Happy ‘Grin

by Lanny McDowell on October 20, 2010

This is prime season for peregrines to move through Martha’s Vineyard.  One guy up at the Gay Head Cliffs at Aquinnah saw eighteen the other day, with four visible at one time.  Right place at the right time.

Sometimes the falcons  exert what seems from my vantage point like a lot of energy acquiring a meal, like chasing down a Sanderling, maneuvering one out over open water and cutting off its climb for height or an escape back to the  flock.  Recently I have been noticing, instead, some almost casual chases.  The falcon will gain considerable height and then soar headed into the wind, waiting for a tired landbird to approach the coast from off the sea.  The capture of these hapless migrants is usually accomplished with a minimum of effort, sometimes in only a couple of passes at the prey.  It’s not casual at all for the victim, I am sure, but the odds against evasion are high.  After the stoop for capture, it’s a ho-hum glide down to the beach or an easy row against the breeze to settle on a suitable perch right on the sand.  In the photos that follow, the falcon’s meal was a Song Sparrow, definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time!

The stoop:

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The look:

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The getaway:

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Tidying up:

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Headed for the next course:

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Speeding Bullet birds are very cool!  Lan

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These images and Lanny McDowell Avian Art fine art prints are available for purchase. Contact me or View my gallery.

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Sam Low 10.20.10 at 4:23 pm

way to go Lanny – great shots.



Soo 10.21.10 at 3:46 pm

Ah, the master of the hunt. Stunning photos. Do love being on the Vineyard during hawk migration!

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