Monday, 18 April 2011

Raptor Commute

Another sunny day meant another pleasantly meandering bike commute.  I headed for Confederation Park where I soon heard a harsh "jaaay, jaaay" from the bushes that took my mind back to Ontario.  Sure enough there was a Blue Jay, noisily foraging in the bushes.

Further down I met an experienced birder - really nice binoculars are a good sign of someone who might be able to teach me something!  He kindly put me on to an accipiter which he identified as a probable Cooper's Hawk.  I had some good views and snapped a few shots but, as I re-examine the photos, the size (11-13" based on the branch diameter) and the squareness of the tail have me thinking Sharp-shinned Hawk.  Comments would be appreciated as Cooper's would be a lifer for me so I am particularly wary on rushing to judgment.

Unidentified Accipiter, top image is 1/4 frame crop of 170mm image, bottom image is further crop from same, Click to Enlarge
Further along I found a Northern Flicker, looking very unconcerned about traffic, cyclists, or accipiters...
Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus well as this muskrat feeding in the creek.
Muskrat, Ondatra zibethicus
After picking the kids up I was heading up the 10th St. hill when I spotted a Merlin engaged in what I can only describe as a dogfight with an American Crow.  I watched these aerobatics for a moment, until they disappeared from view over the crest of the hill.  Rounding the corner at the top of hill and somewhat out of breath from the climb, I was pleasantly surprised to find a merlin, presumably the same bird, sitting in the top of a spruce tree.  A beautiful falcon and this one nicely showing off the paler brown of the prairie subspecies. 
Merlin, Falco columbarius (richardsonii)
 Not bad for an hour of cycle commuting!

1 comment:

  1. It is amazing what you can see in even a short commute if you walk or bike.
    I agree that the accipitor is probably a Sharp-shinned Hawk. The tail looks very square and has a narrow white border.But these are tough to call! See