A Peregrine Falcon north of Seattle settles in for the duration on a distant tree, only becoming active at the stirrings of distant shorebirds.
This evening birds rose in a cloud from the surface of Bolinas Lagoon and a Peregrine powered across the water with great purpose. I soon spotted the reason for its determined flight in the shape of a fleeing Marbled Godwit.
The falcon would turn in tighter circles that the Godwit and angle in to cut it off. It often seemed to be flying ahead of its prey.
No escape. Climbing offered no refuge from the relentless pursuit as the falcon easily rose with its target as they banked and swirled for nearly two minutes.
The Peregrine seemed to be closing in I thought the Godwit was doomed but on the next pass over deep water the Godwit landed quickly and floated on the water’s surface. The Peregrine immediately lost interest and flew on toward the distant shore.
While shopping at the Cape May Bird Observatory store a thud at the window got our attention and the stunned bird was none other than a Black-throated Blue Warbler, a dismal way to get a life bird.
This one had a lot of green mixed in. Thankfully, held in hand in the warm sun, it quickly recovered and flew off. Most of the hundreds of birds flitting in the bushes were Yellow-rumped Warblers and I never did take the time to get a good photo of them.
Palm Warbler was also a new bird for me. This one was most cooperative as it bobbed its tail and looked for insects. It moved on when a hawk buzzed us both.
This Flicker was running from, guess what, a Cooper’s Hawk. It can be rough neighborhood depending on your position in the food chain.
A surprise bird was a juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker flushed from the dunes near the beach. For your viewing pleasure… a poor quality but definitive documentation shot. I wouldn’t have been able to ID it without the photo since it was yet another lifer.
Easier to identify but still hard to photograph, a Merlin above the platform eats a dragonfly on the wing.
The Merlin’s big brother, a young Peregrine arrives and everyone takes notice… It had its eye on us too.
This falcon at the University of Minnesota Raptor Center easily snatched this fly out of the air it buzzed past.
A Great Blue Heron on alert at Crissy Field with the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.
This isn’t a paid advertisement… just a striking convergence of flying objects.
A young Redtail finds a convenient perch for gopher hunting.
Another Redtail sees something tasty in the grass and fully commits.
Bumper to bumper traffic. Watching a Redtail cruising along the road at an altitude of three feet always makes me nervous… but they don’t seem to mind.
As we leave the city and close the Urban Birds series… we see a Peregrine perched on the north tower of the Golden Gate Bridge.
I’m getting to know this Peregrine now, but she isn’t quite sure of me. I’ve drifted by her in the canoe before but this time she seemed suspicious and left suddenly rather than comfortably preening. I’ll recalibrate my distance next time and try not to disturb her. I know it’s the same bird because she is missing the tip of her upper mandible (bill).
She keeps a lookout while dinner passes silently behind her. The shorebirds keep a close eye on her too.
I took to the lagoon for a maiden voyage in my solo canoe last Saturday. It was wonderful. Glass calm water and a four foot tide meant I could explore far and wide. And as I suspected… I was being followed. A few seals broke off from the pack and quietly shadowed me for most of the next hour.
An Osprey hurtles into the shallows while beach-goers wander in the distance.
Rising to try its luck again.
I heard a familiar and adrenaline inducing scream and looked up into the sky to find it bird free. When I glanced onshore I saw a vocal young Peregrine Falcon next to a large adult female.
It took off and powered away after a flock of shorebirds near Highway one. I was camped in my canoe fixated on the adult as the current slowly drifted me along.
She seemed comfortable, preening often and calmly looking in the direction of her departed fledgling.
She gave a stretch and took off, flying a wide arc over the marsh before climbing and setting off toward the same flock of shorebirds. It was a wonderful and unexpected encounter on a grey, still, and lovely day. I can’t wait to get out there again.