Friday, December 02, 2005

The Day of the Predators

The day began with a trip into Port Jervis with Claude when he went into physical therapy this morning. A very light frosting of snow fell last night. Clouds are so thick that the day is dark and there is very little color with the rising sun. Our route takes us down the hill along the Mongaup river to the Delaware river where we turn to southeast toward New Jersey and follow along the river canyon through the serpentine twists and turns of the road as it goes along the cliffs of Hawks Nest. We stopped along Hawks Nest to try to catch the morning light above the Delaware and see if we can get a photograph of the twisting curves of the road and river.

Wind is cruel as it comes up through the river gap. The touch of ice that it carries bites any exposed flesh. I wrap my scarf tight around my neck to shut out the wind’s sting. The scene is darkly glowering like an illustration from some gothic Victorian novel.

It was a thrill to discover an eagle directly above the rocky cliff over our heads. He was gliding/resting on a current of air rising from the cliff. A second eagle joined the first then a third. Just as I was getting my camera poised in some vain hope that it might be able to take this type of a picture after a good night’s rest… the crows arrived…. Perhaps one of the reasons why they are such a ubiquitous species is that they just will not tolerate competitors. They are often first to challenge intruders into their territory.

In town, I thought there would be nothing to do but wait in a parking lot surrounded by electrical wires but found the clouds over the hills and a white cupola grist for my camera. Ever changing motion of the clouds across the sky captures my artistic eye. Patterns of light and dark one moment, the next glowing with the slightest touch of sunlight. Our skies are seldom completely clear of clouds but today the clouds rule supreme covering any hint of blue. Layer upon layer of clouds, each layer moving at a differing pace across the sky. A thin layer of clouds momentarily obscuring the sun, then letting it peek through again. Contrasts of dark and light seem to compel the lens to focus their direction in an attempt to record the stark beauty.

Two huge mixed flocks of starlings and crows circle overhead. This is the day of the predators. A Cooper’s Hawk darts like an arrow upward toward the flock, catching an unsuspecting bird. Returning to a grove of trees next to the railroad tracks, he swiftly tears into his catch.


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