Mating Peregrine Falcons + Beamer Hawkwatch

Last Sunday, as I made my way to the western tip of the pier at Lift Bridge Canal in Burlington, I passed this juvenile Greater Black-backed Gull consuming a male Red-breasted Merganser.

Juvenile Greater-black Backed Gull with Red-breasted Merganser, Lift Bridge Canal, Burlington, Ontario

Juvenile Greater-black Backed Gull with Red-breasted Merganser

It was clear that there had been a lot of hunting either the previous day or prior to my arrival.  Out on the ice there were several other Greater Black-backed Gulls, two American Crows and two Bald Eagles scavenging the carcasses.  While this may at first blush appear unsettling, this how these birds survive.

Greater Black-backed Gulls and prey, Lift Bridge Canal, Burlington, ON

Greater Black-backed Gulls and prey

All week I had been praying for the temperatures to remain cool enough for a revisit of the eagles.  I hoped to get close up shots using a camera I bought about a month and a half ago.  The Canon Powershot SX50HS was highly recommended by Lillian Stokes of Stokes Bird Guide fame. With the aid of the camera, I got a better look of what was transpiring on the ice.

The eagles were far from the pier.  This picture was taken with my camera.

Two juvenile Bald Eagles, Lift Bridge Canal, Burlington, ON

Two Juvenile Bald Eagles taken with my camera

With the Powershot I got these:

Juvenile Bald Eagle with prey in talons, Lift Bridge Canal, Burlington, Ontario

Juvenile Bald Eagle with prey in talons

Juvenile Bald Eagles, Lift Bridge Canal, Burlington, Ontario

Juvenile Bald Eagles with prey

The pictures would have been better if I had used the monopod but I sorta, kinda, well, I did, leave it at home.

To my left, a trio of Gadwalls caught my attention, two males and one female.  The males were in hot pursuit.  As is evident, the female was quite involved in the selection process.

Female and male Gadwalls, Lift Bridge, Burlington, ON

Female Gadwall announcing the drake of her dreams

Male and female Gadwall, Lift Bridge Canal, Burlington, ON

The contented couple

The rejected suitor swam away with dignity intact.

Male Gadwall, Lift Bridge Canal, Burlington, Ontario

Rejected suitor leaving the scene

I really like this Rock Pigeon.

Rock Pigeon, Lift Bridge Canal, Burlington, ON

Gorgeous Rock Pigeon

The resident Peregrine Falcons were quite active.  Their calls echoed throughout the canal.  At one point I heard this horrid cry from atop the bridge.  On turning my camera towards the nest box, I was confronted with the sight and sounds of mating activity.  All I could say was, “Dear Lord!”

Mating Peregrine Falcons, Lift Bridge, Burlington, Ontario

Mating Peregrine Falcons

In preparing this post I was curious about the live cam and wanted to learn something about the history of these birds.   I found blogger Peregrine Patrol is well acquainted with this pair.  For the identities of the falcons and nesting updates please click here.

UPDATE:  Signs are now posted at the Lift Bridge warning of pending construction work from April 2015 to I believe June 2016.  The activity will no doubt impact the falcons.  I will be following Peregrine Patrol for updates.  Additionally, access to the western tip is now barred due to the construction project. This move effectively cuts off access to viewing the Bald Eagles on the ice.

Next stop was the Burlington Pier.

Burlington Pier, Burlington, ON

Burlington Pier

In the waters below was a sweet little Horned Grebe.

Horned Grebe, Burlington Pier, Burlington, ON

Horned Grebe

BEAMER MEMORIAL CONSERVATION AREA

Yesterday, around mid-day we made our way to Beamer in Grimbsy for the Niagara Peninsula Hawkwatch.

Updating raptor count, Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, Grimsby, ON

Updating raptor count

Spring 2014 Season Specials Totals, Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, Grimsby, ON

Spring 2014 Season Specials Totals

Weather conditions were not ideal but we were certainly delighted that we tarried for a while because we saw Turkey Vultures, Red-Tailed Hawks and an adult Bald Eagle.

Adult Bald Eagle

Adult Bald Eagle

My favourite moments  of our stay were the following:  (1) The arrival of a 11 or 12 year old boy and his grandmother. She was incredibly supportive of this very knowledgeable lad.  (2)  The official spotter’s description of climbing a 40 foot pine to view a Great-Horned Owl’s nest.   He said about 10 feet from the nest the stench was overwhelming.  Turns out the parents were feeding their young a skunk.  During the monitoring of the nest he found remnants of a variety of rodents and, to his surprise, a shredded American Crow.

If you have an hour or so to spare, do try to visit.  Their daily updates  and forecasts can be found here. Also, an Open House will be held on April 3, 2015.  Please see website for details.

We left Beamer for Burlington.  As we wound our way down the Escarpment I spotted a hawk on a homeowner’s property.  We stopped the car.  The hawk flew up into a pine tree.

Red-Tailed Hawk, Grimsby, Ontario

Red-Tailed Hawk atop pine tree

Then suddenly flew down to a fence post immediately parallel to the rear right passenger seat of the vehicle. Then it moved forward to the next fence post. And finally to a third.  The hawk was not bothered by our presence whatsoever.  We had a hilarious time contorting ourselves in the driver’s and passenger’s seats as the bird moved from one post to the next.

Red-Tailed Hawk, Grimsby, Ontario

Red-Tailed Hawk checking field for rodents

Red-Tailed Hawk, Grimsby, Ontario

Red-Tailed Hawk blinking on the third post/wire

Red-Tailed Hawk, Grimsby, Ontario

Red-Tailed Hawk – a figure of concentration

Red-Tailed Hawk's piercing eyes in Grimbsy, ON

Red-Tailed Hawk’s piercing eyes

My favourite picture of the day was taken by my travelling companion from the driver’s seat as he stretched and repositioned himself behind my headrest.  I was crouched partially on the passenger seat and on the floor. Steady hands and determination netted the following photograph.

Red-Tailed Hawk, Grimsby, Ontario

Red-Tailed Hawk – my favourite picture

We came up empty at Winderemere Basin in Burlington but we didn’t give a fig because the Red-tailed Hawk made our day.

 

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