It’s been getting warmer for the last few days, and all around the hill, a few of the more daring oaks have started sprouting buds and getting ready to unfurl this years leaves.
Around breakfast time, the turkey troop came up onto the hill pecking at the ground. The kitchen window afforded an excellent front row seat, so I sat with my coffee and admired the show.
Though the toms are more flamboyant, the hens also possess iridescent feathers, and break out in unexpected patches of colors sometimes when they move and the light is just so.
The day started getting cloudy, then breaking out into light scattered rain. In between showers, the local birds carried on making a living.
Birds love perching on the kindling and logs around the fire pit in the front of the house when they sweep by to peck around for food.
This is a black phoebe.
The true sign of spring, a robin sitting among the buds of an oak.
Then a thunderstorm blew in, with near constant lightning, and hail suddenly started to fall hard, loud rapping on the metal roof overhead, for about half an hour. Some of the hail was an inch or so in size. Glad I was inside!
Okay, what a day.
Wow. This has been a pretty great critter day, additionally so because I have the new crazy amazing Nikon Coolpix P900 camera up here.
I managed to capture a blue jay during the dawn patrol shift of feeding birds which visit the hilltop here in view of the kitchen windows.
After working all day hauling dirt to make a nice flat spot, I was sitting out under a large oak coppice when the late afternoon patrol of feeding birds flew in to catch some dinner in the trees surrounding the oak.
Maybe a female Yellow-Rumped Warbler?
A male Western Bluebird. This feller looks a little aggravated about something.
A Yellow-Rumped Warbler.
A red-breasted nuthatch.
Being still for a few minutes on a plot of land with no dogs is great. Stuff happens, like this squirrel who came over to some pine trees about 40 feet away from where I was sitting quietly. It went under a pine tree, grabbed a pine cone, put it in its mouth, then climbed the pine tree, where it safely ate the pine nuts out of the cone, then tossed it to the ground and then scrabbled down to the ground and repeated with another pine cone until I stood up and it scampered down the hill. A little later, I saw it at the bottom of the hill, a slash of gray, about 300 feet away and snapped the picture above. Have I mentioned what a cool frikken’ camera this is??
I heard the gobble-gobble the day I got up here, so knew there were turkeys somewhere nearby. A couple days later I was walking around with the new awesome camera when I was surprised to see a little squad of 6 turkey hens wandering a couple hundred feet away, pecking at the ground for breakfast.
Later, when I was making lunch in the cabin, I was surprised to see the hens, joined by 2 toms, wandering around the hilltop.
The toms came first to the back door, and then to the front, gobbling fiercely and pumping themselves up to make sure I didn’t get any ideas about messing with the hens.
Not a problem, guys.
When the tom puffs up their feathers, there is a sound like the wind drumming on stretched canvas. Their feathers are multicolored in the sun, depending on the angle of view.
There is no getting around the fact that though beautiful, wild tom turkeys are creepy looking bad-ass mother fuckers.
I keep a Nikon D3100 up here on the hill because the place and the local critters are all so photogenic. The D3100 is a great DSLR and I’ve owned it for many years, and wasn’t really looking for an upgrade. That is, until we got a Nikon Coolpix P900 for work.
The Coolpix is roughly the same form factor as the D3100, albeit a little bulkier. But oh what a difference a lens system makes. I have a standard 18mm – 70mm zoom lens on the D3100. The Coolpix P900 comes with an integrated 4.2mm – 357mm zoom lens delivering a whopping 83X magnification. The onboard image stabilization makes for some seriously crazy closeups.
So, I knew I had to get one for the cabin.
Here it is with the zoom fully extended.
Because it is about the same size and bulk as the D3100, it easily fits in the same camera bag as my old D3100.
I can’t wait to use it for some critter shots.