Wind (current)

Swimming Coopers Hawk In Whitby Harbour!!

Sunday, Jan 22nd:
OMG ooops we did it again. Tracy and I went to check on a few Peregrine nest sites, and inbetween we did some general birding. We popped into Thicksons Woods to see the Great Horned Owls. We spotted one and then heard the other answer a call. Both were burried so no photos. From there we decided to drop in to Whitby Harbour, almost literally!!
We stopped and saw a Trumpeter Swan very near the road. It was too friendly. We later learned from Chris who we bumped into there(having just hung up on Ann!!,the nerve of some people) that C15 tagged Trumpeter had walked right into a primary school recently and TWC had to go and remove him! While I dallied taking the Swan's photo,Tracy heard a splash. She called to me and I heard "he's going to drown her". She had called out "she's going to drown!" I thought she was referring to a male duck mating a female as sometimes the male holds the female under while mating her, but no!! Flailing around,paddling even with both wings is a Coopers Hawk in the water. It was well into the water and really struggling. Tracy saw the Coopers Hawk,a 2nd year,female(from pics the eye wasnt totally changed colour) hit and grab onto a gull! The weight of the gull and momentum carried both into the water at least 20ft-30ft from shore. The Coopers was clamped on and trying to paddle/swim with both wings to pull the gull to shore. We dont think the gull was completely dead when they hit the water as there was an initial struggle. The Coopers was suffering under the weight of dragging the gull, and we could see it was running out of gas. Both Tracy and I contemplated jumping in the water to try to save the bird. Soon it went under completely. For a moment that seemed like forever the Coopers Hawk disappeared from view beneath the water, when with one last effort it emegered, leaving go of its meal and flying to a very low branch in the water. Its tail was still in the water from where it perched. WOW were we glad to see it at least above water. She sorted herself out, and moved to a higher perch and began preening and trying to dry off. Eventually she made her way to the shore and sat drying in the sun and terrible cold breeze. There was no way of reaching her at all. We worried she may freeze before she could dry off. We had to leave,hoping for the best.
We returned awhile later after checking the harbour. We saw a car pulled over and someone out taking photos. I spotted first what she was taking pics of. The Coopers had flown across the street and into a roadside tree,catching the last hour of sun, preening and drying further. She would be OK. The person taking the photos was our friend Chris! We told her what this Coopers Hawk had just been up to! Another sighting of a lifetime!! Tracy did get video of the swimming Coopers. I will try to get her to post it and show it to you.
Tracy's accounts of each of the last 2 days are at CPFs website with a few photos.(sorry you'll have to copy and paste the links, darned if I can figure out how to make it an active link)

Freezing 3 Falcon Day Jan 21 2012

Today was just an incredible lesson in "you never know what you will see". Tracy and I have been busy checking up on various Peregrine Falcon nesting pairs around the GTA, mostly in the westend as its closer to home.
On Sunday we wanted to check a few sites. We started our day at Holcim,in Mississauga,the old St Lawrence Cement plant. We spotted the pair fairly easily and set about trying to ID both adults. The female gave us some information. She had a black over green band and a silver USFG band. This means she is possibly from New York,but we have to confirm 100% when we are able to see the band numbers in the future. That was good news and we decided to leave for our 2nd stop at King St,in downtown Toronto, BUT WAIT, we got to the corner and saw a huge flock(murmuration is the new buzz word) of European Starlings twisting and turning in the sky. We watched looking for a bird of prey among them. The Starlings landed absolutely covering powerlines. While Tracy tried to get photos as a record of just how many there were,I spotted a Kestrel just beside us. We started taking photos of that perched atop a roadside tree. We decided again, time to move on, BUT WAIT, we hear a distress call(scream) of a Starling and then see a bird fly low across the road infront of us, landing on the grass across the road. Its our 3rd falcon species in one block! A Merlin has taken down a Starling and is finishing it off. It begins to eat when it is spooked from its meal by...a Redtailed Hawk in a tree behind it! The Merlin flew up to a powerline above the abandoned meal. Clearly it was interested in going back down to eat, as it looked down upon its lunch. Moments passed and finally it swooped down and made one aborted attempt before it successfully snatched up its prize and flew off out of sight to eat! What a series of events! No wonder the Starlings were wheeling all over the sky,4 predators within a block and 3 at one intersection!!
We finally proceeded to King St. We thawed out in the pizza joint near our chosen watch location and both adults flew in. We could only verify that the male was banded black over black,making it an Ontario produced and banded bird. The couple seemed uneasy and we half expected to see a 3rd Peregrine in the territory. We were frozen again after a couple hours so we moved on. We made quick stop ins at Islington and Bloor nestsite, where we found Angel was out but Jack was in. Continuing our "Tour de Peregrine" we dropped into the William Osler site,where OConnor was out but we found Hurricane on their favorite hospital H.
It was quite a day. Such as they are here are my photos of today, I hope to post a few of Tracys superior shots soon. Id love to post a story or 2 about the rare birds some of you have been seeing around Toronto and area. Please send them to me to post if U wish. Photos would be great too!