James caught this little fellow contemplating his breakfast. He (or she) is a Merlin, quite a small hawk but a bit bigger than a kestrel. "Breakfast" is a native sparrow of some sort, as opposed to an English sparrow which isn't.
Fall is truly upon us now. Last week was warm and on the first official day of autumn it turned cold enough we've been having fires in the wood stove in the morning. Driving home today flocks of little birds wheeled overhead on the wind like the scattering leaves. It's amazing how many leaves can be blowing with the trees still full. The dazzling colours aren't here quite yet but they are coming.
The hornets were so plentiful and aggressive this summer that these cooler days are welcome. Many afternoons we spent on the deck enjoying the shade but armed with two of those electric tennis racket zappers. This was not an easy summer.
Tonight the deck is wet and black with rain. After such a hot dry summer rain is welcome. I'd love a good dousing and then a nice "Indian Summer."
James has been painting sunflowers and pumpkins in honour of the season and on Monday we drove to Sirdar on Duck Lake and, with a couple other local artists, scrambled down the little goat trail of a path to the shore where they painted the row boats tied up at the water's edge.
Duck Lake is part of the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area, a wildlife refuge and jewel of our valley. It is home to many species of nesting birds, water fowl in particular, and a great Bass fishing lake to boot.
This week James has also been starting wine. All summer he got up early to pick the blackberries before the hornets could turn them to mush and before the deer picked them. He picked them a couple cups at a time and stowed them away in the freezer. Now he has a batch of blackberry wine and one of blackcurrant wine on the go. We know more than at his first attempt over 30 years ago. We will be patient.