Friday, October 1, 2010

Holiday Beach Raptors

 I stopped by Holiday Beach after work today, for just a short visit of about 1.5 hours. I did a quick walk by the forested area along the beach but I did not see many birds. Just a few BC Chickadees.  I then went to the hawk viewing tower and joined Jim (the official counter at & Sarah from PPNP.  Great people! I've said this before, but Jim's ability to see raptors is incredible. The birding conversation was excellent as well!

The most dramatic movement tonight was Turkey Vultures. Its been said that they are ugly to look at but beautiful on the wing. Kettles of them flew by... sometimes 10-30 of them at a time, gliding effortlessly at various heights (Due south). Blue Jays were migrating in numbers as well.

I really saw a great variety of raptors tonight... some included:
Peregrine Falcon (in pursuit of a Blue Jay)
American Kestrel
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Red tailed Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Sharp shinned Hawk

Some non-raptor species I saw tonight were:
Palm Warbler
Dark Eyed Junco (first for the fall)
White Crowned Sparrow
White Throated Sparrow
Black capped Chickadee
Blue Jays
Great Egret
Great Blue Heron
Various Ducks

 I also saw my first Northern Harrier for the year. I saw my first one last year at St Clair NWA. Its a pretty striking bird with dramatic white-black underwings and an Owl-like face.

As I was about to leave Jim & Sarah noted the Peregrine Falcon which circled the tower then started to chase a Blue Jay. Eventually, the Peregrine knocked it down into the water, and finally killed it for dinner. I have several photos of this chase, but they were blurry. The Falcon had a major chunk of feathers missing from one of its wings. It also had a blue-ish beak... which hints that it could be a young, first year falcon. A local photographer has an incredible photo of a Peregrine hunting a Blue Jay... I can't help but link to it here.

On the way out of the park I noticed an Eastern Fox Snake on the road, but it was dead. It seems it was run over by a car, it wasn't flattened though. I was sad about that, but I'm sure that all the raptors flying around will make use of it.

Good birding,

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