Thursday, September 24, 2009

What is Steam the Red-tailed Hawk Doing?

This used to be a woods with wild flowers, oak, apple, hickory, walnut trees, just to name a few, Dogwoods with white berries and the stunning leaves of scarlet in the Fall of Staghorn Sumac--now it is a mud slide waiting to happen.

It is supposed to be a demonstration area for old construction equipment at the Thresheree. But it was created by said machines by people without the least concern not only for wildlife but also without the least concern for the land and what happens when you strip it of the vegetation that holds it in place. I was steaming. In fact when I got to my doctor's appointment an hour later, my blood pressure was through the roof.

So there I was sliding around in boots covered with mud to the knee, turned around and started stomping the other way down the hill, (if one can stomp while sliding), to get back to my car...

Wait a minute! Is that a Red-tail in the top of that dead tree?

Cropped down, yes, that's definitely a Red-tail. And I'm betting it's Steam the male of the pair who owns this territory.

Suddenly Steam seemed to look at me, he is really far away, but it certainly looked like he did. Then he screamed the Red-tail's battle cry Kheee, keee and took to his wings.
What did I do? Geez.
In fact what was he doing in the top of that tree. An extremely exposed position. Rural hawks just don't do that around people.

Okay, where did he go?
Ah ha! He's heading north in a hurry.
And just like urban Red-tails in Central Park whenever possible when going in a straight course, he's taken to the tree line to get to where ever it is he's going.
He soars towards the other side of the trees, opposite me.

Then begins a steep inclined flight. Is he just skimming the tops of the trees or does he have something else in mind? He then disappears behind the trees.

He reappears heading this way.

Then regains the linear flight along the tree tops.

Steam starts power flapping with focus.

He is definitely powering up.

He makes a course correction and continues folding his wings to his sides for a swoop--and I lose him in the sun. Drat, drat DRAT!
But I keep clicking away just in case the camera might catch what I am missing.
And it did catch something! Though I'm not altogether sure exactly what.
This is a crop of a larger photograph and to make matters worse this isn't the area on which the camera was focusing, but beggars can't be choosers so---
I think that is steam just going into the leaf less tree up center. Now he could have been hunting and has just nabbed some prey but as he screamed we're not talking hunting were talking offense. Likely an unrelated raptor, possibly a juvenile who is kind of clueless, that he has "convinced" to vacate the spot he is now in by flying at her.
If you look to the right of the photo and then down, there are a couple of blotches that might just be a bird getting out of Dodge.
That's my hunch anyway. What do you see?
Donegal Browne

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