The paths at Reifel Island Bird Sanctuary lead mostly between channels and ponds, with birds on both sides of us, but the from the outer stretch, the water is far away. From the path to the shore, the land is flat, an impassible (and out of bounds) barrier of brown, tall grasses and cattails, broken only by stumps and logs. At the far, blue end, we can see, often, flocks of geese or swans, just white specks in the distance. Boats go by, at times looking oddly as if they were sailing in the reeds. In between them and us, hawks patrol the wetlands, hunting.
|Google map, colorized. Blue = Georgia Strait, brown = hawk hunting grounds.|
Last week, we were watching a Harrier*, far enough out to be just a swooping speck. We still made the attempt to take photos; you never can tell. And while we watched, another hawk challenged the first one's ownership.
|Unidentified hawk, and Harrier, recognizable by the white patch on the upper rump.|
|Hawk #1 chased the intruder off to the edge . . .|
|. . . where she perched in a tree. (Juvenile Cooper's?)|
Hawk # 1 took a lower branch in the same tree. "My tree!" said Hawk # 2, and proceeded to attack. She took to the air, making figure 8s, up to the left, turn and dive, up again to the right, turn and dive.
|On the downward swing.|
|Caught her at the turn.|
Over and over, she repeated her attack, for over five minutes.
|At the outer tip of the 8. With a boat on the river to the north.|
In the end, one gave up. We couldn't tell which; all we saw was the tail end speeding out of the tree and away.
|Vanquished rival, at the tree tops on the lower center-left.|
And the winner went back to cruising the outer shoreline, looking for supper.
*At least, I think Hawk # 1 was the Harrier. At the time, we thought it was an osprey, but then I checked out our photos.
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