Posts tagged as:


November Musings from Aquinnah

by Lanny McDowell on November 15, 2008

Finches getting up-

I figure a very rough guess of eight to nine hundred goldfinches flying off the cliffs into a westerly head wind in flocks of 25 to 40.  Only one ‘grine was around, but that one had a field day.  Faster than a lazy bullet.

There are really no more than one or two “good” photos here.  Hopefully, in the aggregate, they tell of a couple of hours well spent at the Gay Head Cliffs and Squibnocket on the 11th, when the skies were full over Martha’s Vineyard and visions of Cave Swallows filled my avian dreams. 

  The Look-

 The Look plus intention-

Boys will be boys-

Near miss or lucky choice, depending…


 Now, in the absence of any reasonable segue, a NOPA.  Better late than never- 

 And sparrows by the swamp.  A miracle-

Parler?  Converse?  Hobnob?              Chat. 

Finally, back to the beach & Harleymania.

Birds are cool!  Lanny

These images and more are available for purchase. Contact me or View store.


Cattle Egret(s) on MV

by Lanny McDowell on October 30, 2008

 A short saga began today with a call from an up-island birding friend:  “Do you wanna take some pictures of two Cattle Egrets?  They’re in with the horses.” 

“Sure, I’ll be up soon.”

I entered the farm looking for the horses and found a single egret with them.  No sign of the second.  I stalked the egret from behind a screen of colts.  It did not seem to be in any hurry to go anywhere.  When I quit firing off the camera the owner of the property showed up, squeezed through the split rails around the paddock and emerged back out holding the second egret.  We thought at first that it was starving, then realized one leg was dangling limp, never anywhere near a good sign.

My not-to-be-proven theory is that one of the horses, maybe a skittish colt, stepped on or kicked the hapless egret, interrupting what was already surely a challenging flight to warmer climes.


Tame bird?  Not really.  This is the second bird.  Had a badly broken leg, I am sorry to report.  Bad enough that Gus Ben David at the Vineyard’s World of Reptiles and Birds, an accomplished bird rehabilitator, said there there was nothing he could do.


Birds are cool!  Lanny

These images and more are available for purchase. Contact me or View store.


More Grins

by Lanny McDowell on October 5, 2008


For about three days now, not including this rainy Sunday, the Peregrine parade has been making the skies over the Gay Head cliffs on Martha’s Vineyard very unfriendly to other birds.  When the falcons are not patrolling, pursuing or eating they are often playing, rattling their swords and chasing and dive bombing each other.  While the next photos are technically not so hot , the action they capture is.











When their captured prey is small enough, they have no particular reason to land in order to consume it, so they remain aloft to dine, wings set on the updraft.

I think the meal here is a Northern Flicker, maybe a Red-bellied Woodpecker, judging by the tail feathers visible.  Click to enlarge.


In these shots it may be what’s left of a catbird.  It’s hard to say.



And the undertaker always wins:


Birds are cool!  Lanny

These images and more are available for purchase. Contact me or View store.


Stay off the cliffs, unless your name is Falcon.

by Lanny McDowell on October 2, 2008

 Thursday morning, 10/2, at the Gay Head cliffs in Aquinnah, wind blowing strong out of the WSW.  In my opinion there were two kinds of birds there:  falcons and Black Poll Warblers.  I was impressed that a number of warblers in the flight headed out into the wind for Cuttyhunk and beyond.  Amazing, given the prevalence of cruising raptors.


 Everybody knows the falcon is probably not going to eat the Turkey Vulture.  The vulture really cannot afford to take this to heart as a certainty.  Gross tonnage does not rule the air waves.



 It’s basic: speed and accuracy.



 Grin on grin.


 If you are a bird and are close enough to see a Peregrine like this, you should refile your flight plan.




 This is a Peregrine’s version of tiptoeing.


Sometimes it’s better to be a bystander than lunch.


The local Red-taileds do not often concede  home turf to ruffian interlopers, but three Peregines today and a smattering of Merlins made the skies a bit crowded.


Birds are cool!  Lanny

These images and more are available for purchase. Contact me or View store.