21184Matador Area Birds
- Aug 15, 2011Yesterday I thought something must have happened to 3U, one of the four Swainson's Hawk chicks from the laneway nest. The other three, 4U, 5U, and 6U, were on fences near the nest, in eyesight of each other but much more spread out than last week. I checked several times through the day, but never saw 3U (most likely a male by measurements). This morning, however, all four were strung out on the fences.
I thought that would be my highlight for the day.
But later on, the aerial display of the dozen or so adult Swainson's Hawks dropping out of the sky into the lentil stubble, as the combines uncovered voles, was nothing short of spectacular. A couple of the hawks hit the ground so hard I thought they might break something. Most years, I can't tempt SWHAs with rodents at this time of year, the hawks much preferring the superior protein content of grasshoppers to mice or voles. But, we have very few grasshoppers this year. The hawks ate so many voles that I wondered if they might be too heavy to fly. As we moved out of the field, the hawks were just standing around.
So, I figured that would be the highlight.
But... just after dark, when the lentil straw toughened, and lightning flashed in all directions, we shut down and headed for home. The sweet clover is three feet high on the edges of the road and the crops are very good, so the narrow road is the only open area. Fortunately, I wasn't going fast so I was able to brake before hitting the owl as it rose right in front of me. I really like Short-eared Owls, so it's always a treat to see one. But then, there was another one, and another, and another. Altogether, there were six Short-eared Owls on the way home, all rising from the middle of the road, ducking and diving into the night.
Very cool. The highlight of the day.
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