Friday, August 15, 2014

Coffee at the Cedars

I have a favorite early morning perch at Halibut Point for bird photography. Back-warming light floods onto the cedars where the birds will visit. At this hour the light and air mix tangibly to enhance visibility just when the birds are most active.

I settle into a glacier-smoothed pocket on the quarry rim to make myself into a human tripod, one leg draped over the ledge, the other propped up to support elbows and camera. It's so cozy the coffee levitates all the senses.
One regular companion usually looks the other way out over the quarry from a dwarfed cedar growing in a nearby crevice. This kingbird values unobstructed sight lines for bug hunting just as I do for photographs. It jets off now and then to catch something in midair or on the water surface.
Fox sparrow
 In the upland direction various unidentifiable flitterings resolve into a portrait when a small brown fellow takes to the cedar-top and comes into focus as a fox sparrow with rufous wings and tail.

Young starlings
A pair of juvenile starlings show the social nature of their species that can aggregate into the vast flocks we sometimes see maneuvering as a singular cloud of birds. One of the pair has begun to feather itself in the dark iridescence of an adult.

Eastern red cedars (juniperus virginiana)
The cedars rise out of a grassy heath from thin soil on the granite. The open terrain is rich in berries, seeds and insects.

Brown thrasher

The trees give a good vantage point to ground dwellers like the brown thrasher that want an occasional look-around.

 A mockingbird presides over the realm, not so much regally as a garrulous jester, a proprietorial scold. He was the first to take to the air in combat when a hawk appeared on the scene.
Baltimore oriole
Brightly-colored orioles that are harder to see within the leafy canopies of their usual deciduous trees stand out in the crown of a cedar.

Cedar waxwing
The iconic avian of the cedars is the cedar waxwing, a study in gradations of taupe and masked élan. Come winter these birds include cedar berries in their diet, hence the name.
Cedar berries
  As for me, berries of the coffee tree help to pass the winter agreeably.

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