Date: 3/13/18 10:18 pm
From: Jim Green <jkgbirdman53...>
Subject: [MDBirding] 2nd of 3 MBC/ANS bird trips (Montgomery Co)

This evening I lead another evening bird trip (joint Montgomery Bird Club/Audubon Naturalist Society) trip.

The evening started slowly with waterfowl on the Potomac River viewed from Reilly’s Lock almost nonexistent. Highlights were a Bonaparte Gull hightailing downriver with a few Ring-billed Gulls never to be seen again, a Horned and several Pied-billed Grebes and a distant Bald Eagle.

Moving on to Hughes Hollow we saw American Wigeon, Gadwall, Ring-necked Ducks and American Coots. Consensus was that the highlight at HH was hearing the unique hollow barking “gwop gwop gwop” calls of the Pied-billed Grebe.

Last stop was Sycamore Landing fields for American Woodcock (AMWO) display. Despite the cold weather and some other obstacles that I will mention these birds did not disappoint. However everybody on the trip (11 of us) came away at the end of the trip with the AMWOs receiving a bronze medal (possibly silver at best).

We had a caravan of 6 cars following me slowly down the road. While adjacent to the AMWO field I spotted a raptor perched on a snag ahead of me. Immediately I assumed it was a red-tailed or red-shouldered hawk. After getting my binocs on the bird I jumped out of the car and let people know it was a Peregrine Falcon. Before all could get on it it flew off and landed on another snag. It sat there for 5 minutes or more and everybody had nice scope views and many photos were taken.

On these trips. I always pull halfway down the road and into the parking circle and turn around so that cars are facing River Road. As we were approaching the location where I park the driver of the last car (Maury?) mentioned that she saw a perched Barred Owl in a sapling on the near edge of the field close to where we would park the cars.

Once everybody was out of the cars we quickly found the Barred Owl and then the spectacle began. As we were ready to walk out into the AMWO field we suddenly heard a loud REPETETIVE harsh single syllable scolding call. Before we knew what happened the Peregrine Falcon had not only returned but flew across the field swooping down about 5 feet from the Barred Owl and up into the nearby tree where I originally found the bird. It continued squawking continuous for another minute or so and then flew off again to a distant perch. We then walked out into the field. Twice before it was AMWO time we saw the Barred Owl fly a short distance and each time the Peregrine came flying across the field and made a half-hearted swoop at the owl. It was only the second time in my birding experiences that I’ve heard vocalization from these falcons but never close up and sustained like this.

At this time the AMWO display seemed like an aftermath and with the falcon patrolling the area like it was we didn’t know what to expect. Their display continued like usual business. Estimated 4 different birds and once again a nearby woodcock provided us with multiple displays and a brief look on the ground. First “peent” was heard at 7:35 and the last at 7:52.

The Peregrine Falcon was either a female or 1st year bird. Nothing better than having a fun mix of birders on a field trip coupled with unique birding memories. Final trip is this Thursday meeting at 4:30pm in the bridge at Reilly’s Lock.

Jim Green
Gaithersburg MD

Sent from my iPhone

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