adventures in nature

Posts tagged “ferruginous hawk

Klamath Basin report VI – Butte Valley Finale

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Cowboy boots ‘n mountain buttes
Pick-up trucks ‘n luckless ducks
Hungry hawks ‘n too-thin socks
Saw eagle with coyote, like I was on peyote
So comes to a close, my trip to the Klamath Basin

Ha!! Ah jeez. Not my best work there.

Regardless, some of the best action on my trip was saved for last. As I left the area, I stopped off in an spot that was reported to have large numbers of ferruginous hawks, a species that I had seen scant sign of in the Klamath Basin just to the north.

Initially I wasn’t seeing any raptors at all as I drove along some of the roads in the snowy flat lands that consisted primarily of ag fields or open, high desert ecosystems. Thee wild areas featured primarily rabbit brush and desert sage, with the occasional juniper tree. There were jack rabbit and coyote tracks all over the place.

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Butte Valley CA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Butte Valley CA

I was shocked that there didn’t seem to be ANY raptors around an area that seemed like it would be full of prey. The reason? They were all in one spot. Literally. When I finally found the raptor swarm, there must have been over 100 birds of prey in the 360 degree view around me – and two coyotes! They were in a number of adjacent ag fields that hadn’t been plowed. The mice/vole/ground squirrels populations there must be outrageous. Everyone was there for lunch!

There was a line of telephone poles along the country road, and on almost every other pole there was at least one raptor – but sometimes as many as five on one pole! And sometimes multiple species! I had never seen anything like this.

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Five! raptors on one telephone pole – (from left): 2 juvenile red-tailed hawks, 1 juvenile ferruginous hawk, one adult red-tailed hawk, and one dark morph ferruginous hawk) / Butte Valley CA

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same crew as the above picture, but with an adult ferruginous hawk doing a fly-by! / Butte Valley CA

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immature bald eagle on the front pole, and raptors on almost every pole thereafter down the road / Butte Valley CA

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and more …

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“If I ignore him maybe he won’t see me …” – juvenile FEHA (ferruginous hawk) on left, juvenile RTHA (red-tailed hawk) on right / Butte Valley CA

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“Wait, does he know I’m here?”

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“Well hello there” (juv RTHA on left, juv FEHA on right)

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immature bald eagle (Basic I?) with juvenile RTHA / Butte Valley CA

There was an irrigation wheel line with eight segments on it, and I counted 19 raptors on it (including bald eagles, ferruginous hawks, rough-legged hawks, and red-tails)! In the immediate area were a lot of red-tailed hawks mostly perched on something, and all over the ground in the fields there were ferruginous hawks everywhere (probably 50+ of that species alone)!! There were also a good number of Northern harriers, bald eagles, rough-legged hawks, and at least one golden eagle. Plus the two coyotes. It was unbelievable.

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dark morph FEHA / Butte Valley CA

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dark morph FEHA / Butte Valley CA

What an incredible finale to my trip. It often happens that way – as if the Spirits of the Land are trying to get me to stay. I will certainly be back there soon.

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red-tailed hawk on juniper / Butte Valley CA

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red-tailed hawk on doug fir (?) / Butte Valley CA

Thank you Klamath Basin!

Links to more information on Klamath Basin:

KS Wild

Winter Wings Festival – being held this Feb 11-14th 2016!

Klamath Audobon

Klamath Birding

Klamath Basin National Wildlife Complex


2016 Jan 03 – Klamath Basin area trip preview

What an absolutely amazing place – the Oregon / Cali border, specifically the Klamath Basin area. I did my own version of a takeover of a National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon the past two days, but it was all peaceful, and I think much more exciting.

One of the especially amazing sites from my trip … just your typical scenario of a coyote and a golden eagle randomly next to each other (story to follow soon):

IMG_1662 v1Western Coyote and Adult Golden Eagle / Lower Klamath NWR

 

IMG_1761 v1-3Getting Crowded Up Here (from left):  2 Red-Tailed Hawks, 1 Ferruginous Hawk, 1 Red-Tailed Hawk, & 1 Ferruginous Hawk (dark morph)/ Butte Valley CA

IMG_1721 v1young Bald Eagle (“Basic I” – 2nd year, close to 3rd year) / Lower Klamath NWR

The quantity and diversity of raptors found in this one area during the winter is astounding!

Happy New Year – more pictures and details on this trip coming soon …


2015 Nov 04 – ferruginous hawks have arrived!

These pictures are dedicated to LB and West County Hawk Watch – much love and respect for your passion, dedication, mentoring, generosity, trust and expertise. One of the first FEHA’s that I ever saw was with Larry, and to this day, every time I see one, I think of you my friend.

These birds have arrived to take up residence for the winter from their summer breeding grounds in the plains, and I am always excited to see them – largest of our native hawks.

IMG_1470 v1juvenile Ferruginous Hawk(s) / Mendocino County CA

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juvenile ferruginous hawk

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juvenile ferruginous hawk / Point Reyes National Seashore CA


winter migrants have arrived

IMG_9596 juvenile ferruginous hawkjuvenile ferruginous hawk, point reyes national seashore

IMG_9592 juvenile ferruginous hawkjuvenile ferruginous hawk, point reyes national seashore

IMG_9588 tres otters and great egretgreat egret and three river otters / point reyes national seashore

IMG_9601 adult female northern harrieradult female northern harrier / point reyes national seashore

IMG_9607 bobcata flushed bobcat on the run / point reyes national seashore


another adventure at the lagoon

red-tailed Hawk (intermediate morph)

red-tailed Hawk (intermediate morph)

Sunday was a warm and clear day on the coast, strange weather for January – it felt like summer (well, summer anywhere besides the coast and the Bay area). We started the day by witnessing some interesting behavior by a couple of deer that caught our attention. The deer, which appeared to be doe and a yearling (nearly the same size), were standing with heads raised and their focus on something in the chaparral to the north of us. The yearling took off trotting, then bounding, right towards the path we were on, seemingly unconcerned with our presence. It then stopped and turned around, bounding back to its mother. The two of them then started a slow walk in the direction of the threat, with the mother in the lead. Shifting our position back down the trail, we were able to see what was causing the concern …

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I was only able to catch the tail-end of the bobcat as he disappeared into a coyote bush (for the moment now a bobcat bush) – a large male that uses this particular territory who’ve we’ve tracked and seen around here before. Although I think it’s rare for bobcats to take down full grown deer in this area, fawns are fair game. This particular young one is probably big enough to be safe, but given the respect that the deer on this day showed towards him, and on another occasion when I witnessed his presence disturb them, I’d say he is still viewed as a threat. He seems to be a large bobcat based on his tracks and scat.

The most interesting part of this whole interaction was when the deer started to FOLLOW the bobcat – the doe literally walked right to where the cat had disappeared, and she seemed to be chasing HIM out of the area! Good stuff.

On the way in to the lagoons, I spotted an American bittern in a small pond along the pathway – I’ve seen one on the far shores of the larger lagoon, but never one so out in the open here. It was shaping up to be another good day, with lots of live animal sightings. Later in the day on the return trip it was still there and posed for some pictures in the beautiful light.

American bittern

American bittern

American bittern

American bittern

As we approached the lagoon, a resident great-blue heron was hunting in the shallows.

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There were quite a few sets of trails and tracks on the dunes, but the striped skunks were most prevalent. This is their mating season, during which they really seem to be wandering around outside of their normal areas with higher frequency – sadly it is also marked by the large number of road kill skunks at this time of year. Notably absent was the female bobcat that usually patrols this area. It is also breeding season for the cats, so her daily patterns are likely interrupted by the breeding impulse. I also spotted at least one golden eagle soaring above the hills, only the second time I’ve seen one in this particular area. Along with a ferruginous hawk sighting (a somewhat rare winter visitor in this area) and the great view of an intermediate morph red-tailed hawk, we had some great raptor and other bird sightings. During the day at various times the family of otters was visible on the upper lagoon, but I never really was close enough for any pictures. Just their presence is a joy, watching them even from afar is so fun.

marsh wren

marsh wren

ferruginous hawk

ferruginous hawk

As we were resting by the lagoon, a pie-billed grebe made it’s way out of the shallows by the cattails with quite a prize – after straining to identify what it was, we realized it was a small bass! The grebe paddled around with the fish in its beak for at least five minutes, occasionally shaking it and twice losing it in the water, but diving down and quickly recapturing it. Finally, after almost ten minutes, it downed the fish whole!!

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Impressive.

Another great day out there, I’m so thankful for that place and to be able to wander in it. Thanks also to Richard Vacha and everyone who participated in this Marin Tracking Club excursion for making it a fun and educational day.


another abbott’s adventure … sand stories

i don’t have a lot of words right now. one morning at a place like this is the same as reading 1000 books, combined with touching 1000 textures, smelling 1000 smells, hearing 1000 sounds, tasting 1000 flavors, seeing 1000 treasures and feeling a 1000000 heart strings of life.

we were treated at the beginning of the morning just after sunrise to the five resident Otters foraging in the lagoon, and a visitor that I have never seen before in this immediate area … a golden Eagle!

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the above picture was of a creature foreshadowing things to come – this red-legged Frog (?) was a precursor to SO many Frog tracks in the sand, along with many deer Mice and brush Rabbit tracks – appearing in the middle of bare sand dunes for reasons unexplained. I surmise the new moon allowed some expanded forays for these normally reclusive species who stick to the cover of the plants on the edges of the dunes during most times.

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brush Rabbit tracks

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Frog tracks (likely red-legged Frog)

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river Otter scent marking on the dunes

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Bobcat (on right) and some type of amphibian (Salamander) tracks on left – perhaps an Ensinitas?

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deer Mouse tracks with tail drag

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beautiful clear front tracks of a red-legged Frog (right) along with deer Mouse tracks on the left

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great-horned Owl tracks leading into a take-off spot

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great-horned Owl trail …

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WOW! what a find!!!! the trail seen in the picture from the left is a great-horned Owl coming in for a landing (final landing spot seen in the center of the picture). you can see it’s wing and tail feather imprints in the sand. also you can see a Raccoon trail diagonally across the picture from lower right to left (occurring after the Owl), along with faint Frog tracks paralleling the Raccoon, and some two-legged tracks at the top.

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another view of the great-horned Owl landing spot (along with feather marks in sand!!), and its trail leading away from the landing point – ultimately to a take-off spot around 10 yards away. again, you can see the Raccoon trail across the center, and many other tracks in the background.

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great-horned Owl tracks

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a beautiful black-tailed mule Deer trail

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Sanderling trail (?)  … though I’m open to other interpretations … and some faint deer Mice, Frog and insect trails – this was found in the lagoon sand dunes, far from the surf

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more Sanderling (?) tracks

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another (!) great-horned Owl trail in the sand dunes!

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one of my favorites to see live (but seldom a dependable sight), there were plenty of north american river Otter tracks around

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the turkey Vultures are always hanging around for a meal, and this (faint) track (among smaller shore bird tracks) showed that they are quick to come in on the remains of shore birds who are predated at the lagoon by a varied cast of opportunists …

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Bobcat tracks in sediment / algae

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Bobcat trail in sediment / algae

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Bobcat tracks (nice shot of front and rear) – based on the size and the shape, we decided it was likely a male

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likely a Bobcat scat – it contained almost purely feathers!

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Osprey – one of the NINE raptor species that we were treated to seeing on this day (Osprey, northern Harrier, white-tailed Kite, Kestrel, peregrine Falcon, turkey Vulture, Red-tailed hawk, Ferruginous hawk, and golden Eagle!). My friends also saw a Cooper’s hawk as they were driving out.

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Red-tailed hawk on dunes

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these snowy Plovers, a highly endangered species, were using human tracks in the sand as wind breaks from the increasing gusts coming in from the ocean – it was pretty adorable

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this peregrine Falcon was not welcome company for the Kestrel who was attempting to escort it out of the area

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the “mud hen,” or Coot – top of the menu for many predators at this time of year here. when the Otters come by, they move to the shore and band together, waiting for them to pass

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for reasons still not understood (by me), the Ravens were harassing the Red-tailed hawks as usual. perhaps it is for fun or to prove social status … fun, being something that the Ravens seem to incorporate into their lives all the time, evidenced by their frolicking in the air lifts caused by the oncoming winds into the dunes. seeing them play in the air is like watching Otters in the water, the energy is simply fun!

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lots of black-tailed mule Deer around in the fields, where we also saw lots of Badger sign

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Coyote tracks

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a cool shot of some black-tailed mule Deer tracks in the sand (with some two different bird tracks on the right of the frame)

the only animal signs that I might have expected to see and didn’t on this day were the grey fox and jack rabbit. grey Fox sign isn’t often seen right in this area, but jack Rabbit is. curious.

what a great day out at Point Reyes National Seashore, this place is such a gift – may it be protected for all this diversity of life to thrive, always.

zd


teaser

There are too many photos and stories from yesterday to rush this tale, which I don’t have time at the moment to honor properly  – but here are a few teaser photos until I do. Honestly, books could be written about what is found in any few square feet of space in places like Abbott’s Lagoon. The richness and density and variety of life in this area, along with many friendly substrates that record so much of it to see afterward, is just such a gift.

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The above picture is of a Great-Horned Owl landing spot in sand – you can see where it landed, and in the foreground is the imprint of its wing feathers in the sand. You can also see the trail of it walking away, out of the frame to the top left of the picture … a trail of about 15 feet, where it took to the air again.

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Black-Tailed Mule Deer Buck

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Ferruginous Hawk

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Bobcat tracks in algae/sediment


Abbotts Lagoon Oct 2013

An otter day. And an otter moment. In a very odd month.

north american river otter

north american river otter

It was this one’s turn to use Nature’s all natural giant sand dune litter box.

north american river otter

north american river otter

north american river otters

north american river otters

a ferruginous hawk

a ferruginous hawk

This fella was really into the rut. The doe, not so much …

black-tailed mule deer buck

black-tailed mule deer buck and doe

He was catching some serious air, hot in pursuit.

black-tailed mule deer buck

black-tailed mule deer buck

None of us did so well in our pursuits this month, it would seem …


day of the dark morphs

We saw a dark morph ferruginous hawk in Sonoma County the other week (!!), it’s been hanging around with a light morph ferruginous hawk in an area that also has at least one dark morph red-tailed hawk (probably the one that I photographed and posted here from last year).  A rare treat in Sonoma County to see ferruginous hawks of any plumage – the largest hawk native to the United States.

dark morph ferruginous hawk / Sonoma County CA

dark morph ferruginous hawk / Sonoma County CA

dark morph ferruginous hawk / Sonoma County CA

dark morph ferruginous hawk / Sonoma County CA

dark morph ferruginous hawk / Sonoma County CA

dark morph red-tailed hawk / Sonoma County CA

white-tailed kite / Sonoma County CA