On the way to Ithaca the other day, we saw this American kestrel hunting beside the road. They are such beautiful little birds! It was perched on a lightpost, then it fluttered to the power line, studying the ground in search of lunch.
He’s so beautifully colored; he looks painted. We see them sometimes hovering as they hunt, but this one put on no such show for us.
Having survived the decision to stop beside a busy thoroughfare to snap pictures of a kestrel, we went on to Taughannock Falls for a hike.
We took the trail up to the top of the falls and looked down on some of the smaller falls from above.
We met some turkey vultures along the rim.
It was a walk of a few miles, and though the overcast wasn’t great for photos, it made the heat much more bearable. The girls were ready to wade when we got back to the bottom, so we joined the rest of the multitude of people and polliwogs there, splashing around.
We hadn’t seen any songbirds, though we’d heard a few insistent warblers up along the rim. But after we packed away the cameras and went across the road to use the rest rooms before leaving, the trees were full of birds: cedar waxwings, warbling vireos, and I even caught a glimpse of an American redstart.
We visited the hawks after that, and as we were leaving Ithaca we made a brief diversion to Sapsucker Woods. The Visitor Center was closed for the day, and though the trails were still open, it all had the peaceful atmosphere of a place being reclaimed by its inhabitants. A squirrel sunned itself on a railing and watched us drowsily. A ruby-throated hummingbird — a species I have seldom seen in any other mood than territorial fury — shook out its feathers and rested. Turtles eyed us from the grass. A couple of orioles caroled from treetops. Everything about the scene radiated a quieting spirit.
No visit would be complete without a look at these guys.
This guy ran full-tilt toward my daughter -- then turned and high-tailed it away when he saw himself being photographed!
This turtle was sunning itself in the middle of the pavement, so we moved him.
All in all it was a full day, rich in beauty. We always have the sense of barely scratching the surface when we visit Ithaca.