Northern Harrier

This mornings walk delivered some great bird sightings.  I guess I’m fortunate to find such  joy from simple things like spotting the first migrating birds of the season here on the farm.

While walking ahead along the wetland trail with the dogs, Claudia jumped the two male mallards.  We wondered what they were until I zoomed the photo on the digital camera and saw the distinctive green heads in the sunlight.  These were the first I’ve seen here this  season.  I saw the first Gadwalls last week – see previous post.

We had spotted several male Harriers hunting over the wetland since we left the car and when one finally made a turn for our position I was able to get these shots.  Unlike the Redtail Hawk (very common here), Harriers fly low over grassy areas and fields, find their prey, hover for a moment (see pic) and then attack.  They are amazing to watch this time of year when it is not uncommon to see a dozen or so patrolling the areas around the wetland.

The small bird is a Ruby Crowned Kinglet which is a species that winters here in the Delta.  They really seem to love the palmetto covered bottomland forest which, where the forest remains, is our native ground cover here.

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