I went to Lost Lake this morning to cool off and to look for peeps and (hopefully) a few interesting warblers. I wasn't disappointed on either front. It was a delightful 45 degrees when I arrived just after 0600 and I immediately found 5 LEAST SANDPIPER, and a dozen immature SPOTTED SANDPIPER. They were foraging together in small flocks of 3-5 birds each.
An hour later, I located a juvenile American Kestrel. But when it left its low perch, circled back overhead and chased (something) on the ground near the tree line along the eastern edge of the lake bed, I said no it's not a kestrel. I found a Merlin at the lake last September, and I wondered at first if that was what I was looking at, but this bird was way too brown. I then realized that it must be a Prairie Falcon with unusual plumage. The heavy streaking below, lack of (deeply) contrasting axillaries & underwing-coverts, and its small size really threw me - I am guessing juvenile male. BUT as you will see from the comment at the end of this post - my first hunch was the correct one. I find it hard identifying even the easiest of birds this time of year when so many are in their juvenile plumage.
I was surprised to find a second (bath tub drain) in the lake. It is located 170 feet n.e. of what I call the original drain. The second drain actually has a small amount of water flowing through it into the great aquifer below. I would not be surprised if the lake goes completely dry before this summer season is over. The two creeks feeding the lake are both still flowing but who knows how long that will last.
LEAST SANDPIPER: They go first because they are what led me to the second drain
Just to cleanse the visual palate before taking up the topic of the identity of the small raptor,
a series that helped me feel a little better about the health of this lake.
Juvenile AMERICAN KESTREL:
HERMIT X TOWNSEND'S WARBLERs:
This might be THE END - for this little guy given the proximity of the falcon: