A link to the sequence of photos and more, plus Mike’s account, follow. (Thanks, Mike!)
Spent 2 summer-like afternoons on Disposal Road and adjacent DeKorte earlier this month. Both days proved quite eventful!
On the first day, amid brisk southwest winds and hot temperatures, American Kestrels and Northern Harriers patrolled the Kingsland landfill along Disposal Road almost continuously. At the peak of the activity, 4 Kestrels and 3 Harriers were in view at the same time! A Red-tailed Hawk occasionally joined in the hunt, and an Osprey was seen flying west over the road carrying a fish near dusk.
The conclusion of a brief late afternoon shower delivered an awesome double-rainbow that, for several minutes, dominated the northern sky (try as I might, pics don’t do it justice). Raptor activity quieted down considerably after the rain, although 2 kestrels and a lone harrier briefly went back on the hunt before dark.
Saturday began gloomy, but the clouds evaporated by 2 p.m., and the summer vibe returned. I didn’t have more than 2 American Kestrels in view at once this day, but the Kingsland and Erie landfills were well-patrolled once again, with the kestrels occasionally circling up quite high to chase insect prey.
A pair of juvenile Northern Harriers took advantage of the thermals as well, soaring high over the Teal Pool before gliding back north to the Kingsland landfill. A walk down Saw Mill Creek trail revealed a Red-tail perched in a tree on the 1-E landfill, with 2 others of it’s kind perched on an electrical tower along the Shorebird Pool. \
A little while later, an Osprey on the lookout for dinner passed fairly low over Saw Mill trail, offering a wonderful close-up look. Also saw 2 Monarchs fluttering past the Carillon.
Just after 5 p.m., an unbanded juvenile Peregrine appeared on the first tower set on Saw Mill trail. After about 5 minutes or so preening and looking around, it flew west towards the Erie landfill and chased a Red-tailed Hawk off another tower set. After a few divebombs, both raptors disappeared into Harrier Meadow. Photog Roy Woodford joined me on the trail shortly afterward.
After a short wait, the Peregrine returned from Harrier Meadow, passing no more than 20 feet over us as it returned to the first tower set on the trail! It hung out for a bit, doing some preening and looking for it’s next target. That came in the form of a small group of Mallards flying low across the north end of the Teal Pool. The Peregrine launched after them, forcing a female Mallard down into a large puddle left from the outgoing tide!
For at least the next 10 minutes, Roy and I had front-row seats as the falcon divebombed the duck relentlessly, likely trying to flush the duck into the air for an attempted capture. The duck might’ve known that too, and stayed in the water, submerging when the falcon swooped on it.
At one point, the duck attempted to fly past the set of towers while the Peregrine was taking a breather, but the falcon drove it down into the remaining water again.
The duck gradually drifted past the tower set, with the falcon continuing it’s aerial assault. After taking another break, the falcon took to the sky once more. But instead of attacking the duck, it turned around and headed towards Harrier Meadow. Turns out the duck got some unintentional help from an unlikely source: a southbound Bald Eagle! The eagle was fairly high (couldn’t age it, bird was silhouetted), and the Peregrine gradually caught up to it, escorting it south past the Meadow. The 2 parted ways before reaching the 1-E landfill; the eagle heading east towards the Turnpike, the falcon diving into the Meadow.
At least 2 additional Peregrines were spotted afterward; one circling high over the Teal Pool and heading southwest (maybe a migrant? It is peak time for falcon migration.), the second Peregrine was hunting over the west end of Disposal Rd. by Schuyler Ave to close out the day.
Here’s a link to a Flickr gallery documenting the drama: