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FW: [TEXBIRDS] More on the Corpus Gyr

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  • larry arnold
    Since I am just returning from Texas, and was at the CC hawkwatch site only yesterday, thereby missing this bird by a day, here is the posting just for
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 24, 2008
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      Since I am just returning from Texas, and was at the CC hawkwatch site
      only yesterday, thereby missing this bird by a day, here is the posting
      just for fun........


      -----Original Message-----
      From: Birding discussion list for Texas
      [mailto:TEXBIRDS@...] On
      Behalf Of Clay Taylor
      Sent: Wednesday, September 24, 2008 7:02 PM
      To: TEXBIRDS@...
      Subject: [TEXBIRDS] More on the Corpus Gyr

      ---> Texbird help file http://www.texbirds.org <---

      Hi all -

      OK, I have sent the images to Patty Beasley, and as soon as they are
      up on the CC Birding website, we will let you know.

      In the meantime, we are all walking around shaking our heads in
      breaking out in silly grins and fist-bumping.

      At about 2:05 pm CDT, Libby Evan called out a large raptor, flying
      relatively low and heading toward the Hazel Bazemore Hawk Platform. The
      skies were lead-gray, and it was spitting rain. We had just endured a
      passing rain shower, and when I naked-eye saw the bird approaching, I
      grabbed my spotting scope out from under the roof and set it out on the
      deck, then attached the Pentax D-SLR.

      As the bird approached, it was obviously a large falcon - pointed wings,
      shallow wingbeat, squared tail. Against the sky, and through the
      viewfinder of the camera, the bird appeared VERY dark, and I even
      on that as we made sure the 25+ hawkwatchers got on the bird. At this
      time, there was no reason to call it anything other than an immature
      Peregrine, and we had seen a gorgeous adult PG just a few minutes
      My first frame was taken at 2:06:12 pm.

      It came in to the East of the platform, then slowed down as the hill
      rose up
      from the river lowlands to our viewing site. It was probably 200 yards
      away by then, but was still small in my viewfinder at an effective
      (24x). I shot 12 frames as it was flapping, then reversing its course
      looping once around to continue on past the platform, and behind the
      roofline from my view. Since I was busy making sure the focus and
      were correct, I did not really look closely at the bird's proportions,

      I looked over at Dane Ferrell - he was talking about the bird's size,
      and he
      clearly was puzzled by what he saw.

      Within 10 or 15 seconds, the bird evidently doubled back, because it
      right over the Hawk Platform, no more than 100 feet up, and I shouted to
      everybody even as I was getting the scope and camera aimed at it. It
      one loop above us (or "ring", if you prefer) and then set its wings and
      headed straight down toward the pond on the west side of the park. It
      accelerated down to the surface of the pond, crossed the road about 10
      up, rose up and then flipped down after something in the wet area on the
      other side of the road. Its momentum took it about 30 feet up, and it
      immediately turned over again to swoop at a Black-necked Stilt.

      By this time I was trying to get my scope refocused on the bird and pick
      up in the viewfinder. As soon as I did, I saw that the bird's
      were light & dark - the primaries were noticeably lighter than the
      coverts. At that point, it was trying to get the Stilt, which was
      underwater as the falcon dove on it, and I was trying to get photos of
      wings. My mind flashed back to a Christmas bird Count in CT years ago,
      when I saw a big, dark Gyrfalcon literally rip a Ring-billed Gull out of
      skies - this was Yogi Berra's "deja-vu all over again"!

      I started yelling about the wing pattern and Dane was yelling that this
      too big, dark, and powerful to be a Peregrine - I don't know who said
      "G-word" first, but it was definitely said loudly and with a great deal
      enthusiasm, and possibly with some colorful epithets thrown in. ;-)

      After five or six unsuccessful forays at the now wet but still alive
      the bird gained altitude, looped north and then flew off to the
      passing over the golf course and gone. My last shot was at 2:07:46 pm.

      By that point we were all wildly waving our arms, talking very loudly,
      wondering if we were part of a mass hallucination incident. There were
      hippies smoking funny cigarettes under the platform, and as soon as I
      recalled the images on the camera's LCD screen, it started to sink in -
      had seen a Gyrfalcon in the Coastal Bend!

      The photos showed no jesses on the bird's legs, and no bands on the
      Jesses would have been easily seen during the first pass and the close
      overhead passage. The bird was very dark, with heavy streaking
      The tail was massive, and it used it like a rudder when it was diving at
      Stilt. The wingshape was wide and blunt at the tip, especially when it

      That's a VERY hard way to have a four-falcon day, eh?

      For answers to questions about this list, as well as current Texas
      Birding Links, visit the Texbirds Reference Page at
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