Friday, March 12, 2010

Hawks along the Chippewa River

It's been gray and rainy all week.  The mornings are foggy and bone-chilling cold.  But by noon, according to the thermometer, it felt more like spring (45º).

I had to take the Prius out for a spin - up to Meridean to see what changes have accompanied the warm weather.

The snow cover of a week ago is virtually gone, filling local farm fields with shallow lakes and spilling over the banks of local creeks.  Ice is out on the Lower Chippewa River, and most of the shallows and  sand bars are again submerged.  Spring on a wild-flowing river.

At first we didn't see many birds.

No flocks of Horned Larks and juncos along the roadsides.

But flocks of starlings were everywhere - in the treetops, on the utility wires and in farm fields.  I was pleasantly surprised to see pairs of Bald Eagles flapping furiously just ahead.  I'd forgotten... this is the time of year they do their aerial displays.  I pulled off the road to watch.

Not great photos, but you get the idea - synchronized aerial flights, bringing to mind the recent ice dance competition at the Vancouver Olympics.  This pair got a 10 in my book!

Further down the road, my first American Kestrel of the spring, and lots of red-tails - mobbed by crows.

I took the time to "practice" defensive driving on RR 107.  I wanted to know how it "felt" to turn off the power to my Prius while while driving.  I was nervous about doing it, after all, it is a computer and it's not "good" to just turn it off without going through the normal shut-down process.

But I needed to know what would happen, just in case my Prius did the sudden acceleration thing.  I followed the procedures recommended by my Toyota sales representative, Rebecca Singer.

I pushed the ignition button and held it.  When it didn't shut off immediately, I had to fight the urge to push it again.  It was counter-intuitive.  But a few seconds later it shut down (the steering wheel did not lock). 

So now I know.  Just in case.

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