Date: 1/10/19 3:11 pm
From: Rick Bowes <rbowes...>
Subject: [MASSBIRD] 1/10 Duxbury Beach - Redpolls and Peregrine aerobatics
Thurs 1/10/2019: 10:45-12:40 pm; HiTide 12:39p(10.5ft); Cloudy with
occasional snowflake; 36 F; wind: 12-18 WNW; many whitecaps on ocean and

Passerines unusually scarce - perhaps because the number of active hawks.
Though not specifically looking for them I usually encounter song Sparrows,
Mourning doves, Mockingbirds, Juncos, et al; but today... none!. A single
Cardinal and a singleton Golden-crowned Kinglet were about it... except
for the Redpolls!

My first Redpoll flock of the season (15) were darting along roadside in a
mile stretch that included the 3rd xover. They were very active, and I was
lucky to get this documentation shot of the whole bunch before they headed
over to the ocean side of the dune. (photo at

I was also treated to a demonstration of Peregrine prowess. A slaty adult
blew by my creeping car from the rear at a high speed and about 200yds ahead
of me flushed a flock of 30+/- Starlings over the Saquish marsh. Once in the
air the peregrine harassed them in an aerobatic dance - swooping and
darting, elevating and dropping, until one got separated and flew up and
away from the flock. The Peregrine pivoted almost instantly, veered off a
bit to gather speed and then like a rocket zeroed in on it from below and,
at the last minute, shot upward and, essentially upside down, shot its legs
upward grabbing the bird and very smoothly rotated back up to a right-side
up position and, still at a good speed, headed over the Saquish dune with
its meal. It was the kind of strategic attack I've seen in films but never
in person - and it all happened so FAST!!!
Awesome creatures these peregrines! I see them fairly often out there and
start to take them a bit for granted forgetting what they are capable of
when running on the serious level of adrenaline that this one appeared to be
pumping. I've got to watch that amazing NOVA video again

Rick Bowes, Duxbury, MA

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