and the after-rally get-togethers as I type this (it’s 1:00 am Sunday morning.) I would have liked to have been there, but I had already committed to teaching a seminar on Spring Garden Photography for the local botanical garden by the time I realized how cool the Reason Rally was going to be. I guiltily admit that a small part of me was hoping for something to happen and reschedule the seminar, so I could do both, but I honestly can’t complain. It looked like DC got some pretty heavy rain storms today, and while we did too, we got a fortuitous break in the weather at the time that we all left the education center to go chase pics in the garden. The clouds were widely variable, so we actually got bright sunlight and blue skies, partial clouds, and full overcast all in the space of 90 minutes, but no rain. There was a pretty good turnout, and everyone seemed pleased with the seminar – one attendee was kind enough to tell me I was a natural teacher, which was great to hear (and repeat.) I also want to take this opportunity to thank Nik for his assistance with pointers in the garden session, and of course, I owe a lot to the North Carolina Botanical Garden. While details are not firmed up yet, it appears I will be doing a children’s photography workshop in the summer there, too.

The nasty throat infection that I got early in the week had mostly cleared by this afternoon, so I was able to speak, but that had remained iffy for several days, and it definitely slowed down my writing activity. I’ve learned that if I’m not in a decent mood for writing, pushing it doesn’t accomplish anything, and I should just scribble down some basic thoughts and come back to it when the words are flowing better. That’s part of the reason why a new topic this week hasn’t been tackled until now.

You will (of course!) remember about this time last year when I watched the red-shouldered hawks (Buteo lineatus) cavorting (or canoodling) nearby and hoped to find the nest; this did not come to pass. To make up for this, because they obviously saw how disappointed I was, the local pair this year took up residence in the neighbor’s tree, within easy sight from our back yard, front yard, and even the road, and it appears that I’ll still have a nice break in the foliage once the trees are fully leafed out, so I won’t lose sight of them. The female is currently spending a lot of time in the nest and may soon deposit the eggs – I don’t think they’ve been laid yet since they pair were doing the old flap-and-squawk a few days ago, several times. Newlyweds.

This is possibly even more fortuitous than it could have been, since the house next door that sits right under their nest (the same one that hosted our new editions to the household) has now been put up for sale, and so will likely remain unoccupied and quiet throughout the hatching and fledging period. There is even a chance that a nearby tree will be sufficient to provide a higher vantage point for photographing the nest, since it sports numerous branches at decent spacing.

I have been paying attention to the reactions of the pair to my presence, since they can see me far more easily than I can see them, and I’m concerned about them getting too spooked by humans nearby and abandoning the nest. Apparently, just to show that I’m being irrationally condescending about their timidity, the other day the male alighted in a tree in our backyard during his daily territorial patrols, and gave voice to some wonderfully piercing calls. My actions of slipping out the back door and firing off several frames with the 170-500mm lens disturbed him not a bit, despite the fact that I was roughly 15 meters away – he’s seen me too many times before, I guess. Red-shouldered hawks are among the noisiest of raptors, at least around here, because they soar about the perimeter of their territory a few times a day and issue a series of cries that are very distinct and carry no small distance. I’ve been in phone conversations and had people on the other end remark about the noise – it would probably help if I didn’t wander outside so often when I’m on the phone. If I manage to record these at some point (the hawk calls, not my phone conversations,) I’ll upload them to the site.

Nest weekend brings us the Rock Beyond Belief event at Ft Bragg, which should also be well worth attending. I had planned to be there, but I don’t think I’m going to have available transportation that day, so right now this is up in the air. I am more than happy to carpool and split costs with anyone who’s leaving from the Chapel Hill/Durham/Raleigh area, so get in touch! I promise to keep the critter stories to a minimum, unless you like them.

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