We noticed this guy when he swooped down to the seed-feeder and then chased after a chickadee. We definitely root for the little chickadees and, in fact, think they should be our state bird since they don’t bug out in the winter like the Robins do. The chickadee escaped unharmed.
The Merlin sat on this branch in a nearby white pine, focused on our feeder pole. All activity ceased at the feeders. No chickadees. No nuthatches. No finches, even though the feeders had been Grand Central Station before the Merlin arrived. The Merlin sat on the branch for about 10 minutes. Around then, a Blue Jay started pestering him. The jay flew very close to the Merlin, landing on either side of him on the same branch. The jay seemed to hit the Merlin at least once. Apparently, with his “cover” blown, the Merlin decided to go find better hunting grounds.
We initially misidentified this Merlin as a Sharp-shinned Hawk. The two birds are similarly sized, and do look somewhat alike. But, apparently, the Merlin’s mustache stripe is a give-away. Sharpies are not mustachioed. And they have a longer tail and a less elongated body. Merlins are small birds of prey–ranging only between 9.5 and 11.5 in length.
According to the Cornell ornithology website, Merlins have two modes: scanning areas patiently from a tree, and flying at top speed in pursuit of small birds. We were fortunate to see both modes. Merlins are known to hunt in pairs at times. One Merlin will flush a flock of waxwings and the other comes in for the kill, taking advantage of the confusion.
When nesting, Merlins are squatters. They use an abandoned nest from a crow, raven, hawk or magpie.
This is Long Lake in early January, just after dawn. The light on the opposite shore is just what the eye saw. No photoshop tricks here. Just the deep gray sky beginning to brighten to bits of blue. The frozen lake with a light dusting of snow. And the focused bath of golden light just after sunrise.
Jeff is one very serious fisherman. Here he is on Long Lake, near his favorite pike spot. Last October, Jeff caught a 38 inch pike near here. A few days ago, Jeff caught a 33 inch pike at the same spot.
Shelly, Jeff (and Julie’s) Great Dane, is also one very serious fisherdog. This is no “I bet when you go fishin’ you keep on a wishin’ the fish don’t bite at ‘yur line” look. Shelly is pure concentration and loving every minute out on the water.
Here’s how the American Kennel Club describes Shelly’s breed:
The Great Dane combines, in its regal appearance, dignity, strength and elegance with great size and a powerful, well-formed, smoothly muscled body. It is one of the giant working breeds, but is unique in that its general conformation must be so well balanced that it never appears clumsy, and shall move with a long reach and powerful drive.
Shelly is a Great Dane with a great loud bark. We tried to capture that bark for you, and as soon as Steve put the microphone near Shelly she went silent. This dignified dog does not bark for show.
What a great day to be fishing!
Mid-September on Long Lake. Lots of docks are already out. For many, Labor Day and back to school call a halt to lake activities. The Dog Day afternoons of August do seem far behind us. It was 37 degrees near dawn on Sunday morning.
These quiet times are often some of the best days of the year to be out on the water. Tubing and jet skis are rarely seen. But this can be the prime time for kayaks, the occasional pontoon, and even a paddle board for the wet-suit equipped.
The adult loons have left for their wintering grounds. Our lake’s adolescent chick will be here for at least another month. The chick is flapping its wings and seems to be trying to figure out how to take-off. We haven’t seen any flight yet, though.
Recently we’ve seen eagles, blue herons, and even a three foot long pike moving lazily in the shallows of Ghost Bay. In the lower lake, three river otters put on quite a playful show one afternoon. A doe is regularly bringing her two fawns onto our property. They seem to be enjoying our bumper crop of acorns. We’ve watched an adult pileated woodpecker feeding what must be a young offspring.
And the sunsets. My, the sunsets. We’ve had show-stopper reds and oranges, for sure. But the subtle grays and yellows, those are the calming ones that currently command our full attention.
This guy was high, high up in a white pine on the east side of Long Lake, sort of looking toward Belly Button Island. That’s what we call the big island, anyway. As far as I know, it doesn’t really have a name.
This eagle was definitely lord of all he surveyed. We watched for several minutes while he perched. We moved on and then saw him flying across the lake.
It seems like there’s been a lot of Bald Eagle sightings this year. Hopefully, we’ll have a nest on the lake and we can enjoy a pair for many years. Wouldn’t that just be the cat’s meow?