Saturday, February 11, 2012

Strange Perch-fellows

In cleaning up some of my picture files, I noticed I had completely forgotten to post that I had seen a Sharp-shinned Hawk on a visit to Bayfront Park back in January.  Although not typical for January, that was another warm day which seems to have become somewhat typical of the weather this winter.  Of note, although we've had an unseasonably warm winter in much of North America, many other areas of the world have had a frigidly cold winter.  Typically I like my winters snowy and cold.  Makes keeping the house warm with the wood stove that much more rewarding after having cut and split it the spring before.

Sharp-shinned Hawk and Canada Goose

However, I believe I was out enjoying the warm weather, looking for some of the bird rareties which had been reported along the trail.  And I had my usual lack of success.  But I did get to see this Sharp-shinned Hawk which was moving between the railway cars in the rail yard which abuts the Bayfront Trail.  When I came upon it, it was odd to see it along side about 10 Canadian Geese up on the rail cars!  Although a Sharpy would not take on a large goose, I would assume this would not have been a comfortable arrangement in the eyes of the geese.  They didn't seem bothered in the slightest though.

The high chain-link fence along the trail that I was shooting through kept me from getting any closer, which I would have loved to do. Raptors are really my keenest interest, but they are so hard to get near to in their natural element. It's hard to tell Sharp-shinned hawks apart from Cooper's Hawks with their very similarly markings and shape. Some of the key distinguishing differences I try to remember are these:
Sharpy's head looks small compared to the body;
Cooper's looks more like the proportion of a Red-tailed Hawk
Sharpy's tail is more squared and the cooper's rounded. 
Cooper's have a thicker white tip where the Sharpy's is much finer.

Here is a great link which gives good tips to tell the difference:

On my way home from work that night, I was treated with a beautiful sunset.  Many people also did the same thing as me and parked along York Street, just past the high bridge, and tried to capture with camera what you really can only truly enjoy in person.  What beauty has been given to us to enjoy.  Thinking of trying to capture something as grand as a sunset, gets you to ponder how amazing the eye is: it can quickly focus far and near, adjust to a huge range of light levels, registers a splendid range of colours, and captures a very large field of view of almost 180 degrees.  This last ability of the eye is why capturing a grand view like a sunset with a camera just doesn't seem to match our memories from being there in person.

Sunset over Cootes Paradise

And though we do not even think to doubt there was a team of designers who produced the cameras we use and enjoy, can it be comprehended that our eyes are any less the handiwork of an amazing Designer?

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