Posted by: jkennedy366 | 24 September 2013

September 22, Sun, Hawks and Owls

The north wind promised lots of good hawks after the rain on Saturday but I was a little late getting to the tower. While wandering around the newly mowed grassland off Texaco road, what appeared to be a hawk swooped into a fence post right next to the car, maybe 10 yards away startling both of us. It went off into the grass but after I turned around and was heading to the tower it came toward the car again and perched on a fence post just out front

Great Horned Owl Posing

The Owl hunted by listening

Great Horned Owl Listening

The Owl would then drop into the grass and walk or more accurately waddle around until it found food. It ate a couple of small things until finally getting a nice rat which he took off toward town and letting me go down the road.

great horned owl in the grass

There were only a couple of oystercatchers out at Robbins Park and later in the day one came by the tower screaming with a peregrine after it. On Saturday, in the wet a white phase reddish egret sported a nice blue band.

reddish egret with bling

Large waterbirds were going by the tower with a flock of wood storks making several passes. On the last flyby, they were only a little above tower level.

Wood stork passing by

One wonders if the flock gets tired of going past the same spot and if so do they vote and choose a new leader.

Which wood stork is the leader

A few Mississippi kites were going by the tower when I arrived and are likely the birds seen when we left on Saturday. The numbers increased during the morning and then someone cut off the spigot and only singles were around for the rest of the day.

A swallow-tailed kite showed up with a good mix of other kites and broad-wings and stayed right over the tower for the late arrivals to the watch.

Swallow-tailed kite posing for all

The early hawks for the day were the Mississippi kites. First the small group that spent the night at the point, then a group of about 120 birds that went by several times gaining recruits until there were about 180 birds there. All the kites seemed to be young of the year birds.

Young mississippi kite

The kites in such flocks are more drifts of birds rather than kettles but single or small numbers of kites join in the broad-wing kettles and sheets.

Wisp of Mississippi kites

Part of a kite flock

Broad-winged hawks started the day with a lift off and then some nice groups but after lunch, it was singles.

broad-winged hawk

There is a lot of color variation in the young broad-wings which keeps things a little interesting.

Broad-wing variations

The small landbirds were generally scarce and the olive-sided flycatcher was on his east motte post only later in the day when the treetops were used by merlins who caught someone nearby. Great crested flycatchers were out front. A least flycatcher was off to the east and later a cooper’s hawk really dove at a bird at that spot. Soon after, a least flycatcher was right in front of the tower followed by another empid greener both back and front.

Again, not many birds feeding out on the pay but a great morning and still nice birds after the bird spigot was turned off. Some day we may figure out the reason for such stops when there is not a big change in the wind or rain off to the north and east.

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