Dow's Bird Photos

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Although I haven't posted any new photos for 17 months, and haven't actually taken any for the past six months, I haven't entirely given up on photobirding. I have been wondering, though, just how many bird pictures I need, and whether it is time to take up a new hobby.

But when Denny called at 5:15 this evening to say there was a Gyrfalcon at the Dungeness Recreation Area, a bird I had never seen, I grabbed the camera and left Marlene chopping onions for dinner while I dashed off to see this rare bird for Clallam County.


Gyrfalcon

Female Northern Harrier defending territory from Gyrfalcon, Sequim, WA, 4/5/2017


You can read the whole story in the sidebar at the right, but here are my two favorite images from ten minutes of very exciting action.


Gyrfalcon

Female Northern Harrier defending territory from Gyrfalcon, Sequim, WA, 4/5/2017


Bird of the Day


April 5, 2017

Gyrfalcon

I was on the land line talking with Ken W. about tomorrow's Birdfest field trip when, at 5:15, Denny called me on my cell phone to say there was a Gyrfalcon at the Dungeness Rec Area. I held the cell phone up to the land line so Ken could hear Denny too. I told Ken I had to dash off to see it and he told me the same thing. Neither of us had ever seen a Gyrfalcon, and it was only a few minutes away for each of us.

When Denny called the falcon was on the ground plucking feathers from a Mallard it had just caught, about fifty feet from where he, Michael, Gary, and Bruce were standing. Before Ken and I got there, though, crows had chased the falcon away and it landed in a tree several hundred yards away, surrounded by the crows.


Gyrfalcon and Crows

Gyrfalcon being mobbed by American Crows; 4/5/2017.


Dang! Too far away and not enough light for a good photo! Just my luck. Gary had the falcon in his scope, and Ken and I got good looks for a couple minutes. To get any closer I would have to walk up a private road, which I wouldn't do without permission. I was only disappointed for a moment. The crows left the falcon and flew back to investigate the dead Mallard. This annoyed the falcon and it came zooming back, flushing the crows, and then soaring past us to land in a tall evergreen a couple hundred yards east of us.


Gyrfalcon and Crows

Gyrfalcon; 4/5/2017.


This falcon is clearly not a welcome visitor to the area. After getting out of the way of the crows, it only sat in the tree for a moment before a pair of Northern Harriers dived on it. The falcon headed back towards us, and dipped down like it was going to land on the mallard again.


Gyrfalcon

Gyrfalcon; 4/5/2017.


But the female Harrier got real aggressive and the falcon had to defend itself.


Gyrfalcon and Crows

Gyrfalcon and Northern Harrier; 4/5/2017.


The Harrier persisted in attacking the falcon for a full minute, making multiple passes on it. The Harrier even pooped at the falcon in this image.


Gyrfalcon and Northern Harrier

Gyrfalcon and Northern Harrier; 4/5/2017.


Gyrfalcon and Northern Harrier

Gyrfalcon and Northern Harrier; 4/5/2017.


Gyrfalcon and Northern Harrier

Gyrfalcon and Northern Harrier; 4/5/2017.


Gyrfalcon and Northern Harrier

Gyrfalcon and Northern Harrier; 4/5/2017.


Gyrfalcon and Northern Harrier

Gyrfalcon and Northern Harrier; 4/5/2017.


Suddenly the action was over, with the Harriers flying off one direction and the falcon flying back to the perch where I first saw it.


Gyrfalcon

Gyrfalcon; 4/5/2017.



Gyrfalcon

Gyrfalcon; 4/5/2017.

Then the reason for the hasty departure became evident. An adult Bald Eagle had seen all the activity and came in low to investigate. The eagle saw the mallard and swooped down, grabbing it off the ground and heading back the way it came.


A Bald Eagle steals the Gyrfalcon's Mallard

A Bald Eagle steals the Gyrfalcon's Mallard; 4/5/2017.


This was one of the most exciting couple of minutes of bird photography that I've had. It really got my juices going, so maybe I will start carrying my camera again. It is interesting that Michael B. is responsible for me seeing both this Gyrfalcon, and the Rough-legged Hawk that has been posted on this page for the past 17 months. Thanks, Michael! Keep on spotting these rare birds for me.