Date: 9/22/18 8:33 pm From: Wayne Hoffman <whoffman...> Subject: [obol] A Ruff life
As Caleb and others posted the continuing Ruff was present at the HMSC nature Trail today (Newport).
I have observed and photographed this bird on Sept. 11, Sept 21 (yesterday) and Sept. 22 (today). [also saw it but no photos Sept. 12]
The bird has always been very active trotting about and bending down to pick up tiny food items, but this evening, while downloading today's photos I noticed signs of an apparent near miss in the previous 24 hours.
Today the bird has single small indents into the skin low on the cheeks, behind the gape.disturbing the feathers. I checked and checked photos from yesterday and Sept 11, confirming that these marks were new.
The photos numbered 1055 (left side) and 1152 (right side) were taken today. 7311 was taken Sept. 11, and 7486 was taken Yesterday. Today's show these indents/ feather disturbances,which were not there yesterday or before.
The most likely explanation I can come up with for these marks is that they are talon marks from a very near miss by a raptor. If anyone has a better explanation please let us know. The species most often seeing hunting shorebirds in this area are Peregrine, Merlin, and Northern Harrier, but a Cooper's hawk would not be totally out of the question.
Ornithologists had assumed for decades that Peregrines hit their prey with closed feet, but recent studies with high-speed video have shown that Peregrines actually hit with spread toes, grab quickly, and immediately release their prey. Evidently this bird was grabbed in a non-critical spot (the mouth!) and not disabled.
We seldom realize how dangerous life is for juvenile birds on their first migrations.