Moby peck

The big raucous pileated woodpeckers in our corner of the Ouachita Mountains have been the Moby Dick to my Ahab-ic photographic ambitions. For years, I’ve tried to capture a decent photo, but they’ve proven elusive, skittish and pretty good at hiding for something so large and loudly colored. But finally, FINALLY, one very vocal female lit in a tree this morning, not far from our living room window. And there she is.

Memphis curves

This week’s photo challenge is all about curves.  There’s rarely a bad angle when trying to grab a picture of the “M” bridge that carries Interstate 40 over the Mississippi to connect Arkansas and Tennessee. The image below is in downtown Memphis looking west.

6-6-16 M Bridge Downtown.jpg

Happy Place

This week’s Weekly Photo Challenge asks: ” Where’s your happy place?” For us,  it’s that place where the rising sun’s rays skim across the mountain folds, and updrafts sustain the wind play of vultures and hawks. It’s that place where birds fill the ears with chirps and whistles and hoots, and buck snorts add exclamation points to the Ouachita Mountain soundtrack. It’s also the place that has served as a bird blind, galactic observatory and deer-watching platform. That happy place is our deck.

Sunset Sept. 19, 2015.
Sunset Sept. 19, 2015.
AUTUMN FOG -- Fog fills valleys in the Ouachita Mountains. Taken Sept. 15, 2016.
AUTUMN FOG — Fog fills valleys in the Ouachita Mountains. Taken Sept. 15, 2016.

Should we be worried?

The nearest cell tower has been the roost for a small band of vultures for years. In the last weeks, however, some of the vultures have ventured closer to the house for a rest, lighting on trees just past the yard. When you glance out the kitchen window and see the large, moribund-looking birds staring back, part of you wonders if it’s an omen.

A few days later, a lightning bolt crashed near the house, knocking out the power, water, air conditioners and other and  sundry electrics, as temperatures outside soared past 100. Inside, temps in the living room hit 107. Thanks to all the repairmen who have come and gone in the last two weeks, the house is livable again.

Neither of these fellows has come to roost near the house lately. At least none that we’ve seen.

Black vulture in tree
MORBID THE YOUNGER — Young black vulture hangs out on a tree that usually serves as a roost for collared doves and indigo buntings. He’s rather a dashing bird with a sharp look about him. 
Black vulture and hummingbird.
PHOTO BOMB — Fast-moving hummingbird gets a look from one of the local black vultures. (Can’t look at this one and not think of Beaky Buzzard from the Warner Bros. cartoons as he’s bringing home a baby bumblebee. ( )