American Kestrel

November 2 2012. Ruthven Park Cayuga ON.   As often as not it’s not the bird, or at least not the species, that makes it as Bird of the Day, it’s the spectacle of an individual bird.  Today at the bird observatory an adult Bald Eagle and a female American Kestrel soared overhead together.  The eagle was way up high, but the kestrel was low and it made one of those characteristic slow, wheeling turns that raptors in particular seem to be so good at.  With its wings spread, tail fanned, and the sun back-lighting it, it was a MasterCard ‘Priceless’ moment.

The upset of Tropical Storm Sandy had pretty much moved on today. Our early morning skies were still a bit troubled but not quite as lumpy or tumbled looking as they had been for the past few days.  By mid morning wide blue gaps reappeared; a sky on the mend.  The storm has stripped the trees bare revealing their bones and uncovering a raw landscape.

One of my census walk companions said she loves November, particularly since she’s discovered the joy of greys; then became all wistful as if it were babies or grandchildren she was talking about. She also told us she’d just learned she has the hearing of a 25 year-old, which she promptly proved by picking out some little ‘tseep’ sounds that turned out to be a group of five Golden Crowned Kinglets lurking in a dense riverside clump of willow and clematis.  Then for a long while there was precious little more except a solitary Mallard flying up river, a pair of Brown Creepers exploring the top of a small Black Walnut and occasional maybe-woodpecker sounds that we couldn’t quite pin down.  We watched two Red-bellied Woodpeckers squabble over tree ownership and could hear Eastern Bluebirds, American Goldfinches and Pine Siskins calling all around us.  But it’s inescapable, the days of little pretty birds are behind us; Slate-coloured Juncos and American Tree Sparrows (although handsome in their own right) have moved in, it’s definitely November.