Observation date: 19 January 2016
Throngs of birders, twitchers and photographers were on hand for the twentieth Annual Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival which takes place every year on the Martin Luther King holiday.
Along with the high surf crashing against the high jetty making spectacular photography, the peregrine falcons of the south side put on a show that not all got to see. The timing was the key.
During intermittent rain showers, we were set up at 7:55 AM.
At 8:35AM, the tiercel made a spectacular kill for the few that were there at that time to see. He launched off his highest perch, the throne, wings rapidly beating while in a 45 degree stoop down to the wave tops, then leveled out to one foot above the deck in a high speed glide, no longer beating his wings.
Flocks of shore birds at waters’ edge are just a millisecond away. Then bang! It’s all over for a western sandpiper. This complete scenario from stoop and then back to the rock took no more than thirty seconds.
Bird groups, later in the day, saw male and female peregrines copulate twice. Also, high speed courtship flights by the tiercel. These flights are what causes all the “ohs and ahs” among the spectators.
Back down to earth in the parking lot, others are being entertained by two live birds of prey. A Great Horned Owl and a Harris Hawk. Carl and Bebot Lea had just returned from a morning hunt with the hawk.
They sat with us for hours while the public got a close up look of these magnificent birds.
Happy trails, Bob
Hooch, the Great Horned Owl, is an imprinted male, a rehab bird that does not hunt. Previously, it had imprinted on the human that raised it before Carl and Bebot acquired it. This frequently happens when a bird is kept by a the person who found it as a nestling and doesn’t take it to a rehabilitation center where they know how to raise a bird so that it can be released into the wild with all the skills it needs to survive.