I had a pretty late start today and things seemed slow that I thought perhaps I didn’t need to bother with any field notes for the blog, however, there were a couple of interesting things to talk about. Also, as you can see from the photo above, it's just nice to see the place in a different light some times.
To start with, a couple of birders that I ran into as my walk began flushed up a Wilson’s Snipe, which is always a good bird to see around here. I then showed them where the Great Horned Owls nest was. The female was faithfully sitting on the nest.
Other than that most of the walk was as quite as I have ever seen it here. As I approached the Brandywine I saw a flock of 24 Common Mergansers flying south down stream. As I scanned for more birds on the wing, I noticed a flock of about 50 birds high overhead. Looked and they all appeared to be gulls. As on 18 January, when I observed other large groups of gulls streaming past, these were made up of mostly small gulls and a few larger ones. My assumption is that these are Ring-billed and Herring Gull. Today howerver, they were flying the exact opposite direction as they were a week ago and there seemed be fare fewer Herring Gulls mixed in. They kept streaming past in groups of 20 to 75 birds for the next 20 minutes or so. In all I estimate approximately 1500 gulls passed over with only about 12 or so Herring Gulls.
After it seemed that most of the gulls had flown past, I got into my car and head out of the parking lot. As I pulled up to Creek Road I saw a large raptor flying directly towards me only a few feet above the ground then right as it got the to road, it pulled up and landed on the telephone pole right in front of me! I saw a thing hanging from its feet that looked like the tail of some rodent. At last! A Peregrine Falcon!
Or not. It was without doubt a large falcon, but it was very pale, not anything like the Peregrines around here should look. I thought “is it a Gyr?” But it didn’t look right for that either. The sideburns were to distinct and it had far to slender of a build. Then I thought, perhaps the rodent tail wasn’t a tail after all but jesses instead. I looked. And indeed it was a jess. The photo on the right is poor, but you can make out the jess in it.
I looked at if for another minute or so and then it flew off across the field right to where the falconer was swinging a lure around in large circles on a tether. That was a bit of a relief because it makes my issues with identifying it a little less embarrassing. I think it was some pale race of a Peregrine or a Lanner, or some combination therein. I’ll have to wait a bit longer to get a wild Peregrine (or a Lanner) for my preserve list!
Stat time: 3:15 PM
End time: 5:30
Skies: Mostly clear
Species Total: 29
- Canada Goose – approximately 45
- Mallard – 13 all flyovers
- Common Merganser – 24, all flyovers
- Red-tailed Hawk – 1 immature
- Wilson's Snipe – 1
- Ring-billed Gull – approximately 1500! Bird of the day!
- Herring Gull – approximately 12
- Great Horned Owl – 1, on nest
- Red-bellied Woodpecker – 3
- Downy Woodpecker – 5
- Hairy Woodpecker – 1
- Blue Jay – 2
- American Crow – 1
- Carolina Chickadee – 1
- Tufted Titmouse – 2
- White-breasted Nuthatch – 3
- Carolina Wren – 3
- Winter Wren – 1
- Golden-crowned Kinglet – 2
- Eastern Bluebird – 5
- American Robin – approximately 10
- Northern Mockingbird – 2
- European Starling – approximately 30
- Eastern Towhee – 1, heard only
- Song Sparrow –3
- White-throated Sparrow – approximately 10
- Dark-eyed Junco – approximately 10
- Northern Cardinal – approximately 10
- Red-winged Blackbird – 6