Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Bald Eagle Nest Check and a First For the Season!

I saw a quick check by the sitting eagle, then she ducked down out of sight and didn't pop up again while I was in this position.  There is a blizzard forecast for just south of this area so there may be weather action here as well.  Plus, though the the actual temperature is 33 F.,  the real feel  is nearer 20 due to a gusting wind.
Upon scrutiny....if you look at the top left edge of the nest that may be the sitter's head obscured through the middle by a branch but an eye observing just over the top of the branch.
See the speck center in the sky?  That's an eagle.  Possibly Eagle  Dad but possibly someone else as the eagle overshot the nest and headed in the direction of the conservation area.  I decide to head for the conservation area as well.
When  I get to the conservation area pickings appear pretty slim as well.  A pair of Canada Goose.
That is until I looked over near the treeline. 
BINGO!  My first pair of Sandhill Cranes for the season! 
They see me and perk up...

Then go back to their business.  Either they know they are on restricted land or perhaps they also know that I'm on the other side of a fence and I can't fly therefore they have plenty of time to take off if necessary.

The male does periodically lift his head and give me the eye.

Then I hear loud rattle calls coming from behind me.  
And I mean LOUD!  They can be heard while still 2 to 2 1/2miles away.

If you have never  heard Sandhill Cranes click the link below.

There is continuous calling as they pass over the foraging Sandhill Cranes and over the trees which flank the Mill Race. 
The Race is a man made channel dug back in the day to divert water from the Sugar River into the town of Brodhead, WI in order to run a mill.

The flying cranes reach the trees, make a hard left and disappear into the distance amongst the trees.
Then a third Sandhill Crane appears on the trajectory of the two  who just flew through and disappears from sight as well.  Possibly a colt from last season following the pair?
4:46:20 A flock of geese fly over. 

4:46:37  Seventeen seconds later a Bald Eagle appears in hot pursuit.

4:47:13  She's an immature.  Remember it takes a Bald Eagle three years to mature into their white head and tail.  She heads in the direction the geese took.
 4:47:20 But then appears to be going into the trees the Eagles tend to hunt from.
When I spotted the young Eagle flying in, I also saw a pair of raptors circling in the distance which I took to be Red-tailed Hawks.  Conceivably that was because I expect to see Red-tail pairs circling in courtship flights at this time of year.   In truth I don't have a drop dead ID on them.
In the meantime...
In the meantime the young Eagle has turned round and given me "the look".  Also note the wind blowing her feathers.  It is downright cold out here at least for me as the sun disappears.
Young Eagle starts working on her feathers.  I start working my way back to the car.

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Today's Find.... An American Kestrel, an Annoyed Red-tailed Hawk, and the Teneke Eagles

American Kestrel   Falco sparverius   
 Kestrels very often sit on wires to hunt.   This female is scanning  marshy fields.  It's too early for crunchy grass hoppers or many other insects so she'll be possibly looking for voles or mice.

See the two black patches on the back of her neck.  Those are thought to be "false eyes" which may help ward off predators while her back is turned.

She gives me a look then goes back to scanning the fields for prey.
Eventually she heads into the field and I hope to see her kite but instead she lands in a small tree.

Kestrels are the only  North American Falcon who regularly hunts by hovering  (wing flapping) or kiting with spread wings in wind.

Remember last breeding season in NYC, Octavia, Pale Male's mate, would kite above the Fifth Avenue nest to summon her fledgling's eyes before she demonstrated her life lesson of the moment.

I find a new angle on the Eagle's nest. 
 Forgive the dreadful photograph, but when I cropped the one above down...glory be!  You can see into the nest.  Which appears to have the female sitting with Dad on the right.
Then I spot a Red-tailed Hawk who just might belong to the Seventh Fence Post Nest.  She's too far away to see much in the way of identifying marks.
Here's the Seventh Fence Post Nest. 

It looks about the same as when I was here last and no obvious occupant.   I drive a little farther, stop again, and get out.
A Red-tail flies over my head.

Adjusts her flight to the left.
Lands in the crown of an oak tree.
She gives me "the look".  

Yes, this is the female. 
 Not only will she be bigger if you see the pair together but females just look hawier than the males do. 

 Hard to explain but when you've seen lots of hawks you start to get the feel of it.

Think about Pale Male's face.  I know this sounds weird but he looks more big eyed and cuddly.  That's the difference.  

Females never look cuddly.

Speaking of which she keeps giving me "the look".

I decide to leave and find another spot to view the Eagle's nest.

  See the white head center nest?  Mom?   Where did Dad go?  


It is ever so much easier in Central Park as there is no private land so you can get much closer...and the birds don't care.  Also during raptor nesting season unless there is inclement weather there are a whole lot more eyes watching what these guys are up to.

It gives you a fighting chance.
Speaking of which,  I don't know if this is Mom or Dad Eagle but whoever it is, is staring at me fixedly.

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne

Monday, February 22, 2016

Raptor Tracking -Bald Eagles and Red-tailed Hawks

 Enough with winter, I headed over to the conservation area just outside Brodhead, WI.

 See the  juvenile Eagle?  Midway up the tree on the left. That's the use of juvenile as in fledged last season.  See her center?
What I didn't notice right away was the mature one in the same tree.
 See her center?

How about now?  She's peering at me from her blind.

 This is part of the scene the two Eagles appear to be watching.

 Evidentally the prey isn't cooperating because they keep sitting and watching.  Plus the mature Eagle keeps looking down at the young Eagle.  I begin to wonder if White Head thinks the youngster isn't helping matters as she is so obvious.  If you are fishing it doesn't matter so much but hunting birds  is a different thing altogether.  Or perhaps there is prey beneath them but then one would thing at the younger bird would be watching that as well.

They sit, they watch, I move on.
 There are Canada Goose everywhere.  There are on the move and every body of water, soggy fields, and mushy depressions are full of them.
The Teneyke EagleNest.
Both of the Bald Eagle pair are at home.  Mom on the right and Dad on the left.  

 I wait.

Then I wait some more.
It doesn't appear that they are going to do anything as long as I'm watching them.  

It's a stand off. 

 I decide to head around the corner to the alternative view.
But by the time I get round the corner to the alternative view, only Mom is up there.

Then I wait some more.  They really aren't going to do anything today if I'm watching. 


Therefore I begin to take pictures in which the nest is not my focal point.
The edge of the field.
The far end of the field.

 The road.  I turn the camera back to the nest.  Next up... the nest.
Ta da!  Yup. You guessed it.  Dad is back. 

Sigh.  There is a reason for the expression "eagle eye".

They see so well they just wait for my eye to be elsewhere. 

FINE.  Time to check out the Seventh Post Red-tail Nest. 

 See it?
 It still appears that no one is home as yet.  I head back to the conservation area.
 Super!  She hasn't flown away yet.
 She is perched in a tree much closer to to the foraging waterfowl.




 Decorah Eagle Cam