FW: [TEXBIRDS] More on the Corpus Gyr
- 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........
From: Birding discussion list for Texas
Behalf Of Clay Taylor
Sent: Wednesday, September 24, 2008 7:02 PM
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
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,
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?
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