The Harrier returns

The harrier returns to our garden. No peace now for the smaller birds.

It has been gone for  the summer, must have been further north.

We got a horrible crash against our window, while reading the paper.  We looked out to see the blue jays scattering and heading for the thorn bush, which is good protection for small birds against predators.  One blue jay was stunned on the ground but stayed still.  We soon saw the cause: the harrier had returned and was looking for lunch.

It didn’t see the stunned one on the ground but tried to catch the others in the thorn bush but couldn’t get near enough.

There was another aerial chase but the birds got away, in spite of the amazing acrobatics from the harrier. It can turn very quickly for its size.  It is quite small for a hawk, the others are much bigger, so I think the blue jays could put up quite a fight.

I didn’t have time to change shutter speed so the images are a bit blurred but not too bad:

Northern Harrier 1
Northern Harrier 1
Northern Harrier 2
Northern Harrier 2
Northern Harrier in flight
Northern Harrier in flight

The flight is through a high bush cranberry – no thorns but still quite thick and difficult to fly through but the harrier manages it.

Hawk and Cardinals

The Northern Harrier was back in the garden today and the light was good enough for a few action shots this time.

Here it is, taking off from my little salute to Stonehenge.

Hawk takes off
Hawk takes off

It has to be very manoeuvrable to chase birds through the bushes. It’s a bit hard to make out but it is just doing a hard right turn around some twigs:

Through the bushes
Through the bushes
Hit the Brakes
Hit the Brakes

and then time to look elsewhere:

Flying away
Flying away

Once it had left, the smaller birds soon returned.  The cardinal pairs always stick close together, although usually not at the feeder at the same time. Quite often, one eats while the other keeps watch from a bush. First, two pictures of the female; not quite as bright as the male, who follows.

Female Cardinal profile
Female Cardinal profile
Female Cardinal
Female Cardinal

The little specks are not a dirty lens; it was starting to snow.  It got a little heavier when the male took its turn at the feeder, a few minutes later:

Male Cardinal
Male Cardinal