Tag Archives: Harris' Hawk

Fur, crane and juniper berries: field log

The Scientist does not study nature because it is useful to do so.  He studies it because it takes pleasure in it; and he takes pleasure in it because it is beautiful.  — Jules Henri Poincare

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[These are primary field notes taken today.  Time entered in UTC or Zulu time, i.e. 1759.  Post-field note commentary bracketed and italicized.]

12/27/2011

Flying Hat Ranch, North Erath County, Texas, Lat 32.43 N, Long -98.36 W, elev. 1,086 ft. Turkey Creek Quadrangle map.

1759.  51 deg. F.  [Cold enough to start into the field with line jacket, but by the time I got to grove, I shed the jacket, putting it on the fence post.]

1805.  Three or more ducks on pond.  No identification.  Woodpile near pond has been reduced by rain and natural deterioration.  Tree limbs and logs have settled in earth.  [Erath County has taken the burn ban off.  I’ll not burn the pile because it houses several critters.  The ducks are three and they make little noise.  They paddle to the far side of the pond as I stride by.]

1817.  Barbed wire between grove and arena pasture broken, 5 T-posts from the gate, towards the west.  Apparent deer tracks on the ground, no sign of struggle, crawling under, deer popped the strand.  Fur on ground.  Photos taken.  [I have seen juvenile deer scoot under the fence; hence, I think they broke it.  I looked carefully for signs of an entanglement in the wire, but found none and also went over to the creek embankment to make sure no deer had fallen.  I’ll repair the fence later this winter.  I wonder if it is deer “fur” or “hair?”  According to Scientific American, mammalogist, Nancy Simmons, there is no difference between fur and hair.]

1828.  Juniper berries on tree to the east of brick pile.  Tree is 20 feet high, 20 feet across  at lower crown.  Five juniper trees in immediate vicinity.  One large juniper 30 feet to east-southeast of the little grove.  This juniper is 30 feet tall, trunk is 2-3 feet in diameter.  [I had never stopped to count the number of junipers in the small grove, nor estimated the height of the tallest tree.  My recent post on junipers has prompted my focus.  I thought about picking the berries and consuming them, reenacting my Zuni experience.]

1843.  Red oak leaf falls.  I think it a floating butterfly.  Then I see the red oak.  No butterfly.  [What tricks our mind plays.  I thought for a moment that a Monarch might have roosted and emerged in the sun.  The leaf floated like a butterfly, not a swaying back-and-forth manner like a leaf.]

1849.  Two burrows near east water gap, one looks inhabited.  [Skunk, armadillo?  Other?]

1853.  Remnants of deer-stand ladder.  [I have dismantled all deer stands in the trees that I can find.  This ladder will be dismantled soon.  I hate it when nails are driven into trees.]

1855.  Bull bellows on Dooley Place.  [The Red Angus bull bellows.  ‘Twould be interesting to take field notes at a certain point for just sound, not images, just sound.]

1858.  Harris hawk ascends into tree at about 10 foot level, watches me approach, then flies low out of tree towards north.  [I have typed the Harris before.  There are two of them that soar and predate in the grove and surrounds.  They’ve been here on Flying Hat for two years.]

1908.  Scare 4-7 turkey vultures from dead mesquite tree at southwest part of grove.  [I hope Ethan Connell has checked the turkey vulture on his Life List in his Peterson’s.]

1917.  Flock of Sandhill Cranes overhead, flying north to south, catching wind currents.  [When I first heard the Sandhills,  I looked too high, gave up and then found them at a lower altitude.]

1930. Turn around at northwest corner of far field and return to house. Star whinnies at me.

1938.  White-crowned sparrows fly low in brush about arena at southeast end.

1942.  Scare up the resident jack rabbit while searching for stone tool in situ.  [I cannot find the stone tool.  I do have it located, however, on the GPS and I can locate it later.  I had placed a yellow surveyor’s flag at its place, but the elements have blown it down — or possibly, Star.]

1946.  At pasture-house gate.  [Log entries conclude.]

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Filed under Cedar, Deer, Ducks, Field Log, Sandhill Crane

Soaring Heart

I suppose one of the great observations I make from day to day is the soaring hawk, a Red-tailed (Buteo jamaicensis).

The hawk is above the debris, the remains of daily chores.  Yes, I know that he or she must come down to earth, but as I watch the hawk, I think it plays and flies for the sheer fun of it, the pleasure of flight.  Who can say?  I personify the hawk more than I should, yet, it gives me pleasure to reach out and extrapolate the behavior in familiar terms, a kinship formed.

Two Red-tails inhabit the grove on our place, a riparian swatch that I am keen on developing.  Harris’ hawks also migrate through this area, soaring closer to the ground and smaller in physique.  I hear their voices: karr from the Harris and keeer-r-r from Red-tail.  Cris-crossing, floating, the swiftness with which they predate holds my attention.  It is said that the hawk will dance on its kill.  I have not seen that and do not look for that vintage behavior, but rather I am open to what the hawk displays.  And, in the fields and grove, soaring becomes the rule for display.

To the field we should go daily.  To the field and look and listen, especially to the sky when Red-tails fly.

It is no wonder that Lame Deer, the seeker of visions, would say, when happy: My heart soars like a hawk.

Thou art that: the hawk, the soaring heart.

______________________________

Notes:

For voice and bird identification, Roger Tory Peterson, A Field Guide to Western Birds, 2nd ed., Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1969.  I have kept a life list of birds I have seen.  I’ve become interested lately in the voices and calls of birds.  The voice translation of the hawks come from Peterson.

One of the excellent sources of Native American life and biography is John (Fire) Lame Deer, Lame Deer Seeker of Visions: The Life of a Sioux Medicine Man, with Richard Erdoes, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972.  My paperback copy of Lame Deer is old and full of markings.

“Thou art that,” is an ancient Asiatic perceptual insight in meditation.  What you see (and other senses), you are.  Basically, it is an insight that breaks down boundaries among objects and creates a unity.  It is a Vedic formula for enlightenment.  One source is the Chandogya Upanishad.  I teach world civilization and some of the most interesting classes among undergraduates is trying to understand the Orient.

Banner photograph taken by J. Matthews.  It is an enlargement of the Red-tail hawk in the first thumbnail.  Nikon D300 with telescopic lens is the camera.

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Filed under Birds, Life in Balance

Field Log 4/16/2010

North Erath County, Texas, 32.43 lat., -98.36 long. Elev. 1,086 ft.  Turkey Creek Quad.

Light mist this morning.  Probably 0.20 inch of rain since yesterday.

Lilly, Star and Fanny browse front pasture.  Lilly shows age with slower gait and right back leg limp.  Sweet Hija still at ESMS on Brazos.  Shiney is at Jimmie Hardin’s in Aubrey, Texas, for ground training and conditioning for Triangle Sale, Shawnee, Oklahoma, June 5, 2010.  Miss the little guy more than I thought I would.

Pasture grasses are erupting well.  Vetch in far field is waist-high in places.

This week, Mourning Doves (Zenaidura macroura) are cooing.  No calls before then, but noticed their presence.  This morning the doves were ground feeding in the front yard.  From Peterson: has a pointed tail, most widespread dove in the West.  As to the call, Peterson says it is a “hollow mournful ooah, cooo, cooo, coo. At a distance only the three coo‘s are audible.”  The color of the dove in our front yard was a reddish-gray with black spots.  The two dove would ground feed a moment, then hunker down in the grass and loaf.  I must have watched them for ten minutes and then had to come back to office and work on college Blackboard classes.  I will have to focus on their call to hear the 00ah.  I am practicing on imitating their call better.

We have a larger dove that is whitish that appears in late summer.  It is untyped.  The two dove will perch on the power pole by the barn and watch me feed the horses.

The following are some photographs I took this morning.

Vetch and Clouds Far Field, April 2010

Prickly Pear Bush, April 2010

Cactus Fruit, April 2010

These photographs were taken last week.

Round Pen and Twin Mountains in Distance, April 2010

Harris' Hawks at Play, April 2010

Field grasses obscure pasture lanes.  Minimum shredding planned this year, indicative of lower carbon footprint.  In addition, taller grasses can harbor wildlife.  Hand cut mesquite brush this season, using clippers and large cutters.  Lessen vehicle use in pastures.

Lilly, Star and Fanny have browsed their way to the front pasture and are now standing close together, switching their tails to keep the flies away.  They have all this space to lounge around in and they prefer to stand together with their bodies almost touching.  Herd animals.  I worry about Lilly during the night and have corralled her so she can avoid predators.  One mountain lion sighting three months ago on SH 108 near Gibson place.

I must get the duct tape down in the barn and duct tape my Peterson’s Field Guide.  The binding is coming off.

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Filed under Field Log