ROLL OUT THE RAPTORS—
EAGLES, PRAIRIE FALCONS BURROWING OWLS—
AND, CONDORS, OH MY!
Many of you know that driving the Santa Ana Valley Road, San Benito County is my "relaxation" drive from the post office to my home in Hollister. For the past two days, I've made that loop, sometimes including John Smith Road or Quien Sabe Road. Being mid-August, I was a bit surprised to see raptors already staking their positions for the coming fall. Plenty of GOLDEN EAGLES around!
The immature GOLDEN EAGLE, below has a full crop. Hunting is already starting to look good.
Next, I spot an immature BALD EAGLE, below.
These birds, along with a lot of TURKEY VULTURES were hanging around the "Eastern Phoebe Spot," if you know where that is. It is a labeled eBird location.
Next, an adult BALD EAGLE appears. Timing is everything. If you arrive just as the air is warming and the last bits of fog rise, it is possible to witness "lift off" of the raptors.
This PRAIRIE FALCON, below, has already staked its spot. Please do NOT harass this bird by making it fly repeatedly for "your" flight shots! The bird has to eat and rest. And, I know who you are. I'm watching you!
BURROWING OWLS nested this year in these rapidly disappearing grasslands.
Finally, toady, after seeing so many eagles and turkey vultures, I spotted this distant image of a raptor flying with flat wings, high in the sky, Humm, another eagle. Then, I look through my bins, and think, "Dang, what eagle IS this?" Then, "Oops, it is an adult CALIFORNIA CONDOR, all but in my backyard!"
I shot off a few frames, then looked at the images on my camera. But, when I looked up, again, the bird was nowhere in sight. That was that. Below, the "fingers" show. This condor was near the intersection of Santa Ana Valley and Quien Sabe Roads at 12:47 pm, today.
Scooting on down the road in disbelief, I found this adult GOLDEN EAGLE, drinking from a cattle water trough. It even tried to get in to take a bath. I was hoping that I wouldn't have to save it from drowning. Apparently, there is some sort of blocking boards, or something, to prevent that.
The RAPTORS OF SANTA ANA VALLEY ARE RETURNING.
Certainly, I did not see as many individuals at this time, as I hope to see as the fall and winter seasons progress. In fact, very few kestrels and red-tailed hawks and loggerhead shrikes are around. A few CASSIN'S and WESTERN KINGBIRDS are still hawking insects, though. Amazingly, I saw adult Cassin's Kingbirds feeding young in Tres Pinos town. Seems late for that.
I'll keep you posted regarding the raptor happenings.
Sorry for my poor quality images. All of them were made during the hottest part of the day and most of the raptors, including the condor, were at least a mile away.
San Benito County Birding