[CT Birds] Hammo on New Year's Day
Mntncougar at aol.com
Mntncougar at aol.com
Thu Jan 2 21:06:25 EST 2014
Lots of people have mentioned that there was a Snowy Owl giving wonderful
looks to many onlookers from the Cedar Island Platform most of New Year's
Day. I thought I'd add a little to that.
It was clearly NOT the same owl that was seen for quite a few days about a
month ago. That owl was very heavily marked, appearing very dark except
for the face, and was probably an immature female. By contrast, when I first
saw this new bird, for the first hour or more, it was facing away, and the
back did not appear to have much marking at all, or at least it seemed very
light. The back of the head was almost completely unmarked white.
But unlike most of the Snowies I've seen, this bird was very active and
flew around several times, finally alighting in a little pocket of marsh
grass near the beach, almost directly in front of the platform and facing the
platform. Then it was obvious that the "underparts" were very heavily
marked, much more so than the back, it seemed to me. Except for the white face
and a little vee below it the breast and belly appeared much darker than I
expected. Because of the windy weather and the photographic limitations of my
equipment my pictures are very poor, but good enough to show those
I never got a great look at the feet, but I saw no sign of blue marking
that would have indicated it was the bird that was released a few days ago.
The highlight of the day for me and everyone else there at the moment was
the time a Black Duck made the mistake of flying almost directly over the
owl. The owl immediately took off and began to chase, and the two of them
went around and around the marsh area for two or 3 minutes. Several times it
looked like the owl could take the duck, but never made the final effort and
seemingly lost interest and flew back to its perch.
On another occasion the owl took off and flew to a small cedar tree
directly in front of the platform. It then was forced to spread its wings for
balance several times because it was being buffeted by the wind, giving us
great looks.. And it finally gave up and flew to a final perch in the marsh
grass in front of us. At times it seemed it was almost asleep, hunkered down
and eyes closed or nearly so. Before that it had been very alert.
There were quite a few shorebirds around and as the tide dropped they took
over the mud flats near the platform. And another highlight occurred when
the entire flock suddenly took off together. They had been stooped on by a
Peregrine Falcon, who came up empty and then flew just to the south of the
platform, giving very good, if fleeting, views. The funny thing was, when
several people called the bird, very few others even bothered to look; they
were so focussed on seeing the owl.
I didn't see it but a Great Horned Owl perched briefly in the trees along
the trail to the platform, and quite a few people got to see it very well.
All in all a very nice first day of the year.
Here's a link to the best pictures I could manage. Click on the first
picture to enlarge:
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