After a full day of birding I drive up the Halls Hill road in Colchester to see what birds might be hanging around at this small pond. I am intimately acquainted with this pond and I have fond memories of ice skating here as a child. Now as an adult I often visit to view the sporadic wild life. The pond has been mostly frozen and silent all winter but I have hope that the ice has melted and maybe there will be something here tonight.
I pull into the parking lot and point my car towards the water. On a nearby rock a lone Canada Goose stands like a statue in the fading light. The goose and I are both silent and we listen and wait for what will happen next. Across the pond I spot a Red-tailed Hawk sitting alone on a branch in a tree. I scan the swamp and the trees beyond for herons, but see none. A robin flies up fluttering from the ground and perches on a small limb. In the background red-winged blackbirds trill and call. Then, I hear the raucous calls of crows coming from across the street.
Turning my head I see them coming like black shadows through the woods. A larger birds flies annoyed, but determined in front of them as they give chase. It swoops across the road on powerfull wings and towards the Red-tailed Hawk in the tree. I now see it is another Red-tailed Hawk and then I am witness to one of the Rites of Spring.
(Warning, the following photos show hawks engaged in mating behavior which might not be suitable for small children or sensitive readers.)
It was all over in less than 60 seconds. The crows seemed satisfied once the hawk was out of “their” woods I suppose, for they flew off and quit the chase before the male hawk mounted the female on the branch. The male hawk flew off and left the female shortly after I took that last picture! A lot of bird watching is nature watching, and a lot of nature watching is about being in the right place at the right time. I feel encouraged to know there will hopefully be a new generation of Red-tailed Hawks being raised somewhere around Lion’s Pond in Colchester, CT this summer. I hope this mating was successful and myself and others will always be able to observe this magnificent hawk in the skies. There were not a lot of birds at Lion’s Pond tonight, I only counted 6 species, but this Evening Encounter made up for that!