Monday, March 16, 2009

Lynne and Art's Excellent Adventure

Spring weather finally made it to Minnesota this weekend and Art and I couldn't wait to get up to Hasty Brook. We left early Sunday morning with temps all ready in the thirties and a forecast of mid fifties. We left the interstate at Moose Lake and took the more scenic back roads the rest of the way. It might add a few minutes to the drive but we usually see something good to make it worth while. Sunday was no exception. Driving along the county road, woods on the right and an open field to the left, we spotted a Ruffed Grouse flying low out of the woods. Art slowed assuming it would continue across to the field but it stopped right ahead in our lane. As he swerved to avoid it we saw a Northern Goshawk punch out of the woods and swoop down on the grouse! Maybe it was the nearness of our car that made it pop back up into the air without the grouse. It flew up, made a turn and headed back for another try. By now Art had made a U-turn to get a better look (sound familiar Mary?) The Goshawk lost interest with us so close and flew off to the field. I got my bins on the grouse. It didn't appear injured but was still flattened on the blacktop. A car was approaching in that lane and it slowed and swerved to avoid hitting the bird. Since it didn't seem the grouse was going to move, Art got out of the car to shoo it into the woods. The poor thing really didn't want to move, probably still watching for the Goshawk. Clapping and waving his arms the grouse stayed hunkered down. Art finally had to nudge at it with his foot. The grouse took off like a shot and disappeared into the tall grass at the edge of the woods. I've only seen a Goshawk once before. A few years ago at Hasty Brook we watched in awe as a Goshawk dashed back and forth across our yard chasing a grouse. After the unsuccessful chase the hawk perched for a while nearby so we got wonderful looks at that gorgeous raptor.I don't have a picture of a Northern Goshawk but this month's issue of the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer has a great article about this raptor and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources's efforts to monitor their habitat and nesting sites.

We continued on our way, still shaking our heads over what we had just witnessed. Arriving at Hasty we parked at the end of the driveway, loaded up with our supplies and walked down the still snowy road to our campsite. The feeders were mostly empty but there was still quite a bit of seed on the ground. There was a gang of Black-capped Chickadees that never even paused in their feeding as we walked up. They flew about the empty feeders, scolding and chattering fearlessly as I filled them. We were immediately "greeted" by a pair of red squirrels. These cheeky little squirrels were NOT happy that we were near what they thought was their bounty. Pint-sized attitude.
The next birds to arrive to the full feeders were the Red-breasted Nuthatches. I counted seven of them at one time on and around the feeders. There was lots of "yank-yanking" and chasing about going on. By now I had set up a camp chair to watch and take pictures but I had to move because it seemed I was sitting in their favorite flight path. They would grab an oiler and fly off to eat or cache the seed. After ducking my head a few times at their approach I decided it would be wiser to move. They look just like a pointed dart flying straight at your face!
There were still plenty of Common Redpolls moving about. While out hiking I saw and heard several flocks flying overhead.

They swarmed the thistle feeders as soon as they were filled but there were at times at least 100 of them feeding on the ground. They seemed to especially like the oilers that were being uncovered as the snow melted. I wonder if the shells might have been softened, making them easier to open.

I heard the Redpolls singing more on Sunday and the males were definitely showing more of the beautiful raspberry color on their throats and chests.

I'm really going to miss the Redpolls when they leave for their northern breeding grounds. I'm not sure if it was just from the sun, but their caps seemed a bit iridescent.

It was a terrific day of birding. Here's the trip list:

Common Redpoll

Pine Siskin

Black-capped Chickadee

White-breasted Nuthatch

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Hairy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Common Raven

American Crow

Blue Jay

Canada Goose

Bald Eagle

Northern Goshawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Northern Harrier

Rough-legged Hawk *

The Rough-legged Hawk floated on the thermals overhead at Hasty for quite a while. This was the first time I'd spotted one on my own- and it's new to my Hasty Brook yard list!


Carolyn H. said...

Lynne, Great bird list! I didn't get redpolls this year, but I'm thick with siskins.

Carolyn H.

dguzman said...

WOW! I still haven't seen a "common" redpoll, but I'm hopeful. Thanks for the great pics!

That's some adventure you had with the grouse and the goshawk (another would-be lifer for me).

Red said...

That is quite the excellent adventure! LOL, far better than Bill & Ted's ;)

That's so interesting about the grouse... glad it didn't get squashed on the road. that's a sad way to go. Although it would end up being food for the turkey vultures :D

Anonymous said...

Sounds like fun Lynne and nice and clear photos.

NCmountainwoman said...

What an adventure indeed. I've seen a Goshawk only once and it was quite a sight. I'm glad you and Art managed to save the grouse at least for today.

Deb said...

What a great day Lynne! I haven't seen a goshawk in a long time, but your experience with the grouse and the goshawk sounded vaguely familiar. So I went back in my blog archives and yes, in 2007 I had a goshawk swoop in front of my car to catch a vole. I ruined that goshawk's dinner.

Blogs are so handy for remembering these things! :)

Lynne said...

Carolyn- We had Siskins all summer last year at Hasty Brook. I gues they'll breed down here when food conditions north are poor.

Delia- I think the Redpoll is my new favorite songbird. (TV is my FAVE!)

Heidi- Too funny about the TV. They're not back in northern Minnesota yet but I did read of a sighting in southern MN this morning.

Mike and Lizette- Thank you!

Carolyn- I wouldn't have felt bad if the Goshawk got the grouse. I just didn't want it to get squished by a car.

Deb- It was on 73 west of Moose Lake. I grinned all day about that!

Linda in Erie said...

Just awesome photos, Lynne! Those nuthatches are like 747 jets. My in-laws get those in and out of their feeders. They come and go so fast. I haven't seen a Goshawk but from the photo on the magazine it looks like one I'd love to see some day. You had quite the day. I do have to chuckle about Moose Lake. A great name for a Minnesotan lake.

Tina said...

Lynne, That is quite an adventure..watching that goshawk must have been amazing.. but I kinda feel sorry for that poor grouse. Too scared to move!!
100! I would love to see one! Love your backyard list..hasty sounds like quite a nice place!!Glad Spring is showing signs of moving into your area!!

MaineBirder said...

Excellent photos! Love the RB Nuthatch!

Kallen305 said...

100 Redpolls!!!???!!! I give up, seriously I do. I spent approx 14 hours of my winter looking solely for these goregeous little birds and you get 100 of them. Go figure! ;o)

Very interesting story about the Grouse. Poor thing must have been petrified to be paralyzed with fear in the middle of the road like that. I am glad there were some good samaritans out there to assist it. ;o)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful photos, Lynne. That was a great day, huh?
I only saw the redpolls here that one time.

Leedra said...

Wonderful birding weekend. You captured some awesome photos too!

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The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...


Some years ago, up by Lake Superior, I watched a goshawk chase and finally catch a grouse on the wing in a thick pine woods. It was an old patch of trees, they were big and tall, with not much greenery on them for the first 15—20 feet, though plenty of dead, interlacing limbs and stubs. The whole chase business took place smack in front of me at about the 10-foot level. A grouse came tearing in from my left, whirring, with the goshawk close behind. The grouse began changing directions, twisting and turning, diving, trying for all it was worth to shake off the pursuing goshawk…but in vain. That goshawk was like a heat-seeking missile. The pair went round and round for maybe a full minute, making sort of erratic loops and circles within a portion of that pine woods that wasn't more than 150 feet across. And finally the relentless goshawk simply caught up and nailed the grouse. My heart was with the grouse, but you had to admire the terrible efficiency of the goshawk.

Mary C said...

It's nice to know that spring has finally arrived for you at Hasty Brook. It sounds like a wonderful weekend, Lynne. Great photos, too.

Bird Girl said...

What a wonderful adventure! I would die to see that goshawk/grouse encounter - wow - wow -wow!
Your pictures are just amazing and the light was so working for you! Nice post, Lynne! Gotta love that Hasty Brook!

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Sounds like an exciting weekend.The pictures are fantastic.

Shellmo said...

How exciting to see that goshawk chase that grouse! Your redpoll photos were excellent - their caps do look like they are glowing!

Susan Gets Native said...

Northern Goshawk as the "Alpha Accipiter"...ain't that the truth!
I'm grinning from ear to ear picturing Art flapping his arms in the middle of the road doing the "Goose-The-Grouse-Get-Outta-Here Dance!".
My goodness, you take the best photos. You and Mary need to do a coffee table book, "Our Backyard Birds". Seriously.


Marsha said...

How I enjoyed this L & A excellent adventure! You really got to witness quite the sight on the road but I am happy the grouse came out safe :) I love the photos, your colors are amazing and the birdies beautiful!

Kelly said...

...such beautiful photos of the redpolls and the nuthatch, and that squirrel with the red tail is too darn cute for his own good!

Anonymous said...

Hi Lynne,
You DID have a great Sunday!
Awesome photos as usual.
Hap in New Hope

Vickie said...

Great photos, Lynne. What a fun place. Loved your goshawk story and glad you could give the grouse a bit of help.

Jayne said...

Wow, what a great day Lynne! So glad you all have that wonderful retreat and that each time you go, the birds welcome you back. :c)

troutbirder said...

Great post Lynne. I have never seen a goshawk but did enjoy the Volunteer article. As an aside, I think the editor there have done a wonderful job of diversifying the topics from just hunting and fishing stuff to all around articles of interest about nature in our beautiful state.

jalynn01 said...

So Lucky for you the Goshawk came along and you got to see it, and so Lucky for the Grouse that you were there to prevent it becoming a meal. Sometimes things just work out perfectly like that! I absolutely love the picture of the red-breasted Nuthatch posing on the hook..I've never seen a picture I liked better of this beautiful bird. I don't get them...darn!!

Montanagirl said...

Lynne - Great pictures, and what a list! You had a very good day, indeed!

Kathiesbirds said...

Wow Lynne, what a story about the grouse and goshawk! I think Marty Stouffer's Wild Amercia did a program with just that title! I absolutely love that photo of the nuthatch!

Owlman said...

Goshawk and Redpoll - awesome!

KGMom said...

Wow--you are right in the midst of teeming wildlife!
Love that red squirrel--great shot.

Mary said...

Linne - I can't get over your fabulous photos! Redpolls are foreign here and I can see why you love them so. What a bird list. I love Hasty Brook.


Mary said...

Linne - I can't get over your fabulous photos! Redpolls are foreign here and I can see why you love them so. What a bird list. I love Hasty Brook.


The Early Birder said...

Awesome photos as usual Lynne. Close encounter with Grouse AND Goshawk - Wow!
Loved the RB Nuthatch, a handsome bird. FAB

Larry said...

Great photos and nice account of your Goshawk sighting.I think I may have caughta glimpse of one once darting though a forest.It was grey for sure but I'm not certain of what I saw.

ivars krafts said...

Lynne, this has got to be your best photography ever in a single post! It is only matched by your great writing. Keep up the good work and keep posting!

Ruth said...

What super photos! I thought the birds were going to fly right out of the computer screen. (cute squirrel too)

RuthieJ said...

What a great day you and Art had! Your pictures are fabulous (as usual). I've seen the Northern Goshawk only 1 time--just west of Moose Lake while we were searching for Great Gray Owls in 2005. It was quite a gorgeous raptor!

Eve said...

I'm late on getting to this post Lynne. What a great list for the weekend. Your pictures are beautiful. The Goshawk story came too close to home for me. That's who tried to eat my Gimpy!

I'm so glad the grouse got away.

Mel said...

Hola Lynne,
What a list!! So many lifers for me ;)
I haven't been able to go birding these past couple of weeks; too much work at the office, the ghost of the unfinished thesis, and the excitement of the long-time-missed-sweetheart!
I haven't been able to visit blogs either, which makes me a bit grumpy too.
I'll let you and 'the flock' know how it all goes tomorrow... I'm soooo nervous!!!

dAwN said...

Howdee Lynn,
What a great retreat you have there at Hasty Brook.
When you say it a tent?
I would love to see Redpolls your photos of them!

NCmountainwoman said...

Check out Steve's blog for some great Turkey Vulture photos.

mon@rch said...

How wonderful and I love seeing all these all these stunning photos! The Red Squirrel is my favorite!

Anonymous said...

As usual, great shots. It looks like a successful outing.

Q said...

Dear Lynne,
You had a fantastic Hasty Brook adventure! I think a coffee table book would be excellent...I can almost see it! The red polls are beautiful. I have only seen one in my backyard.
The goshawk is awsome...
I was wondering if every state has a conservation department....I enjoy our monthly magazine too.
Thank you for fantastic photographs.

Anonymous said...

I love it ! Very creative ! That's actually really cool Thanks.