Wednesday was my last regular visit to Silver Sands State Park in my official capacity as a volunteer Piping Plover monitor for the year. No shorebirds nested here this year -- same as last year, unfortunately -- but I've had a lot of fun on my shore-side trips nonetheless. The many active creatures on Wednesday morning made for an awesome beach day to round out the season!
I have lots of things to share, but this hawk definitely stole the show:
I'm not totally confident in my juvenile hawk identification skills, but I'm about 95% sure this is a young Red-shouldered Hawk. (It had pale crescent-shaped patches on the tops of its wings, which is apparently a good indication of that species, and it was missing the dark leading edges under its wings that a Red-tailed Hawk usually has.) Anyway, a few seconds after I noticed the hawk in its tree, it flew down and flopped onto the ground:
I guess wings aren't very useful on the ground among woody stalks, but the hawk soon got its appendages under control. It seemed very interested in something at its feet:
After a brief tussle, the hawk was off into the air again, now with a meal in its talons:
Oh! It's a snake!
I caught up with the hawk again later, and by that time the snake was already half gone:
Poor snake. (I wonder what kind it was.) The hawk seemed happy with its prize, though.
A crow was hopping around and calling nearby, but the hawk didn't share, and the snake was gone pretty quickly anyway:
Well hunted, young hawk!
An American Kestrel -- a much smaller raptor -- was hunting in this part of the park as well:
These little predators are just too cute, with their big eyes and tiny beaks:
In another area of the park, dozens of Barn Swallows made a cool sight as they preened and chittered to each other, all lined up on electrical wires:
A Twelve-spotted Skimmer dragonfly looked especially striking with the sunlight shining through its stained-glass wings:
And of course, now that I've emphasized (in my last post) how unusual it is to see Clapper Rails in the open, I've seen these birds up close on each of my last three visits to the park. Well, I'm not complaining! I guess late summer is just a good time to see these cool, funky-looking birds:
The shore has definitely been a great place to visit this summer. And now that my volunteer duties are finished, I'm hoping there will be more time soon for some woods walks!