Friday, October 26, 2007

Alabama Raptor Sightings

Raptors are my favorite group of birds, and we saw many of them in Alabama. One of the sites on the Alabama Birding Trail is behind a restaurant on Mobile Bay in Daphne, AL. We pulled in one afternoon for a look, and someone who did not look like a birder at all, sitting in a car in the parking lot, commented that there was often a Bald Eagle in the tree below. We did see Bald Eagles right over downtown Fairhope, and also on a lake in Dauphin Island, but I got no pictures. The Northern Harrier lived up to its common name of Marsh Hawk as it swooped low over several marshes we visited, its white rump flashing in the sun. I've never seen a Merlin before, but we sighted one high in a tree. They are smaller than the Peregrine Falcon and have no sideburns as most falcons do.
While at Dauphin Island we saw two Peregrines, however, flying around chasing each other. If this had been another time of year, I would have described this as courting behavior, but not in October. Ospreys dove in the water or perched in the tree tops watching for fish. One sat by an empty nest along the Blakely River until becoming disturbed by the jet skis and other loud boaters. The noise chased us away too. A family with small children came by and looked at the Osprey in the scope. It was the first time they'd ever seen a raptor up close and personal, and the kids were properly impressed.
My favorite raptor for this trip was an American Kestral, since he posed in a tree close enough for photos. Although raptors aren't as numerous as other birds, they will usually be found in the same area if you keep a sharp eye out for them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful pictures, and a lot of useful information packed into a short space. Well done.