No better way to spend an afternoon than meandering through Point Reyes National Seashore. I felt a sense of urgency on this day as the light was already golden when I left the house. This Red-shouldered Hawk still managed to stop me in my tracks well before I’d even arrived at Point Reyes.
A stooping male Kestrel sent these Starlings skyward before it settled onto that pole on the right. They swirled around him a few times before returning to their comunal roost. A nice way to start the evening.
The Park Service has cut down a lot of trees at Crissy Field that were once frequented by hunting hawks. Thankfully the few that remain have still got some hawk attracting properties. The other evening I saw a Red-tailed Hawk bank in the setting sunlight and land to survey the gopher strewn grass below. Above, it leaps into action when it spots something moving in distant taller grasses.
As a photographer I’m happy and amazed at how comfortable some birds get in an urban setting. In the countryside it is a simple matter to relocate but the city offers limited green space and the birds learn to figure out what the real threats are.
It isn’t just raptors that reside in the city. Great Blue Herons are another “bird of prey” that make a living here too. (CLICK HERE) More tomorrow…
This 14 year old Red-tailed Hawk floats back up to a hunting perch amidst thick coastal fog.
At Sutro Heights, a 13 year old male Redtail finds yet another meal.
Firmly grasping a gopher, this young Red-tailed Hawk departs with its prize. (click the image to see this one bigger)
A Red-tailed Hawk delivers food to its nest in San Francisco.
Dinner for a large Redtail in Alta Plaza Park in San Francisco.
Dinner and a salad. A Red-tailed Hawk with a pocket gopher at Sutro Baths.
A female Red-tailed Hawk soars off with an early evening meal at Sutro Baths in San Francisco. This is the first in a daily series of predation related photos interspersed with other blog posts.
One of my favorite places to go when I need a raptor fix is along Great Highway near Ocean Beach. This is as reliable a spot as you’ll find in San Francsico for finding a perched bird of prey. If you are patient, or lucky enough to find one actively hunting, you might get a chance to see how it makes a living.
Posture means a lot when it comes to determining raptorial intent. If you see a bird preening, sitting straight up, one leg folded into its feathers, there is a good chance you will be waiting awhile. This Redtail was alert, head up, leaning forward, looking around frequently, and moving its feet. These were all very good signs it was on the hunt.
A Raven mobs an adult Red-tailed Hawk near Ocean Beach. This Redtail seemed to have plenty of experience with aggressive Ravens and it shrugged off the challenges with aplomb. Considering the size and intelligence of Ravens, standing up to them is no small feat.
A friend and I went to Stow Lake to see if we could get a glimpse of the normally cooperative owls on Strawberry Hill. The fledglings have grown old enough to disperse and the parents were making themselves scarce so we struck out on Golden Gate Park owls. But much of bird watching is about what you see when you are waiting around for other things to happen, and last night was no exception. We had been tracking a female Redtail who was sitting near what we think is an active nest. The male arrived with a recently caught squirrel and she set off in pursuit to relieve him of his meal. He managed to escape long enough to perch and spend about 10 minutes dining on a nicely exposed branch. Once the female made up her mind, she stopped making her persistent yet quiet begging calls, and launched off her perch, diving toward the male with great intent. He fell over backwards trying to escape his larger and stronger partner and she took over what was left of the squirrel. Above, she relocates with her prize. The squirrel may be hard to recognize because it has been, err… rearranged.