Shambling Chase

I’m afraid I’ve been rather bothering the birdlife, lately: yesterday, I hissed at a hungry sparrow; today, I chased a hummingbird from tree to tree — though, chased, in this case, might be too generous a term. Chasing implies some degree of speed, while this pursuit took place in gastropodean fashion.

I first spotted the wee git where Bucketwheel gives way to Leg In Boot Square. It was high in a tree, mostly obscured by branches, preening itself. Taking its photo proved impossible, from my angle, so I decided to get under the tree. I didn’t want to frighten the bird, so I crept up like molasses, inch by inch, till I was almost (but not quite, for obvious reasons) directly beneath it. I found a gap in the branches, poked my lens through, focused, and —

— whirr.

Of course. Off like a shot, to the next tree. But that was fine. I was going that way, anyway. I shuffled along gamely in its wake, peering at it through my lens all the while. Again, I snuck up; again, I found my vantage point: ready! Aim!

— whirr.

Bloody hell. This time, it fluttered a bit farther, all the way to Moberly Road, where it hid in some bushy coniferous thing, like a Christmas tree, only giant. I could just see its shiny crown, hoving in and out of view as its branch rose and fell with the wind. Still, I’d come this far: I had to at least try for a shot. In I slunk, closer and closer, circling, peeking through my lens, hoping for a gap in the needles. I’d just found a patch where I had half the bird in the picture, when —



It rocketed into the sky, then, far out of reach of my lens, into one of the largest trees on the street. Well-played, hummingbird; well-played — but I wasn’t defeated, quite yet. The tree it had chosen was across the street from my building. My fifth-floor breezeway was at a level with the bird, though too far away for a clear shot. Here’s what I got:

Come out, hummingbird!

Get out from behind those branches!

Flap harder!

Flap harder…ya nasty wee featherbag!

Look over here!

Sorry I called you a nasty wee featherbag. Nice bird. Good bird. C’mon…look over here!

I think that’s an Anna’s hummingbird, but at such a distance, it’s hard to be sure. It’s got an awfully short tail. Maybe a calliope hummingbird? But I think those are striped, at the throat. And Anna’s hummingbirds are much more common, here. But I can’t check it off my list, on such a shaky determination. (If anyone can say for sure, based on these third-rate shots, please speak up!)

Silly thing couldn’t have held still when I was right under its tree! I swear, birds have some sort of…malevolent photo-prescience: they know exactly when you’re going to snap the shutter on them, and that’s when they fly off, or scratch their nethers with their beaks, or do a stupid bird dance. It’s like a game, with them.

I did pick up one interesting tidbit: my neighbour across the road has a hummingbird feeder, cleverly concealed amongst his plants. He’s totally bogarting the hummers! I’ve only ever had one visit me, and I had plenty of flowers, till the gulls squashed them down. Maybe I’ll get a sugar feeder, too. My current feeder is attracting entirely the wrong sort of bird.

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