Monday, November 9, 2009

Swainson's + Goshawk + Rails

[Watch this.]

[Big picture view of the "winery field" at the west side of the Beanery around 10:00 a.m. this morning. That's the Swainson's Hawk in the Sweet Gum tree at left, and if you squint you might find our seawatcher, Nick Metheny, sitting at the right side of field, out birding on his day off. Nick called us about the Swainson's, which has been hunting this field for a couple days. A number of people came to see the bird, and everyone was, happily, very respectful and kept their distance, letting the bird do its thing. Click to enlarge all photos.]

[The Swainson's flew down into the field - it's been catching big grasshoppers - and then. . .]

[The Swainson's gives Nick "the eye" as it passes.]

[Thanks, for the call, Nick! The Swainson's was seen from the hawk watch, but far, later in the morning.]

Other birds at the Beanery this morning included Winter Wren, Hairy Woodpecker, Eastern Meadowlarks, Eastern Bluebirds , and Virginia Rail giving a weird, chattery call.

We also heard Virginia Rail at the Meadows during the next-to-last Monday walk of fall there, and even found the remains of one (see below), but the clear star was the Northern Goshawk sighted by David Lord as it perched at length in the treeline over at the boundary with the State park - looking west from the west path.

Hawks were flying this morning despite the light south wind, including many buteos, and at one point the hawk watch had 6 Northern Harriers in a kettle at the same time, with Turkey Vultures and others.

[Northern Goshawk, digiscoped at long distance by Karl Lukens. Big, prominent eyebrow, and more light spotting above than the other accipiters.]

The abundance and selection of ducks in Cape May right now is truly awesome, and I hear a King Eider was added today at the pilings near Poverty Beach by Chris Hajduk. All the ponds hold dabblers, including showy things like Hooded Mergansers. Tundra Swans have been seen migrating over in each of the last two days.

[This Red-tailed Hawk, photographed this morning in the pre-dawn fog along Bayshore Road, provided an interesting behavioral note. I "put it to bed" on the exact same perch last night while looking for the Swainson's in the fading light, and it obviously spent the entire night there, fairly exposed.]

[Proof of Virginia Rails in the meadows, or at least former occurrence. All the rails have long slender toes and a long hind toe. Virginia has pinkish-red legs. Not sure what got this one, one of the bigger accipiters seems a reasonable guess.]

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