Date: 11/17/18 6:56 pm
From: Steve Patterson (via carolinabirds Mailing List) <carolinabirds...>
Subject: Re: Interesting falcon, Anderson County, SC
Hello, Harry.
The issue of origin had occurred to me, as well, whatever the bird is.  Thanks for sharing your experiences and the historical notes.  

Steve

Steve PattersonAnderson, SC

-----Original Message-----
From: Harry LeGrand <hlegrandjr...>
To: Steve Patterson <scbirder...>
Cc: carolinabirds listserve <carolinabirds...>
Sent: Sat, Nov 17, 2018 6:38 pm
Subject: Re: Interesting falcon, Anderson County, SC

Congratulations! You have what I would say is the THIRD report (at least) of Prairie Falcon for SC -- all from the Clemson area and all in November.  Coincidence??
I had thorough sighting at extensive farmlands near Pendleton on 26 November 1977; and a second near Clemson on 19 November 1978.  Both were published, but the SC BRC put them on the Provisional II list as likely escapes.  Neither bird appeared to have been escapes, however.  Mid- to late November, in an extensive open area, would seem to be the right place and time for a stray. One or possibly both birds had apparently been on the ground in fields and flushed when I got near.  I did not see either on the ground, but in the air I could easily see the black axillars and wing bar below.  These two records of mine did get into the Post and Gauthreaux book on Status and Distribution of South Carolina Birds (1989) -- again as Provisional II.
NC has one sight record, and it is on the Unaccepted Origin List, essentially the same as SC's status.
So -- even if your bird were proven to be a Prairie Falcon -- tough luck.  You may have picked the wrong species to see in the Carolinas.😢 
Harry LeGrandRaleigh

On Sat, Nov 17, 2018 at 5:21 PM Steve Patterson <carolinabirds...> wrote:

Just a heads-up to folks birding in the greater Townville area.  Andy Norris and I were birding a stop at the eBird hotspot known as SC 243 Beaverdam Bridge, and an interesting falcon made a brief pass.  
The bird was seen overhead heading generally ENE.  It was in a slight bent-wing glide, not a serious stoop.  At first the apparent size made me think Peregrine, but I could not see the expected thick black sideburns or helmet.  Angle of view perhaps could have obscured the helmet, but I think I should have seen some of the sideburns.  Size and proportion-- again apparent -- were too large for Merlin.  
Morphologically, the wings were broad (front to back) and distinctly tapered and pointed at the ends.  The body was thick and barrel-shaped as expected for a falcon.  The tail was straight and plank shaped.  

Regarding coloration, the underside of the bird (which was our only view) was very light brown or cream with darker brown fine markings.  Additionally, each wing had a dark brown smudge between the body and the wrist.  The bent wing situation prevented us from seeing what was going on with the  actual axillaries, themselves.  
Habitat at the site is mixed woods at the edge of an impounded creek, with lots of farmland all around the area.  It was flying perhaps 100 feet above the water when sighted.
Although the view was well lit and clear, the observation lasted only 10 to 15 seconds.  In my experience, these particular details could point to a Prairie Falcon, but with such a miserably short view in such an unexpected region, we have reported it as falcon sp.  I'd be glad to hear other thoughts if there is something else I should consider.  In the meantime, keep your eyes open for something like this if you're in the area.  




Steve PattersonAnderson, SC


 
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