Sometimes Nature shows you amazing things

January 17, 2007

Yesterday, Mimi and I took a long walk around Town Lake, relishing the lack of cars on the streets (due to everything being closed by the icy weather — restaurants, even) and the dearth of foot traffic on the hike and bike trail. We were surprised at the bird activity all along the shoreline, from the de rigueur water birds (American coots, swans, cormorants, wood ducks, yellow-crowned night herons, great blue herons, etc.) to a swirl of activity in the leafless trees (cardinals, sparrows, mockers, and tiny ones that Mimi thought were kinglets, but wasn’t able to confirm without a field guide).

We were treated to a grand display of the natural order when we spied a sizeable hawk jumping from limb to limb through the twist of branches along the shoreline. We’re not sure exactly what type of hawk it was but have narrowed it down to either a red-tail or ferruginous. We thought maybe it was injured because of the way it hopped from one perch to the next, spreading it’s wings as it leapt, colliding with the tangled branches in it’s path, and then painstakingly folding its large wings once it landed. After a couple minutes of observation, it became clear that it was stalking the cardinals and mockingbirds flitting around the same branches. This is very strange way for such a large hawk to hunt — we suspect that it may be a juvenile, trying to score a meal any way it can! At one point it leapt and descended a few feet to the shore below, stood there a few moments, and then flew to a large, protruding limb high above. It paused for some time, looking around, and then it began to tear the feathers off it’s catch (a mockingbird, we think — without binoculars it was hard to know). We watched for a few minutes as it devoured its prey, but it became obvious that our presence concerned him — he kept pausing to check on us (or was he just chewing his food thirty times?) — so we left him to eat his meal in peace.

We always feel lucky to witness nature in action like this.

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