WARNING! Portions of this post may be NSFW if you work for a particularly prudish osprey.
Yesterday I went to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. In some ways it seems like the national park time forgot. It’s unmanned – the $2 entrance fee is based on the honor system – and the entrance road and parking lot don’t appear to have been paved in a couple of decades. There’s a vehicular trail that Mark and I have driven around before, which left us bored and confused because we didn’t see any of the abundant wildlife we were promised. I suspect, possibly because we were in a Jeep, we were expecting a safari. We didn’t stay that time, but I later had a hunch I’d have much better luck on the pedestrian trails, because wildlife would probably like a park no one knows about. I therefore returned on my own yesterday. Without my faithful tripod boy, I decided to forgo the tripod and try my luck hand-holding the rather-heavy telephoto lens.
The moment I set foot on the trail, a bunny crossed my path. I took this as a good omen, and it turned out to be so.
If bald eagles are Mason Neck’s claim to fame, osprey are apparently the neighboring Occoquan Bay’s. Within minutes of my lucky rabbit I was rewarded with:
Things quickly got a little…racy.
I have to admit, I’m a sucker for raptors. I think they are fascinating. When I came home and saw how well some of the pictures of the ospreys turned out, I was excited and sent a link to the whole set to Smark, my mother, father, and Fortinbras. Every one of them except my father said the osprey photos were nice but they loved the tree swallow. (My father said they were all great.) Don’t get me wrong, the tree swallow is adorable, but he was by far the easiest picture I took all day! He stood still staring at me for five minutes as I was a foot away – all I had to do was get far enough away to focus on him with my completely unnecessarily huge lens.
I’m enraptured by raptors, but I like little birds too. For example this Eastern bluebird.
Here she is again. I like this photo but I can sort of envision it as a Hallmark “get well soon” card or something.
I do love the gentle nature and sweet innocence of songbirds, but look at the power of this thing!
How can you not be in awe of a creature that is clearly looking at you thinking, “I wish you were a fish so I could tear your flesh to shreds and eat you alive.”?!
In other news, we are leaving for our trip to Amsterdam, Paris, and Nice in a few short days and I am busy preparing. I probably won’t have time to post again this week, although I will try to make a post from abroad. Here’s a quick raccoon update to tide you over:
We got five more tiny babies in. We always give them a stuffed animal in their cage to snuggle with, a kind of surrogate mom. Here they are after their first feeding of the day, snuggling under the purple bunny.
Aaand, we pawned another baby off on Emmie! What a generous mother she is! Here is (most of) her brood:
Smark was catching up on I Eat Food yesterday and said, “it’s turning into a raccoon blog.” Oops. Hey, that’s my thing, right? There are about a gazillion vegan food blogs, but how many of them have baby raccoons, I ask you? I have food posts planned, though. There was even a recipe in Life: a User’s Manual (which I finally finished), and you know how I love making recipes I find in fiction. It’s French of course, so it requires some heavy veganizing. When I return, the farmers market will be open (can….not….wait) and I’ll be so inspired….either by the fantastic food I enjoyed in France, or the starvation I endured there!
And now, I must get back to frantic preparations…beginning with some non-frantic sleep.