Biggest Monarch day yet – and two elusive hawks

I am just not fast enough on the draw to capture hawks. I spin around and look for them in the camera, a Rebel with a 300mm telephoto, and the auto-focus mechanism does me in. It has difficulty catching a single flying bird, so it keeps going in and out, obviously confuse dbyt he clear sky. So i will simply report that I saw a Marsh Hawk and we got a terrific look at a migrating Merlin falcon which came flying right down the road towards us as we walked past the Towers.

A week ago I was having the same trouble trying to photograph Monarchs – but my luck has changed and they’ve appeared in larger numbers now and I have more pictures than I can possibly use, but here are a few from today. We counted 33 today and that despite very windy conditions and despite the fact thathalf our walk was on the beach where you wouldn’t expect to see as many as you do inland – or at least I don’t expect to.

A pair of Monarchs just off the sandy paths outheast of the Towers. (Click for larger image.)

A pair of Monarchs just off the sandy paths outheast of the Towers. (Click for larger image.)

OK, there are three in this picture. Click the image to enlarge,t henlook carefully.

OK, there are three in this picture. Click the image to enlarge,t henlook carefully.(Yes, the two tot he right are the same ones as seen in the picture above.)

As we walked north on the road towards the parking lot we were joined by a Mockingbird . . .

Mockingbird.

Mockingbird.

. . . and a juvenile  Eastern Phobe who .kept ace with us, flitting ahead a few feet, stopping, waiting, then going ahead again. At one point he dove into the road and came up with a juicy insect.

Roadside snack!

Roadside snack!

When we crested the small hill just south of the parking lot we found there were several Phoebes. Friendly little guys that I assume are migrating, but I’m not at all sure.

Th is Eastern Phoebe posed for a Photo ID shot. Sibley notes the smudge on the side of the breast as a major field mark. (Click image for larger view.)

This Eastern Phoebe posed for a Photo ID shot. Sibley notes the smudge on the side of the breast as a major field mark. (Click image for larger view.)

And speaking of Photo IDs – don’t these Monarchs look splendid? During migration in other years I’ve seen some pretty worn specimens, but these just look like the picture of health. Wonder how they’ll look whent hey get to Mexico!

Click image for larger version.

Click image for larger version.

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