Wednesday, January 28, 2009

An American Kestrel in Benicia

A couple days ago, taking advantage of the gorgeous summer-like weather, Mike and I hiked up into the hills above Benicia. It was quite a climb to the top but worth it for the view:

Looking out over Lake Herman to the Suisun Bay and the reserve fleet, you can just see a few of the retired military ships in the upper right part of the photo. Beyond them, across the Suisun Bay, is Pittsburgh, just east of Concord.

In another direction:

Looking southwest, past Vallejo to the Alfred Zampa Memorial Bridge over the Carquinez Strait. C&H is the long low building to the left of the bridge, and above C&H you can see Highway I-80 snaking up into the hills, heading toward San Francisco.

But the best view we saw on that hike was this guy:

We first saw him hovering over the grassy field hunting for his dinner. Amazingly, he landed on this fence post, within zoom range of my little camera. Even more amazingly, I managed to hold my breath, and hold the camera still enough, to get this clear shot.

Mike thought he was a peregrine falcon; I was voting for red-tailed hawk.

We were both wrong.

Back home I found our predator in The Audubon Society Pocket Guide to Familiar Birds of North America. He's an American Kestrel. The two black sideburns on each side of his face made the identification easy. Here's another photo:
Isn't he amazing? He's the smallest north american falcon. To think, just a short hike from our home, we can see wildlife like this thriving in suburbia.

I hope no one ever develops that open land.


Mary Bradley said...

Hi Deb!
Great pictures...all of them! Makes me "homesick" for Benicia. Hope to make it that way soon.

Queenly Things said...

I have taken out my maps to really understand the lay of the land up there but these pictures just put it right into perspective. It is a beautiful place and filling up more than we'd like. I hope somehow the influx of new buildings will be staved off.

superior said...
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