Pied Beauty

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Santa Sent An Osprey!

Osprey defends his catch
I spotted this huge beauty from the freeway.  Ospreys aren't that common around here, particularly not in urban areas like Sugar Land, Texas.  And he was in good company. Quite a few waterbirds were gathered at a small, corporate "lake" within yards of US59: several cormorants, a great blue heron, white herons, ibises, and one quiet anhinga.  But the osprey dwarfed them all.

Distinctive dark brown line through the eye
Ospreys have a 6-foot wingspan and feed exclusively on fish.  They have specially adapted talons for  holding slippery prey.  It was almost as big a surprise to see a fish this big!  This osprey kept a tight hold on his fish, though crows harassed him and he was followed by a curious family on their way to Christmas Eve dinner.

Makes a musical, chirpy sound, not a screechy cackle
I love seeing extraordinary birds like this so close to home. I'm sure it's thrilling to go on birdwatching trips all over the world, but to me, there's something so gratifying about getting to know the local birds and being surprised every now and again but uncommon visitors like the osprey. 

Sometimes called a "Sea Eagle"
I will say it helps immensely to have a designated driver on these highway birdwatching adventures!  Without the Chief Engineer's steady hand on the wheel, you'd probably be reading about me in the paper by now!  Merry Christmas and keep your eyes open -- you never know who's visiting your area today.


  1. Merry Christmas, Elizabeth! What a Christmas treat although I think last night's rain was an even more special gift! I'm a happy gardener this Christmas morning!

  2. What amazing images. They are large birds. And you caught it with dinner, too.