So there I was . . .
Oops, wrong story.
Sunday evening, after spending far too much time with my rump in a chair working on lessons and grading, I decided to take a walk. Thick clouds smothered the sun and the windchill had not gotten above 35F all day. In short, it was perfect weather for a redhead to go strolling. The soft light brought out the pink and purple colors of the roses and other flowers in the yard, and I stopped to smell the flowers, and gave a few snails flying lessons. (I can underhand toss a good-sized snail well into the middle of the street from the garage end of the driveway, but I can’t get a softball anywhere near home plate from the mound. Oh well.)
So I headed out, intending to eventually get to the park and come back. After a few blocks, I noticed a large number of birds hanging around 50-100 feet up, ahead of me, more or less northbound. We have buzzards in the area and that’s what I thought they were, until I got closer and saw that they had raptor wings, curving, with clean pointed wingtips and were smaller than the buzzards.
The birds wouldn’t stay still for long, but it seemed to be around twenty of whatever raptor they were. They coasted on the wind, gliding, flapping, almost hovering against the strong north wind in a blue-gray sky. They seemed bound for the park and I followed. Indeed, they settled in two of the larger trees. Should I try to get closer? Well, first a grackle buzzed me (as in three inches from my nose, the jerk) and then sanity returned. I’ve been buzzed by harriers (marsh hawks) and something about irritating that many angry birds with very sharp talons seemed unwise. But I still had no idea what kind of hawk I was seeing, or what had drawn them together.
I got one answer when I came around the park, finishing my lap as a hawk took off after a grackle. At one point the bird soared up, wings spread, and I caught a glimpse of dark shoulders, white or light grey wings, and dark tips with a dark tail. The bird was still small, not too much longer than the grackle, but sturdier and meaner. I was seeing a group of Mississippi kites.
I suspect the cold weather to the north (snow in Oklahoma) has kept them south longer than usual, and they have been waiting to scatter out. The area around Redquarters has some rabbits, lots of small birds, and squirrels. And small yappy dogs, but the kites are too small to take those on (alas).