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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Hey, Hay

Nestling American Bittern

Bobolink, male

Northern Harrier, immature

Northern Harrier, adult male

Our farmer recently picked up the hay bales he made when cuting our hayfield in September. He is a busy man and was just getting around to it. We pondered what had taken place in the hayfields this year.

American Bitterns nested there and have for several years. We were privleged to see their babies, who pointed skyward to make themselves "invisible", the same tactic used by the adults.

We call our property Bobolink Farm because of the many Bobolinks who nest in the hayfield in spring and summer, then feed there before beginning their long migration to South America.

When the hay is cut in fall, the field attracts many raptors. Northern Harriers, parade through the fall, coursing over the hayfield looking for voles. We see American Kestrels perched on the hay bales hunting for crickets in the grass. Other raptors as well, such as Red-tailed Hawks, stop and look for a meal.

As the hay bales were carted away, we were a little sad to see them go; they had been so picturesque. We also realized that there went the habitat, temporarily, that had been important to so many birds, now neatly rolled up and on its way to what would be some very happy cows.

Photos © Lillian Stokes, 2006


tai haku said...

If they are anything like our European bitterns then that nestling image is a very rare shot! Not too mention a brilliant one.

Lillian and Don Stokes said...

Thanks Tai,

We were walking through our hayfield and just happened on the nest. The two nestling were about one foot tall and it was so cute to see them go into their sky-pointing "you can't see me" routine. I had my camera with my 1-400 zoom lens on it slung over my shoulder. I took a few photos and we quickly left the area. A magic moment.