Thursday, April 18, 2013 Bramblings and Merlin

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

I glanced out the window around 3 pm this afternoon and saw a little snowball puff perched in the bare branches of the Mt Ash tree. A sliver of dark wing separated the fluffed up white back and rump from the white ball of a belly. I rushed outside, camera in hand, to try to photograph this very interesting HOARY REDPOLL candidate. It was the most promising bird yet, after searching all winter through 100s and 100s of Common Redpolls.

I did not find that bird, but while I was looking, I spotted a male BRAMBLING! It's been so long since I've seen one! He perched in a tangle of crab apple branches, watching the 50 or so COMMON REDPOLLS and PINE SISKINS swoop into the feeder and scavenge on the ground, all chattering loudly.

At 3:30 pm, I returned to try for more photos. Oddly, the feeder was deserted. Not one bird! I noticed a very few Redpolls and Siskins sitting very quietly on crab apple branches like innocent little apples. I suspected a Steller's Jay, but even that loudmouth was nowhere to be found. Then I spotted a female MERLIN clutching the very top leader of a neighboring spruce tree with her large yellow talons. The Merlin looked straight over at my yard and feeder, and probably studied me, frozen but making suspicious shutter slap sounds.

She peered over her shoulder behind her, looked right, and left, and ahead, swaying gently in the breeze, her banded tail occasionally flaring for balance. Hungry, hungry, where are those birds? Then abruptly, she launched off the spire and powered up, fluttering her wings rapidly, circling overhead. My hat fell off as I shot more images of her straight up. Higher and higher, then off and away in an instant.

The little finches let out a collective breath and a few started chattering. Gradually more and more joined the conversation and then bravely flew back to the feeder, the immediate danger over.

That's when I noticed the female BRAMBLING. I couldn't believe my luck! Not only two, but a pair! She was rummaging on the ground under the crab apple trees with Redpolls and Siskins, eating sunflower seeds that had blown off the deck. Whenever a STELLER'S JAY sounded an alarm, the little birds all flew up into the trees.

Sure enough, a male BRAMBLING up high, and the female near the ground, both seen at the same time. Fortunately, the male has a lot more black on its face, the female has a gentle brown and gray face. I was fortunate to get good photos of each. Now, I would love to find that Hoary Redpoll and the dashing little Zorro, the Siberian Accentor. There is always hope if the BRAMBLINGS are still around!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

PS Close encounter with a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK reported on Monday. The hawk swirled around K. B. as she was refilling her bird feeder in Camelot. It first attacked the birds at the feeder, then circled around her legs trying to capture one of the many Redpolls and Siskins feeding near her feet. It missed on both tries, but flew off a short distance to regroup. What an exciting few moments!

No comments:

Post a Comment