The Day of the Raptor

We’ve had three consecutive days of sunshine here in the Pacific Northwest, and I’ve been enjoying them tremendously. However, sunshine in the winter also means cold weather, and it was bitterly cold at Nisqually today, much harsher than I’d suspected.

I probably should have expected as much when I was greeted by this Northern Harrier when I got out of the car.

Norhtern Harrier on Ground

But I was surprised when I realized that all the ponds were frozen and most of the ducks I saw last week were nowhere in sight, probably a good thing since raptors seemed to be everywhere today.

I’ve seen a lot of harriers at Nisqually, but I’ve never seen a Peregrine Falcon before, and I doubt I would have realized what it was if the refuge personnel hadn’t pointed it out to me.

Peregrine Falcon in tree

I’m glad that gaze was fixated on the ducks in the pond in front of us and not on me.

However, when this immature Bald Eagle landed on a tree right above me as I was walking along, I began to wonder if I wasn’t also on the menu for today.

immature Bald Eagle

It’s hard not to feel sorry for the ducks hunkered down on a small island in the middle of a frozen lake with hunters blasting away to the south and north while raptors fly overhead.

Ducks Huddled Together

6 thoughts on “The Day of the Raptor”

  1. I’ve seen peregrines from time to time, and each time has been memorable. I believe they’re the fastest bird there is? Some now nest in our cities – from their perspective inaccessible ledges on tall buildings being little different from high cliffs. Each year a pair of peregrines nests near here on Lincoln Cathedral when they return from Africa in the spring.

  2. Incidentally, I’ve just remembered a book I bought last year by J.A.Baker called simply “The Peregrine”. It’s an absolute classic of natural history writing. Liitle is known about the author, who was a very retiring character and only wrote 2 books. Originally published in 1967, a new ed came out recently with an intro by Robert Macfarlane – one of my favourite writers on wild landscape.

  3. Wow! Great photos on an icy day, loren. The Peregrine Falcon appears to be in a perfect one-footed yoga pose.

    It’s been way too cold for me to spend much time outdoors. I’m grateful to have a set of windows which faces east out onto a cattail marsh owned by the Audubon Society. The marsh has been frozen since we have had this run of winter sunshine.

  4. Once again, your pictures dazzle and your comments delight. Thank you! I feel for the ducks, too. They don’t seem to have anywhere safer to go, and no matter how much they huddle together, they are still sitting ducks for predators.

  5. Great photos, Loren. Glad you were out there taking advantage of the lovely ‘noreaster.

    Tough to compete with winter- northwind days here.

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