Better Day Then Expected 59 Raptors Merlin Airshow

Today turned out much better than we had thought it may be. Bill,Carol,Ann.Dave,Walter,Frank,Alice and I enjoyed great views of many birds. We thought the highlight of the day was a low circling Osprey,which circled low above us. There is a rock,water fountain,and I believe the Ospreys hear the running water and circle above to see if there are fish below. The never to be forgotton highlight of the day was humbling for me,I had everything mucked up,such that I hope by admitting it,not to put doubt on my identification skills. All views were quick,and being so close most were sans binocular. 2 birds were interacting. Originally I called it a Kestrel and a Sharpshinned Hawk. After reviewing photos it was a Merlin and a Coopers. The brief quick chase moved behind the trees,with just the Merlin emerging. As this was happening I saw another falcon enter the area from the north,also very low. I did say I have another falcon coming as I thought possibly it was a Merlin at first glance. Indeed it was and the 2 Merlins then began an aerial display that would rival the weekend's airshow. They began chasing each other,dipping and diving at high speed around the park,disappearing from view briefly and reappearing. At one point they dove down the bluffs,with Walter,Ann and Carol staring down at them. Soon they sped up the side of the bluffs towards the watchers,close enough that Carol and Walter both ducked out of their way. This "airshow" went on for several minutes,fascinating and amazing all gathered! It wont soon be forgotton. After viewing Ann's photos,I believe it was 2 Merlins(a male and female) and one Coopers Hawk! While my initial calls were all proven wrong by the photos,the most important thing was to get it right. Always a learning experience. I had most certainly never seen anything like it before.
Merlin and Coopers Hawk Interacting
Merlin In Flight
2 Merlins
Classic look of Osprey at a distance.
Osprey Above Us
The final tally was 59 birds of prey,consisting of:
2-Northern Harriers
35-Sharpshinned Hawks
4-Coopers Hawks
3-Redtailed Hawks
6-American Kestrels
1-Peregrine Falcon
This brings our seasons total to 465 total raptors,which includes an impressive 51 Osprey. Thanks to everyone for helping spot today,and especially Ann for her excellent photos.

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