The Ones That Got Away

Today’s personal birding excursion was to Oil City Road in the Wallkill again for whatever shorebirds may be sifting through. The treat was watching an immature Peregrine Falcon chase a Greater Yellowlegs (“Greater Yellowlegs” is the name of a bird, believe it or not. There is also a “Lesser Yellowlegs” but we won’t go into that here) then arrowed across the fields and glided up to the telephone wires where the Rough-legged Hawks perched last winter.
A friendly photographer dressed in shorts and a camouflage shirt was already there with his super-whazooey Canon cannon lens. He could spot a sparrow on the far side of Ohio without binoculars. The tripod the camera was mounted on was outfitted with matching camouflage sleeves, sort of what you would put on your fox terrier in winter. The photographer, whose name I think was Herb, said the falcon had been there for a week. A Kestrel was hanging out on the other side of the road.

A young Cormorant fished in front of us and came up with a perch that Herb said was probably a big mistake. “Perch have sharp teeth, he admitted; “I know; they’ve bitten me a few times.”
The Cormorant flipped the fish to gulp it down head-first but partway on the trip down, the bird twisted its head and spat the fish out into the water, then quickly picked it up again before it could swim away.
“That perch just bit the corm in the throat,” Herb said. God, what it takes to get a meal.
The Cormorant was not giving up. It crushed the fish’s head in its serrated bill, then tried to spin it down its throat and be done with it. Again, the bird choked it out of its mouth and tossed it away, then turned and dipped its head in the water to drink several times in succession.

“That fish bit that Cormorant for sure,” Herb pointed out. “Give it up already.”
The Cormorant dove. I half expected to see it come up with the still fighting perch. The bird either couldn’t find the fish or thought better of it. It glanced over at Herb ogling through the giant lens, then glided away.

This entry was posted in Double-crested Cormorants, Greater Yellowlegs, perch, Peregrine Falcons. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Ones That Got Away

  1. Great pictures. You made me think of something that had never occurred to be before. Who would imagine a fish biting a bird on the way down. Geez, that's not a lot of fun when you're trying to eat something and it bites you back! Glad to see you've got lots of birding in lately.

  2. HA! I too have met Herb with his camo set-up. He is an interesting local guy. I hung out with him last winter when the Rough-legs were around. I loved your post. I didn't know that perch have teeth. The things ya learn.

  3. Annie says:

    I can't remember how I came across your blog, but I've just been reading through some of your entries (particularly ones on birdwatching and the like) and think I'd like to hear more 🙂 We don't have a lot of the animals you see in Australia, so it's interesting to me. I'm adding you to my google/blogger reader to see more, hope that's okay!

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