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Showing posts from October, 2014

Cooper's Hawk

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Sometimes the wildlife watches you.  This morning I hiked the dike at Wiley Slough in the Skagit River delta.  I went to try and catch Cedar Waxwings.  This time of year, they enjoy the ripe Pacific Crabapples that grow along the dike.  The Lesser Snow Geese have also returned to Fir Island.  Some shots of them would also be welcome.  Alas, there were lots of American Robins, but no Cedar Waxwings and no Snow Geese.  I headed back to the parking lot without a single photo.  Then, this small hawk flew right up to me.  He perched on a branch and took a good look as if to check me out.

This is a juvenile Cooper's Hawk(Accipiter cooperii).  It is one of the three Accipiters that occur locally.  They come in three sizes, small, medium and large.  The Northern Goshawk(A. gentilis) is the largest of the group.  The Cooper's is the medium sized bird, and the Sharp-shinned Hawk(A. striatus) is the smallest.


After getting a couple of photos, I continued on my way along the dike.  The b…

Got Him!  Belted Kingfisher

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For three years, I have been gunning for this Belted Kingfisher(Megaceryle alcyon).  Such as it is, I finally got a photo this morning.  This is a male.  Females have a rust colored band across the belly.  The characteristic white spot in front of the eye is clearly visible.

They are fairly common here wherever there is fresh or salt water.  They can hover in place over the water much like a hummingbird.  When they spot prey near the surface, they dive straight down and snatch it in that long bill.  Their favorite food is fish, but they also like frogs, tadpoles, insects and crayfish.  I usually hear them before I see them.  Their noisy ratcheting calls resemble the sound of a fishing reel.  They love to make that noise when they are flying or hovering.

The species name alcyon is a variation of halcyon.  In Greek mythology, this was a kingfisher that calmed the winter sea to lay its eggs in a floating nest.  The myth led to the use of the word to mean peace and calmness.  In fact, Ki…