Sunday, March 21, 2010

March 21: Air Space

My friend Brian and I stopped by Weskeag Marsh this afternoon to see what birds might have arrived. When we first got there, a big flock of crows seemed to be chasing something. They weren't making too much of a ruckus, so they must have successfully driven off whatever they'd ganged up against. Among the mallards, black ducks, and many little green-winged teals, we picked out a great blue heron. Several vociferous killdeer made their presence known throughout the marsh. Another great blue heron flew in. A song sparrow chipped from the bushes. The sun brightened, making it difficult to look westward out over the pannes.

Then Brian spotted an adult bald eagle soaring in over the trees. We hoped it would flush the ducks, so we could get a good count on the waterfowl lurking unseen at the back of the marsh. But instead of hunting, the eagle simply perched on a pine bough. I thought the crows, who were still loitering like a bunch of delinquents, might decide to mob the bird, but apparently they couldn't be bothered. So we kind of forgot about the eagle until a few minutes later we noticed two red-tailed hawks aggressively chasing it away. They followed the eagle as it soared higher and higher above the trees, diving on the larger bird quite closely at times. Fellow birder Don Reimer, who visits the marsh almost daily, wondered aloud if this was the same pair of red-tails that had nested near the marsh last year. By the way they were acting, I'd say so. They flanked that eagle like two fighter jets, escorting it out of their air space.

Driving away about ten minutes later, we saw one of the hawks perched above a nearby field. When I pulled over so Brian could try to photograph it, it took flight over the pannes, its red tail shining in the afternoon sun.

Red tails a warning,
two hawks escort an eagle
out of their air space.

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