2009-06-18

fyfer: (Default)
2009-06-18 04:51 pm

raptors

I spent the past few days canoeing down the Green River in Utah, a phenomenal river flowing calmly through deep canyons into Canyonlands National Park. The trip had many highlights, but I want to share this one before I forget.

We'd made camp up on a high bank away from the mosquitoes, and as we set up our kitchen area and had some wine and cheese and crackers, someone looked up and said, "A golden eagle!" I assumed at first it was a turkey vulture; we'd seen a few that afternoon. But it was definitely an eagle, soaring high on thermals. We got out the binoculars and took a closer look.

The eagle circled around to the cliff in back of our campsite. Then another bird appeared in the air above it and shot downward, sleek and small compared to the eagle. It was a peregrine falcon, and it must have had a nest on our cliff. It rose up above the eagle and then divebombed it again and again, turning and punching as it passed the eagle. The eagle spun out of its way and fought back, but eventually it decided the other side of the canyon was more hospitable and left the peregrine to its nest.

Peregrines are my favorite birds, but I'd never seen one in the wild before, only nesting on skyscrapers. I don't think I'd seen a golden eagle before, either. The combination was phenomenal.