Posts Tagged With: yay peregrines!

Hey, where’d the shorebirds go?

The flats at Cohoes were deserted today except for a few dozen gulls. And half the reason why was perched in a cottonwood tree.

Undaunted, I scoured the rocks without finding even a Killdeer. As the Peregrine in the tree to my right took off


a second, previously hidden, shot out of the trees to my left and together they strafed the gulls on the rocks and spillway. When the sky was white with gulls, the pair took off towards a flock of pigeons on power lines and I last saw them heading upriver.

Later at Papscannee, I saw three of the Peregrines’ little cousins. This Kestrel was perched on a wildly swaying twiglet much too thin for its weight.


Categories: bird behavior, Bird photos, OMG bird | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Today’s wandering

My chauffeur and I got a late start today, and it was nearly 3:00 when we reached Blockhouse Park in Stillwater in search of a male Barrow’s Goldeneye, an infrequent winter visitor. After scanning the water for nearly an hour in a chill wind that made it feel much colder than 30º, we gave up. Of course I checked my email at home to learn the bird had been half a mile upriver… it never occurred to me that the water would be open above the spillway. Oh well!

On the way home we stopped at the Crescent Hydro plant in search of another of my target birds. The Red-breasted Merganser was much more cooperative!



Love that glowing red eye and spiky hairdo.

As it was getting dusky, the resident young peregrine treated us to a low flyover and landed on a pylon to groom. Its feathers looked damp and disheveled. I wonder if it had taken down some prey on wet ice.





Yeah maybe I’ll try for the Barrow’s again tomorrow, what do you think?


Categories: Bird photos, Field trip | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Peregrine and prey, 1/9/14

(Squick warning — if you don’t like guts — literal guts — view with caution.)

The Thursday group started out at Albany Airport. Whoop de doo, three Snowy Owls. We’re almost (not quite, but almost) blasé about them now. A pair of Harriers and a Rough-legged Hawk hunted, skirmishing briefly with the owls and resident Redtails. Off to the river!

While on our way we got a call that the Redheads were still hanging out by the Crescent power plant, so that was our first stop. Not a great look in the shimmery lights, so I tried to get closer while the rest of the group went above the dam to scan gulls. When I caught up, everyone’s attention was fixed not on the mass of gulls on the ice, but about 50 feet offshore where this immature Peregrine Falcon was plucking his catch of the day — a Ring-billed Gull. Feathers everywhere!


Acckkk! Bllffttt! Pttooi!

Then he got down to business. Neither a crowd of admirers nor a passing Redtail deterred him from lunch.


It’s winter. Food is too important to be distracted.



Feathers stuck to his back, beak and tail.


Oooh, guts.


Finally a Bald Eagle buzzed the gull flocks and that was one disturbance too many.


Leftovers, anyone?

Categories: bird behavior, Bird photos, OMG bird | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Cohoes and up the Mohawk, 2/9 – 2/11

The Thursday trip was a scouting run for the scheduled trip Saturday, so I’ll combine them into one entity, much as Thoreau condensed two years, two months and two days into one year on Walden Pond. (I’m feeling grandiose today.)

Normally this time of year postings like this pop up on the local bird list: “In scanning the 2500+ gulls on the ice, a single second-year Thayer’s Gull was immediately evident*.” Not too many of these this year, mostly because the river ice the gulls frequent just didn’t form. Like the eagles at Cohoes, there’s no need to cluster at the edge of open water if it’s all open. So our gull sightings were limited to the usual three — Herring, Great Black-backed, Ring-billed — and not in any number.

We stopped for a look at a little pond next to 787 to check for ducks and had a surprise — an overwintering Belted Kingfisher. I didn’t expect to hear that rattle for another month at least. Along the Hudson, two Bald Eagles hung out near where a nest collapsed in last year’s storms. Perhaps they’ll rebuild.

The Collar City Bridge on Green Island is home to a Peregrine nest box. We stopped in a tiny public parking lot in a apartment complex to scan the cottonwood trees. On Thursday we had a low flyover by a Sharp-shinned Hawk, and Saturday the resident falcons were perched in clear view. The larger bird, probably the female, was facing us at first and she must have just eaten. Her crop looked like she had swallowed a softball. The male was a few trees over.

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Even the landfill was disappointing, except for at least a dozen Red-tails. The normal crowds of Gulls were all off somewhere else. It’s been a great winter for economizing on heat and plowing, but birdwise, it’s been really… odd.

Belted Kingfisher, Fish Crow, Red-tailed Hawk, Mallard, Common Merganser, Black Duck, Canada Goose, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Tufted Titmouse, Black-capped Chickadee, Bald Eagle, White-breasted Nuthatch, House Sparrow, House Finch, Mourning Dove, Rock Pigeon, American Crow, Dark-eyed Junco, European Starling, Eastern Bluebird, Blue Jay, American Robin, Common Goldeneye, Peregrine Falcon (pair), Eastern Mockingbird, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Cardinal, American Goldfinch, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Hairy Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Carolina Wren.


*Immediately evident, that is, if you have a scope as powerful as the Hubble Space Telescope, limitless patience, and a really keen eye for microscopic differences in plumage. I have never seen, nor do I expect ever to see, a Thayer’s Gull.My eye is insufficiently refined.

Categories: Bird photos, Feeder birds, Field trip, NYS 2012, OMG bird, Species count | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

In which I do not see a Snowy Owl, 2/2/12

Another Thursday, another trip up to Saratoga County.

A hopeful crowd assembled this week hoping the Golden Eagle from last week was still around (disclosure: it wasn’t). And not much else was around, either — just the usual ducks and gulls. We cruised around the grasslands where even the usual raptors were missing. No larks, no buntings…

But from the car window, far across a field, we spotted something that looked unusual. Large, and light, perched in a tree — we stopped and fixed out binocs on it. The car behind us stopped, then the one behind that, scopes were deployed, and we were all ready to swear we could make out the head and tail of a large light bird. It had to be a Snowy Owl!

Then the lead car swung back and we heard a cry, “It’s a stump!” “It’s is not!” I shouted back defiantly, but the seed of doubt had been sown. Was it, maybe, a bit too still? And then came the VLS (Very Large Scope) to remove all doubt.

*sigh* If I’d been alone and just seen it through my binocs, I’d still be swearing it had to be a Snowy. How embarrassing.

Setting aside illusory owls,  the best bird of the day was a Peregrine atop a power pole, pecking at some small bloody thing. On the way home we swung back along the river, finding a mixed flock of Canada and Snow Geese.

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American Crow, Red-tailed Hawk, Rock Pigeon, European Starling, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Canada Goose, House Sparrow, Ring-billed Gull, Blue Jay, Mourning Dove, American Black Duck, Common Merganser, Common Goldeneye, House Finch, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, Mallard, Bald Eagle, Eastern Bluebird, American Goldfinch, Northern Cardinal, Tree Sparrow, Peregrine Falcon, Rough-legged Hawk, Northern Harrier, Pileated Woodpecker, Snow Goose, Hooded Merganser, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Dark-eyed Junco, Downy Woodpecker.

33 species, 1 new for the year.

Categories: Bird photos, Field trip, NYS 2012 | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

There ain’t no justice

One of my non-birdy friends told me she saw a large hawk in the middle of the road in Arbor Hill, holding down a pigeon it had just caught, before it flew away with prey in talon.

She saw a freakin’ PEREGRINE. In Albany’s worst neighborhood. In the middle of the damn STREET.

Clearly I have been birdwatching in the wrong places.

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Wow, actually posting on time tonight!

Rose-breasted grosbeak, Gray catbird, Black-capped chickadee, Hairy woodpecker, American goldfinch, Ruby-throated hummingbird, Phoebe, Blue jay, European starling, House sparrow, Mourning dove, American crow, Rock dove, Canada goose, American robin, Chipping sparrow, Ovenbird, Great blue heron, Mallard, Northern flicker, Cardinal, Killdeer, Barn swallow, Song sparrow, Green heron, Double-crested cormorant, Chimney swift, Peregrine falcon.

28 species, 3 new to this list.

Peregrines are always an OMG bird,even when you know just where to go to see them.  I went down to Rensselaer today while the rain was still a drizzle to check out the nest box. I watched for a while then got distracted by a GB heron fishing nearby. When I looked up again, one of the adults was flying off the nest. I watched him (?) fly to another bridge support, then he took off swooping over the river, eventually perching on the 787 North sign on the ramp. He surveyed the area for a few minutes, then took off into the Albany skyline, terrorizing flocks of pigeons. I should dig out my old spotting scope and set it up, next nice day.

I used to see Chimney swifts around the Lutheran church, but I suspect the openings in the steeple were sealed up when they had the roof repaired. Lots of them around the old buildings in Rens., though.

No gulls along the river. They’re likely all hanging out at the Albany landfill.

Thanks for showing me how to do a link, Billy! What’ll I do when you go to college?

Categories: Feeder birds, Field trip, OMG bird | Tags: | 1 Comment

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