Friday, May 13, 2011

May 13: Falcons!

     Was working at my desk about noon today when I glanced up and saw a dark, crow-sized-or-larger bird flying directly toward our house from the direction of Kosovo Stadium. The wingbeats and speed immediately ruled out crow. I dashed to the window for a better look muttering something to the effect of "What the heck is THAT!", getting there just in time to watch as a Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) powered its way overhead toward the top of the ridge and beyond. Funny! I've been in BiH now working on 5 months, and I hadn't seen any Peregrine's until two days ago. Now I've seen three.
    Later that evening, while my son practiced soccer with his team out in Ilidza, I checked out my favorite stretch of the Zeljeznica River in Butmir. I was pleased to flush a Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus), my first in the canton, and there were 2 Little Ringed Plovers (Charadrius dubius), and 2-3 Western Yellow Wagtails (Motacilla flava) foraging along the shore, but nothing else out of the ordinary. I was hoping to see or hear a Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus); at least one has been present for the past week, but no luck.
     Yesterday late morning-early afternoon when I visited the site, I had witnessed a movement of Red-footed Falcons (Falco vespertinus) and Hobbys (Falco subbuteo). So, this evening I casually kept an eye out skyward just is case. Sure enough, as I was walking back to the car, I picked up a group or five (2 females and 1 male Red-footeds, and 2 adult Hobbys, presumably a pair as the size difference in the two individuals suggested a male and female). They worked the skies upstream and downstream of the bridge that connects Butmir and Sokolovici. The light with the sun low in the W-NW and the mostly blue skies afforded me the best opportunity I've had to study the birds and to work on separating them by shape. Their presence further reinforces my conjecture that the river serves as a migrant corridor for these two species.

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