Waxwings3I’ve been seeing glimpses of this flock for several days out my window. They rise and fall as swiftly and gracefully as snowflakes on the whim of the wind. Moving between evergreens heavy with pine cones, mountain ash trees laden with berries, and a huge silver birch with winter buds.  It seems each time I decide to go outside and watch them they are gone by the time I bundle up and lace up my boots. I’ve been sneaking shots through the window, but really, they are too fast for me.

© Karen McRae, 2016

Flight Patterns



FlightPatterns_Gulls3Part of the rhythm of autumn; skies interspersed with migratory birds, punctuation marks of the shifting seasons.

[Longish exposures of Canadian Geese, and a lone seagull]
© Karen McRae, 2015

Spring Rush 2

A lot can change in a couple of weeks. The landscape is now teeming with life and tender growth. Heatwaves and sunshine. The pace of change is almost dizzying. It’s hard to keep up with everything. I have had a chance to check in on the purple martins, though, who have returned from their far-away winter grounds in Brazil. They are busy catching insects, bickering, and setting up house for this year’s breeding. Pictured here is a female martin in flight.

© Karen McRae, 2015

Origami Gulls


The-Gulls-7The warm weather birds are returning. And while the land, too, has returned from under the snow, the rivers and lakes are still holding vast expanses of ice. I was watching these seagulls bickering, swooping and foraging at the open edges of the water, catching little fish and the lovely afternoon light. Some of the slow-shutter-speed images made me think of paper cranes which explains the title ‘Origami Gulls’.








© Karen McRae, 2015

Something in the Air


It has been -20c for a month and a half.

This statement may be an exaggeration but only a slight one. If one wanted to know for sure they could always check here, but why bother. It feels like it’s been -20c for a month and a half. Even for a winter lover it’s a bit cold.

The birds have had enough. I hear them calling for spring in their songs. Perhaps even insisting on it. At least, these sound like spring songs I am hearing. Yes, I am hearing one now…? And the feathered ones seem especially active. But it could be that they are just trying to keep warm.

Nature is pressing on, though. I see the bluejays picking at tight winter buds and catkins on some of the trees (how do they still manage to produce those in this cold?!). The sleepy pussy willows are likely growing those fur coats they need for early spring – I haven’t checked yet.

Anyway, there is something in the air besides -20.

Dozens-of-Waxwings1A flock with dozens of Waxwings, spotted yesterday.






© Karen McRae, 2015

Winter Dance






Here we go. The first real snow came today. I couldn’t resist going out to watch the landscape brighten as the snow sifted down. It wasn’t too cold, either. Just warm enough for fingerless mittens and standing still while the chickadees dance at your fingertips.


© Karen McRae, 2014

Dark Leaves

Even as I was in the car driving I could hear the lot of them. They were congregated across the high trees. Arguing. Falling like dark leaves from the branches as they took turns plundering the cornfields. Tiny seeds in greedy black beaks.

[A flock of common fabulous grackles layered with a multiple exposure of trees]
© Karen McRae, 2014

Up with the Birds




Purple-Martins-6Above: Purple Martins in flight

I stopped in to see the Purple Martins after a very early start to my day. If I were a Robin I might have got the first worm…

There is a lot of activity as they are busily collecting materials for their little nest-box homes. I spotted a pair of Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) attempting to build a nest in one of the boxes. It seemed that the Martins were discouraging their presence but those Starlings are tenacious.

StarlingandNestMaterials1Above: Moving in ~ A Starling in flight, gathering nesting materials

Each type of bird has its own wonderful shifting form when in movement. I don’t think I could ever tire of observing and trying to capture these various forms. Anyway, I like how these images look a bit like drawings and this process is giving me some ideas (and reference material) for an art project.

© Karen McRae, 2014