Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Raptor Rhapsody

I really thought I was going to Galveston to shoot some of the warblers (small, sweet, cute and cuddly song birds) that are migrating through this part of Texas right now.  I was just a little off.  Mind you I did get a couple pictures, but they were not the highlight of my day.  This day was all about the raptors (meat eating bird with long talons that feed off of other small animals).

First up, and my personal favorite and a new one for my Life List, the Merlin.

Part of the falcon family it is a very small bird about the size of a pigeon.  Kudos to my friend Robbin for spotting it through the window of my truck or I would have driven right passed her.  Yes, based on coloring, I believe it is a she.

Next up is the American Kestrel.  This girl is even smaller than the Merlin and only the size of a Robin.  Another female, but I saw the male as well.  Very camera shy and flew off when she realized we were bird paparazzi.  Seeing these two completed my wish list for the day, but our day held so much more.

This Cooper's Hawk was our first raptor of the day and an unexpected surprise.  Robbin, my partner for the day, and I decided to stop at El Franco Park on a whim to see the Least Grebes and this guy flew in to terrorize all the ducks, herons, egrets, and grebes in the park.  Males and females look alike so I can't tell what this one is, but size wise they are the size of a crow.

Driving down a back road we got a tip from a sweet couple in a car passing us the drive that there was a White-tailed Kite on the line.  Sure enough, but a little out of my lens's range to get a clear shot.

I saw 3 Broad-winged Hawks circling high above us on the island, but we spooked this juvenile out from his perch in some low vegetation.  After watching which direction he headed, we were able to find him perched in a dead tree and open for a clear photo.  His size is about the same as the Cooper's and a few inches larger than the Kite's.

But the prize for most numerous raptor must go to the Osprey.  We saw 5 of them on this day.  These guys are much larger than the other predators we saw at 23 inches long and much stockier.

This male gave us a long look and happily the opportunity for a close up of his intense eye.

You would think that this would have been enough, that I was satisfied, satiated, and replete.  Not really.  Robbin and I have already planned our next outing with a focus on raptors.