Sunday, March 27, 2011
American Kestral Sighting
Even though it was Sunday, my visit to the park today didn't happen until just before 6pm. Temps are still hovering just below freezing which is actually way below normal for this time of year. Fortunately there's been lots of sun lately -giving me hope that Spring might still arrive sometime this year. While walking down the long, straight stretch of path on the northwest side, I saw a bird come and land on the very top most part of a tall dead tree. It reminded me of a Northern Shrike so I took a peak with my binoculars. I couldn't believe my eyes but it was most definitely a male American Kestral! I was very far away but took pics anyway thinking I might not ever see one again. After crossing the bridge I decided to hike out along the creek in hopes that I might see some more Hooded Mergansers. But on the way, I spotted the Kestral yet again, this time with a fresh meal in his grasp! He was obviously preoccupied so I took the opportunity to hike closer. He was literally tearing his prey to shreds and bits of fur where flying everywhere. I couldn't believe that on top of seeing this colorful bird for the first time, I was getting to witness him in action, doing what only raptors do. He was really working at his meal, clutching and moving it with one foot while pulling back with his strong neck. In the process he had fur stuck to his beak. I was close enough that I could even see the two pink, hind legs of whatever rodent he'd snatched up. I assumed it was a Vole, not a mouse, as it was nearly the size of his own head. After I got too close, he flew off in the opposite direction and I finally made my way to the tall Cottonwood tree along the banks of the creek. I sat here for a while watching all the waterfowl action, hoping too see anything more interesting than all the Mallards. Eventually a male and female pair of Wood Ducks landed a long ways down the creek. They are the first I've seen this year. As I was sitting and watching, the Kestral made a 3rd and final appearance, roosting in some shorter brush near the creek for a short time.