mystery raptor over Yosemite Valley


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Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 14, 2007 - 11:38pm PT
out with Eric finishing up a project on Tuesday 11/13/07 and we were visited by these two mystery raptors...

all I had was my 28mm point-and-shoot Ricoh GR1...

....anyone have an idea? Debbie and I puzzled out a guess but maybe some one of you would have a better one. Here are the shots I got

hey Eric, we didn't get the identity right... I'm pretty sure...

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Nov 14, 2007 - 11:52pm PT
maybe we could identify them if you told us where you were on this mysterioso so called alleged "project"?



Sneaking up behind you...
Nov 15, 2007 - 12:00am PT
The Fabled Yosemite Chicken?

Nov 15, 2007 - 12:01am PT
falcon. The lower R pic especially looks like a Peregrine.

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 15, 2007 - 12:22am PT
not a falcon... the body is too chunky and the flight was hawk like, and the markings are not falcon like (too big for a Peregrine, not a Gyrfalcon)

don't know about a yosemite chicken, is that the one that got skinned?

the project, hmmm, all I can say is that if you were driving around and saw Eric's van, then you could have looked up and seen us all day...

more details later...
the Fet

Knackered climber
A bivy sack in the secret campground
Nov 15, 2007 - 12:33am PT
Red tail hawk?

On saturday a huge great horned owl came and landed about 20 feet away from us in El Cap Meadow. It watched us and stayed for a couple minutes then took off, really cool.
Ricardo Carlos

Trad climber
Off center, CO.
Nov 15, 2007 - 12:44am PT
How about a High Altitude Sea Gull similar to the Vedauwooos species ? I am sure you saw one or two . Often seen after something wide and desperate.

Gym climber
Fannie's Crack
Nov 15, 2007 - 12:56am PT
Not a red tail. Not with those colorations on the wings. Especially the last at right. I could only guess by elimination. Maybe later. Saw a golden eagle over my house today which is rare. We also see many different hawk species here at this time of year. I remember living right under a sharp butte in Jackson WY and one year the eagle migration was spectacular right on the ridge top. Every day I would just look up and see goldens and bald eagles migrating. Fun stuff you can see in migration season only. Curious to see if this is a strange phase hawk?

Edit: My closest guess is a peregrine. Funny some books say you can tell by it's large size (all I've seen seem small). These birds look like they have a healthy wingspan.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Nov 15, 2007 - 01:09am PT
Peregrinsis chickensis yageris skinntis, obviously.
John Moosie

Nov 15, 2007 - 01:15am PT
We have Swainson's hawks.

The picture on this page doesn't show it, but they have different coloring at different ages.

Still not certain. Colors look opposite.

Trad climber
Top of the Mountain Mun
Nov 15, 2007 - 01:23am PT
The wind was howling like a coyote while ice climbing in Lee Vining Canyon during a snow storm. Right at noon, as the weatherman predicted, the storm cleared and we had a spectacular blue sky day. As we climbed, a grouping of white birds formed a cross in the sky and held the formation for a very long time. Both of us were awe struck by the peculiar sight.

My partner I was climbing with that day, Colin Nell, was killed a few years later in Canada. When I think of Colin, I see that bird cross.

Social climber
Nov 15, 2007 - 01:42am PT
hey there, the fet... say, what a wonder, to see that great horned owl... i sure would have loved that, too!

my son and his buddy once rescued a great horned owl, while they were fishing... the nearly got in trouble, too... until the rescue folks realized they wouldnt have hurt it, just to bring it in, and get in trouble....

the next day, it was in the PAPER and the rescue assoc. took full credit for it... was very glad my son was not accused... it was a hugeeeeeee bird... just BEAUTIFUL!...
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 15, 2007 - 01:48am PT
wow... lots of responses!

definitely not a Redtail... the distinct marks on this bird is the single dark band on the tail feathers, you can see that the very ends of the tail feathers are white, also..

and the black wing tips...

given all this, we guessed Rough-legged, it is the time of year that they are migrating through NoCal from the Arctic to South America...

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 15, 2007 - 02:00am PT
no, they're the same pair in different flight patterns...
two different individuals of the same species.

Almost absolutely sure they are not Red Tails, Debbie says the banding on the tail is the key... she spent several years at the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory doing raptor migratory counts...

thought they were falcons at the time, but their flight was hawk like and they are much bigger than Peregrines, but not as large as a Red Tail
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 15, 2007 - 02:22am PT
got me... the flight configurations are different.. the bottom two pictures has them going along the cliff band into the wind... the top two they are out over the Valley... even Ravens can look like raptors in some flight configurations...

Munge... can't reveal the spot yet, but here is a big hint, Eric on the summit!


Social climber
The West
Nov 15, 2007 - 03:34am PT
9 pitches?

Not a red tail.

Rok or Valkyrie; watch your back...

Barcelona, Spain
Nov 15, 2007 - 04:26am PT
They look like peregrines wearing down vests, that took their flying lessons from seagulls. Seriously, though, peregrines do fan out their tails like what is seen in the top photos. Based on the bottom photos, I think that any buteo can be ruled out, I've never seen a buteo with pointed wing tips.

Half fast climber
the Gunks end of the country
Nov 15, 2007 - 07:04am PT
I am looking at the trailing edge of the wing tips of the photos. I am in the camp that says the top two and bottom two are different species.

But you took the pictures and claim that there are two different birds. (pair - so which pictures are of bird 1 and which are of bird 2). If 1 is top and 2 is bottom, I say different species.

My first impression was that the bottom looked more gull-like than peregrine.

Of course, some size info would certainly help. Peregrines and Golden Eagles are distinguishable from each other on that alone.

Nov 15, 2007 - 08:49am PT
Said van was at Reeds all day?
Ricardo Carlos

Trad climber
Off center, CO.
Nov 15, 2007 - 08:57am PT
Radical did you mean It's an immature Golden SEagulle.
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