An interesting afternoon at Brilyea. I arrived right as 4 O'clock Charlie
was making his rounds right on schedule. The rather inept juvenile Peregrine
was harassing the last dozen or so Yellowlegs (some Greaters, mostly
Lessers). I think he has a touch of ADD - which seems to be affecting his
hunting. He came in fast & low - perfect form - and correctly singled out
one bird to chase. The yellowlegs out-maneuvered him for a few seconds, but
then the falcon drove it toward the water, closing fast. As the yellowlegs
was about to be caught, it dove into and under the water as the falcon
overshot, performed a quick Immelman and went back for the bird, which took
another dive under the water. But rather than chase the victim as it took
off, he made quick chases of two others, and then decided to pursue a fourth
bird in a flat-out race up the creek. After 10 seconds of pursuit making no
gain on the yellowlegs, he broke off the chase and perched in a dead snag by
the parking lot. He sat for about 15 minutes and preened while other
yellowlegs flew by unmolested.
While he was resting, a female Harrier flew low over some other yellowlegs
with barely a reaction from them. It's interesting that they can distinguish
falcons as more of a danger than a Harrier. The falcon took off and climbed,
spiraling to quite an altitude, where I lost him. A few minutes later, the
yellowlegs emerged from the shoreline where they were hiding in the weeds.
It was funny watching them cocking their heads to one side to look into the
snag and the sky to make sure the falcon was gone. When they felt they were
safe, they too took off.
I took a walk on the far trail, crossing the field to the back of the E.
pond. On the way, a male Harrier and R-t Hawk were seen - both adults. While
I was at the pond, Charlie came in again chasing more yellowlegs without
success. The falcon landed in another snag and cleaned up some more. After
about a 10 minute rest, he took off after another bird with the same result,
and left the scene.
Port Kent, NY
"Enjoy every sandwich." W. Zevon