It's truly autumn when the Sandhill Cranes return to the fields outside of town, I was thrilled to see a family with two juveniles last Tuesday:
I made a new friend while exploring the countryside when this pretty horse, wearing his heart on his forehead, ran to greet me:
Closer and closer:
One of his nonchalant companions blended in with the autumn foliage:
And indeed it's all about the autumn colours before they're gone:
Perhaps this field will soon be filled with Sandhill Cranes once the corn is harvested:
A family of Blue-winged Teal was seen in a marsh:
A female Belted Kingfisher can usually be seen here as well:
Thursday was a relaxing evening on the dock with Tessa for this spectacular sunset:
The peace and serenity of the lake made for a mellow Tessa...
At times she almost drifted off...
...but not for long.
Once a Shepherd, always a Shepherd, attentive and on guard:
I made a full circuit of the lake on Friday, starting at the Turkey Vulture roost:
On the other side of the lake I was warmly greeted again by my new best friend:
Golden leaves were shed:
I couldn't resist the colours and textures of this interesting stump:
The Sandhill Cranes had congregated in a distant field:
Lingering Red-winged Blackbirds sounded the alarm on me at the marsh where I had hoped for more views of the Blue-winged Teal family:
The week-end weather was unsettled and nasty, but between periods of drizzle and rain a Turkey Vulture basked in a moment of sunshine:
But soon it was back to the reality of autumn skies:
Another lovely sunrise was seen after chilly overnight temperatures, I was expecting to see a sheet of ice on the lake!
A Red-tailed Hawk was seen with breakfast:
Sandhill Cranes were heard before they were finally seen:
But it was this gathering of Sandhill Cranes that entertained me the most as they performed leaps and dances. I highly recommend enlarging this next sequence of photos for closer looks at their antics:
A smaller flock on the wing was spotted on the horizon so off I went, trying my best to determine its flight path a few concessions away to get closer views. My calculations were right:
This morning I had more amusing views of the Sandhill Cranes as they began to fly into the fields after sunrise ahead of the drizzle. The dark "spots" below them in this first photo are in fact other birds that I didn't notice at the time as it was so dark and dreary:
They teetered and tottered as they made their descent, their long legs extended making them look like silly stick birds!
The weather and lack of light forced me home, but not before seeing a Northern Harrier on the hunt:
My most unexpected sighting was that of a distant juvenile Peregrine Falcon, seen perched in a tree on a back road quite close to the cottage:
I'm really looking forward to more views of these Dancing Queens, though!