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Eyes to the Skies

Falcon Watch (4-8:30 pm) – Orion Bops a Young Red-tailed Hawk and Chases the River Ducks! – 8/31/12

By Rochester Falcon Watcher Carol P.

Oh, I am so looking forward to having three days off and being able to head downtown for some early morning Falcon Watches.  But in the meantime, I am very satisfied with tonight’s watch.  Orion was back home, after being a no show last night.  It was great to see the little guy.  He was so active, flying here and there and everywhere.  Bopping a young Red-tail Hawk (just once) and chasing the river ducks after dark.  This kind of stuff makes for an exciting watch.

The Watchers gathered this evening were Kathy O, Debbie H, Pat, Joyce, Jeanne, Larry O, Joe, Katie & Laura.  We had a lot of fun while watching Orion tonight.

I arrived downtown at 4:00 pm.  As I drove onto Broad St, in front of the Blue Cross Arena, I heard the very loud vocalization of a very young tiercel, from the top of the Times Square Bldg (TSB) at the base of the NE wing.  I immediately pulled my car over and parked in front of the arena.   A quick look at the TSB showed me that Beauty was sitting on the perch in front of the nest box. Now I knew to whom he was speaking.  Beauty kept looking up at her son sitting on the building above her.   Kathy O joined me.

At 4:10 pm, Beauty took off and took a long leisurely stoop over the river in front of the library, where we lost sight of her.  As soon as she left, Orion went silent.  Ten minutes later, Orion took off and followed in the same direction that Beauty had taken.  We watch him fly over the library and circle, as if he were looking for her.  He then continued to circle and flew higher and higher.  Orion ended up on the very top of the elevator shaft of the OCSR.

It wasn’t long after this that the 100’s of gulls on the river rose as one.  They were everywhere, screeching & swirling like white snow flakes on a blizzard’s wind.  Kathy and I had moved out to the Broad St Bridge (BSB) for a better view of the area.  In a way this movement of snow white birds, rising from the river on such a warm day was quite beautiful.  But, we knew there had to be a reason.  It wasn’t Orion, who remained on the OCSR bldg.  After searching the area, we had our answer.  A juvie Red-tailed Hawk was cruising the river and downtown area and the gulls didn’t like it.  Orion just watched, fascinated by the spectacle before him.  His eyes followed the flight of the young RTH as it flew over the B&L bldg and then headed south down the river.  Then he was off!

Oh, it was too much for a young tiercel to ignore!  We watched in amusement as Orion caught up to the soaring RTH quite easily, and gave him a little thump on his back.  That was it.  Nothing more.  The young hawk continued it’s flight and the young falcon flew back towards the downtown area.  We lost sight of Orion behind the Xerox Bldg.  I couldn’t help but be curious about his behavior towards the hawk.  Had he seen mom and dad attack the raptors passing through?  We know he joined in on Beauty’s attack of the 3rd falcon a couple weeks ago.  It was just interesting that he made contact only once and then broke it off.  I’m sure the RTH was very happy about this.  🙂

Debbie H joined us for awhile and Pat walked through on her way to her car.  These two ladies help to keep an eye on the falcons during the day when no Watchers are around, since they worked downtown.  Many thanks to them.

Joyce, Jeanne & Larry O joined Kathy and I.  It was 5:20 pm when two falcons came flying in from the downtown area.  We assumed that it was Orion and Beauty.  They both stooped, chasing each other, behind the OCSR.  Beauty ended up at the base of the SE wing on the TSB and Orion was on the 2nd IBeam down on the south side of OCSR, close to the elevator shaft.

Orion came off of the OCSR IBeam at 6:00 pm and approached the TSB, screaming.  He flew up to Beauty and knocked her off.  Orion then chased Beauty towards the downtown area, still screaming.  lol

Was Beauty starting to provide less food to Orion?  This might explain what we were seeing.  It was probably time for him to start learning to hunt on his own, which I personally believe he is very close to doing successfully.

During the next couple hours, the falcon activity slowed down.  Both Beauty and Orion were somewhere downtown, possibly on the Xerox bldg.  We could seen no flying or movement from them during this time.  Larry O decided to leave at 7:50 pm.  That is, of course, when Orion decided to make an appearance.  He came off of the east side of the Xerox building and flew towards us and over us, heading towards the OCSR.  He flew to the other side of the building and then back over us to the library.  For awhile, we watched him fly here and there, honing his flight skills.  As I and the other Watchers have said many times, he is an awesome flyer.  A joy to watch.  Again we lost sight of him.  It was starting to get dark and most of us had not eaten dinner yet, so at a little bit before 8:00 pm we decided to call it a night, with promises of returning early tomorrow morning. Joyce left and while Kathy O, Jeanne and I were packing our cars, our new Watcher friends Joe, Katie and Laura arrived.

We joined them and chatted for awhile as we watched the many river ducks fly up and over the Broad St Bridge.  This is something that happens after dark and it’s a lot of fun to watch.  Little did we know that this nightly show was going to be disrupted tonight.  We noticed a group of about five ducks head towards us and then veer off over the Blue Cross Arena.  That was different.  They were in panicked flight and we soon knew why.  Orion was right behind them, giving chase.  The ducks continued south and Orion broke off the chase and flew directly over us, very low.  Joe even asked if he was checking us out.  🙂  Orion flew up to Mercury and landed on the base of the statue.  We could barely see him there in the dark.

Twenty minutes later at 8:20 pm, Orion took off again and chased another group of ducks, this time heading north down the river.  He again ended the chase and flew towards the OCSR where we lost sight of him.  Well that was a very interesting end to our evening Falcon Watch!  It was too dark to see much of anything and we hoped that Orion had settled down for the night on the OCSR.  It was time to leave.

I and the other Watchers plan on getting out early tomorrow morning to watch the continuation of young Orion’s Pefa lessons.  Night everyone and remember to keep you eyes to the sky on this Labor Day Weekend!

Oh, and here is a link to an Shutterfly album of pics from tonight if you’re interested.  No sign on needed.  Enjoy!


Beauty at the Nest Box - 8/31/12Orion at the base of the NE wing of the TSB - 8/31/12A Very Busy Orion Tonite - 8/31/12

3 Responses to “Falcon Watch (4-8:30 pm) – Orion Bops a Young Red-tailed Hawk and Chases the River Ducks! – 8/31/12”

  1. Barb W. in L.A. Says:

    Great watch, photos and report, Carol! Interesting seeing the RTH and Pefa silhouettes side by side. Enjoy your weekend with the Falcons and the other Watchers.

  2. Ginny Says:

    What an exciting report Carol! Love the pics of Orion in flight, he is awesome!!

  3. Carol P. Says:

    Thanks gals! 🙂

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