Monday, April 27, 2009

Harrier Maneuvers

We walked from the parking area to the end of Kinny Lake. We saw Yellow-Rumped Warblers, White-Crowned Sparrows, a Western Grebe, and American Coots. We watched a male Northern Harrier fly close to a cattail area with some small morsel in its talons. It was very intent on showing the gift to a potential mate. He continued to pass over the area. We never saw her, but he was trying to get her attention for several minutes. He finally flew over the rise and out of sight.

As I turned to scan to my left. Wow! did you see that? I turned to see one of the most spectacular things I have ever seen. (He must have heard birders were coming). A male Northern Harrier was putting on a show. The beautiful black wingtips and gray body so vivid against the sky. He was a striking athletic specimen. He would rise high in the air flying nearly vertically and then do a half turn and go over backwards- I would say a somersault. He repeated this over and over. Up, up, up, then a rapid half twist and fall, fall fall, upside down and swoop close to the earth. It was so graceful and controlled. I just stood there watching. I had my camera and never even thought of catching this on film. No video clip could have captured the moment, nor the feeling of awe. We saw this unusual display many times as he laced the sky. Every few minutes he worked his way across the horizon. For 30 minutes this image was burned into my memory. I can still picture it in my mind and it sends chills up my spine. A small thing perhaps, but not to me, for I may never see this scene again.

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