Date: 11/14/20 6:44 pm From: Brandon Wagner <bmwboarder...> Subject: [obol] Falcons and Polk yard birds
Hi birding friends, Yesterday I had a fun experience birding around my farm in Polk county. For the two days before that I had briefly seen large falcons fly over, which I suspected were Prairie Falcons. So I got my scope out and spent some time outside yesterday afternoon. One thing I immediately found interesting is how far I could see with my spotting scope. The air was crystal clear after all the rain, and the cold wet soils in the neighboring fields were not putting out any heat waves. I could see birds so much further away than I had been able to just a month ago, and I could also ID birds clearly that were quite a ways further out. The field to my north was planted late and is still just bare soil, so I studied the killdeer, hoping to spot some peeps I thought I saw fly in. And then I looked at the distant trees and spotted a large white glare at the top of a fir tree. I got the scope on it, and it was a Prairie Falcon!!! It stayed for a few minutes, and I enjoyed beautiful views of it facing me and looking around. When it took off I watched and was able to see its dark arm pits too. I am reasonably sure I saw this bird three days in a row. And this is at least the 4th time I have positively seen a Prairie Falcon in Polk county in the last month or so. After the falcon disappeared from view, I watched the bare field again, and spotted a Dunlin among the killdeer. Two new yard birds for the year! Just as I was about to put the scope away, another falcon flew by. This one seemed darker, probably a peregrine, though it was carrying a meal and disappeared over the trees pretty quick.
It sure seems like a good winter for falcons and raptors! I think there may be at least 2 Prairie Falcons in Polk county and maybe more since they are being spotted so regularly. Now if I can just get that Gyrfalcon from near Perrydale to make an appearance at my farm!
PS: That one bare field will be fun to watch this winter. A flock of geese landed far out, so I think I have a reasonable chance of finding a snow goose. Or maybe a Lapland Longspur, or at least some Least Sandpipers? And I can always dream of a Mountain Plover.. Should be some puddles out there by morning.