Date: 1/10/20 8:50 pm
From: Josh <opihi...>
Subject: [MASSBIRD] Valley raptor random encounters
Hi MassBirders,

I had a nice run of random raptor encounters on Thursday:

1. I was IDing a couple of Song Sparrows along Meadow Road in Montague when a previously unseen flock of Cedar Waxwings burst into the air, calling. Then I noticed why they'd burst into flight: a Merlin was after them!

2. I pulled over a little ways down the road to type eBird some details about the Merlin, when I heard a Bald Eagle calling. Looked up to see two adults soaring together, one dipping over the other a few times; I'm guessing that the one was trying to interest the other in a little courtship...

3. After some chores at home, was taking the dog to Hadley for a walk on the Fort River Trail. While driving I saw my FOY Northern Harrier coursing over the big hill along Moody Bridge Road east of Maple St.

4. As we were driving home post-walk (during which the only raptor was a heard-only Red-tail), a Peregrine Falcon swooped up and landed atop a telephone pole beside Bay Road, carrying prey! Prey turned out to be a Mourning Dove.

5. Got home, pulled into the driveway, got out of the car... and an adult Cooper's Hawk was perched right above our driveway, maybe 30 feet from where I was standing! And even stayed put while I pulled out the camera and took some photos, in which the hawk was so close that - with my 500mm telephoto lens on - I couldn't get both its head and tail in the view at the same time!

6. Dropped by the Hampshire Athletic Club at 4:30 for a workout, and as I walked across the parking lot, faintly heard a Great Horned Owl hooting in the distance.

And if I go back to Wednesday morning, I can add

7. Ended my Barred Owl "drought" 8 days into 2020, with one perched in the woods just outside the fence of the Turners Falls Airport, in plain sight on a big subcanopy limb, being scolded by a few Blue Jays.

Good birding!


Joshua S. Rose, Ph.D.
Amherst, MA

Vice-president, Hampshire Bird Club

Northeast Chapter head, Dragonfly Society of the Americas

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