With the hot dry conditions known as a "Santa Ana", the skies are clear and it's great weather to be outdoors. I decided to go and check out the Rios east trail at San Elijo Lagoon today.
I walked almost to the freeway observing all the construction work with the huge equipment and busy workers adding many more lanes to our freeway system. Not able to see many bird subjects I turned back heading towards the parking area. As I stood at the horse corral lookout , I caught sight of a large bird carrying something. It appeared to be a Red-tailed Hawk with prey.
I ran towards the area where I thought the hawk had landed hoping to get a few shots of the raptor and his prey. I am always curious about what kind of prey a predator has captured. As I come to an opening with a large dead tree, I found the Red-tailed Hawk panting and resting on one of the branches. Here are some shots of this young hawk as he perched on the snag.
He's perched on a large branch of a dead tree. He is panting due to the high heat and so am I. Red-tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis measures 19 inches long with a wingspan of 49 inches. This one appears to be a light juvenile.
Below are some shots of this beautiful young Red-tailed Hawk as he rests on the large snag. He lets me take some shots as he perches and cools down, still clutching his prey.
The prey appears to be a Ridgway's Rail formally known as the California Clapper Rail. Notice our Red-tailed Hawk doesn't have a red tail. Even among adults, not all do. But this one has the even brown tail stripes of a young hawk.
He must have consumed quite a bit of the rail. Look at his nice rounded crop.
In these shots you can see the dark "patagial" patches under the wings on the "leading edge" that identify it as a Red-tail, as well as the bright white breast with brown belly band below.
The prey is left in the pine tree. You can see the "rail" feet pointing up through the pine needles.
The young hawk flies back and circles his prey but leaves it in the pine tree as he flies south over the hill and disappears from view.
LOL, I guess he is saving the prey for a later snack. Time for me to head for home. What a great treat it was to see this young hawk. He captured a nice size meal today. He appears to be doing well and hope I will get to see him turn into a healthy adult.
Have a super great week everyone!