hey guys – anyone seen fred?

We’re snowed in here at Toad Hall, which is always nice, especially when we’ve got all the essentials.  Not necessarily listed in order of importance:  4 working flashlights, batteries, enough firewood to last us until next year, bags and bags of pellets for the wood stove, food, lots of downloaded movies and beer.  The dodgy phone service is fine, but the downside of the isolation is that it’s taken me all afternoon to upload this entry.  Our internet stick is slow, slow, slow…akin, technologically, to sending messages by carrier pigeon.

Speaking of pigeons, yesterday we went to see The Hobbit but with all that snow it took us about 20 minutes just to scrape off the car before we could leave.  We were distracted momentarily by one of those other-worldly events.  In the quiet of the cold but sunny afternoon there was a sudden thrush of movement overhead.  Scores of mourning doves flew out of the trees around us, an impressive show since we usually see the doves in sets of two or four, not in flocks.  It appeared that they had been silently watching us, unnoticed.  What made them fly away?  One of their number was in the clutches of a Cooper’s Hawk that landed not thirty feet from us on the driveway.  My phone was left behind so I couldn’t take a picture, but it’s just as well because I would have missed the moment.

At one time in my life I might have picked up something to throw nearby in a futile attempt to distract the bird from his lunch, but the beauty of the hawk was overwhelming, and I felt privileged to be allowed to be so close to him.   He didn’t move right away as I walked to within 15 feet of him, then he flew over the shrubs and landed again still holding onto the unmoving dove.

I’ve since discovered that this particular hawk kills its prey by squeezing it to death in its talons before it starts pulling off feathers.  Needless to say, it was with a heavy heart that I watched the mourning doves congregate underneath our feeder this morning.  Every time we counted there were odd numbers.  Probably just a coincidence.





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