Peregrine Falcons dive-bomb their prey at speeds reaching 300kmph, and somehow I managed to capture this immature bird as it sped past after scattering a small flock of teal.
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
1/1600, f/7.1, ISO 800
The birds on the little lake were swooped three times. The first time we didn’t know what had disturbed them, the second time we glimpsed the raptor as it rapidly disappeared into the distance. The third time was just after I’d taken the long lens from the tripod and was about to pack it in the car. Instead I swung it into the air and miraculously caught two shots of the falcon before it disappeared; I was thrilled to see this image identify the culprit so clearly and with a catch light too. Even with the shutter speed set at 1/1600th of a second it wasn’t fast enough to completely freeze the action. The bird was far away and this image is heavily cropped so the blur is not related to the aperture.
The young bird in the image lacks the white chin/throat/breast area of the adults and the streaks on its underparts run vertically while the streaks on adult birds are horizontal – I find that quite fascinating. Peregrines are about 43cm long and weigh about 750g, they are found in many areas across Australia but they are not common and are rarely seen in South Australia.
Peregrine Falcons generally catch their prey in the air. They soar high into the sky before tucking their wings to their sides and dive-bombing, stooping, towards their prey at incredible speeds. Their preferred diet is birds, which they catch in flight, though they also eat rabbits and other mammals that are active during the day. Apparently they sometimes work in pairs, with one swooping to scatter the birds into flight, while the second bird slams into an individual with its talons. The teal at Miniwalla seemed to understand that they were safer if they stayed as low as possible, they flurried about 20m each time.
The image above was taken just before sunrise, birds gradually appeared from nowhere until the water was dotted with ducks and dotterels. A friend and I sat beside each other near the water’s edge, gradually sinking into the tacky mud. There were numerous species at the lake, I’ll share more images in the coming weeks, including of the Red-kneed Dotterels that happily foraged at our feet.
Season of Shame Update
It’s been a big week in the world of duck shooting. The ramifications from the massacre at The Marshes have been impossible for the authorities to ignore. The Game Management Authority, and Field and Game Australia have both condemned the illegal shooting – it happens every year but this is the first time I’m aware of it being officially acknowledged.
The Coalition Against Duck Shooting compiled a video and stated, “Since opening weekend, we’ve tried to think of a way to caption this video … but for what you are about to see there really are no words. THIS is one of the worst things we’ve seen in 31 years of campaigning to end duck shooting. THIS is Victorian Labor sanctioned cruelty. It has to end. Please, Daniel Andrews.” I’ve had the honour of spending time with these guys at lakes and wetlands, they are inspirational, totally, awesomely inspirational.
I have heard of a handful of people who are not shooters but who are comfortable about the duck shooting season, maybe they think it’s about a farmer carefully taking aim and shooting a duck or two for Sunday dinner – maybe they would understand if they watch this video.
Warning: GRAPHIC IMAGES
Since opening weekend, we’ve tried to think of a way to caption this video we are now sharing with you all. But for what you are about to see — there really are no words.
THIS is one of the worst things we’ve seen in 31 years of campaigning to end duck shooting. THIS is Victorian Labor sanctioned cruelty. It has to end. Please, Daniel Andrews.
Warning: graphic images.
Posted by Coalition Against Duck Shooting on Wednesday, 29 March 2017
Also this week an excellent program about the duck shooting season was aired ABC TV’s 7:30 Report, it can be viewed here
With the current admissions from officials, this is a brilliant time to encourage others to contact our politicians. Emails can be brief, just a sentence urging that the season is unsustainable and cruel and should be banned. If you’d like to say more it can be easier to put it in point form. If there’s any way I can help, please let me know.
NB Some lirralirra posts take many hours to put together, for all kinds of reasons. This week I’d like to thank Fiona, Joy, Ken, David, EC and Liss for their help – friends like you keep me smiling.
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