Sunday, April 6, 2014

Northern Harrier Hunts Blue-winged Teal at Salinas Grandes

On a March 22, 2014, visit to Salinas Grandes, Manfred Beinert had the unique thrill of watching a Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) hunt a Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors) in one of the large salt evaporation ponds. As the harrier patrolled about 2-3 meters over the water, the duck tried to hide by diving. Each time it resurfaced, the harrier attempted to grab the duck until the teal eventually was too tired to escape and the harrier succeeded in catching it. Once the harrier had a grip on the duck, it submerged it underwater, sitting atop it for more than two minutes until the duck drowned. Then, with some difficulty, the harrier carried the duck into a nearby mangrove tree.

In addition to the harrier, Manfred observed two species of falcon that were also hunting aquatic birds: Merlin (Falco columbarius) and Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus). All told, Manfred tallied 54 species for the day, a somewhat modest number during migration. Highlights included Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa), Clapper Rail (Rallus longirsotris) and several "Mangrove" Yellow Warblers (Setophaga petechia erithachorides).

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