May 10 Shelf Cloud as it clears a tree line to my west. This one was silent until it arrived with 34+ mph winds of very cold air.
It’s “shelfie” season: the time of year when springtime convective weather generates strong thunderstorms and picture-worthy shelf clouds. The popular term for shelf cloud photos, playing upon the term used for smart phone self-portraits or selfies, is shelfie.
May 10 was the first opportunity. I took up position and awaited the storm’s arrival in the parking lot of a public park. As the storm approached I could see only the separated top of the shelf above the treeline; that gave it the appearance of a wall of cloud (not a wall cloud) looming in the distance. The feature came closer and finally made visual separation from the trees and I knew I wasn’t about to be swept away!
Looking like a wall of clouds, the separated top of the approaching shelf cloud is visible above a tree line.
The storm was silent, no thunder, until it drew closer and I could hear the roar of wind in the treetops. A 34 mph peak wind was plenty strong, however, and ushered in a steep temperature drop. I was glad to have a jacket with me.
May 14 Shelf Cloud. You can see the rain curtain in the distance. When the view of the far woods turned white, I knew it was time to get into the car or get very wet!
Another photo-op presented itself with a squall line of severe thunderstorms on May 14. I thought I’d given myself enough time to reach a selected observation point in a city park in Lorain County but as I drove I realized I wouldn’t make it in time. So I bailed to a rural road and found a likely spot: a farmer’s access drive from the road to an wide-open field. I parked, got out of my car, and there it was! There was thunder and lightning with this one so I had some concern; nearby objects were better targets than me so I told myself I was okay. The shelf rolled over my location quickly. Intense rain arrived with 43 mph winds. And then it stopped. The rain and wind simply stopped. That was a very intense, concentrated line that moved along very quickly. A strange experience.
After the Storm. The rain abruptly ended, the wind calmed, and the sky to the west became bright. A strange experience.
Pre-flight Stretch. A Great Blue Heron stretches one of its impressive wings as it prepares to visit our pond on a fishing sortie.
A Great Blue Heron has occasionally been seen perching on a branch of a nearby dead tree. Yesterday I spotted the bird in time to grab my camera and, as discreetly as possible, shoot photos of it. I watched as it sat, then preened a bit, stretched, then took flight down to the edge of our pond. Frogs, fish, and other prey attract the random heron, and our neighborhood Red Shouldered Hawk.
Our local Red-Shouldered Hawk alighted on a tree near our pond Sunday as it has been doing of late. The raptor — this one or a lookalike — has regularly rocketed across our front yard, staked out our bird feeder, bagged itself a Mourning Dove, dined on a bullfrog, easily earning the Murder Bird reference.
Deadly though it may be, this bird is beautiful and interesting to watch. It stayed for a long time on the tree branch, looking around, probably hunting from its perch. I’ve shot some photos of the hawk as it perched in other spots but never got shots of it in flight — they’re just so fast! Patiently waiting helps but this time I had a good vantage point with some space and, therefore, time to react when the bird launched. Murder Bird stretched its tail, stretched each wing, scratched itself, and faced the wind.
Off it went! I was able to shoot only a few frames and most were not very clear as I pushed to catch up with the hawk’s fast-accelerating movement; one shot, the one above, was decent enough to show. Our Murder Bird is a vicious predator but absolutely gorgeous and thrilling to watch.
We’re near, rather beyond the time when I withdraw my bird feeder from use leaving the birds to fend for themselves over the warmer months.
The bird feeder has been busy. I have not been busy. So I shot a good number of photos of birds at or near the bird feeder, only a few feet from my office window.
Several larger birds have escaped me because they cannot fit inside the wire fence cylinder that protects the feeder from squirrels and deer. The bigger birds show up and quickly leave, seeking treats elsewhere; they include Bluejays and a Red Bellied Woodpecker. The woodpecker has landed on the cage occasionally and used its pointed beak and long tongue to retrieve a morsel or two but he’s usually here and gone before I can grab my camera.
Waiting His Turn. Male American Goldfinch waits for a feeding station to open so that he can have a meal.
Oops! Male House Finch drops a morsel of food and yes, he did watch it drop and went down after it!
Feed Me? Mourning Dove is perched looking for spilled seed to scavenge. The green coloration is light reflected from lawn grass below.
Mr. Cardinal — Northern Cardinal looks for snacks.
Tailfeathers. I don’t like to admit how often happens.