serendipity: the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things 
not sought for, refers to the fairy tale characters who were always making 
discoveries through chance.

Cayugabirds-l  has carried two recent reports of serendipitous raptor 

A+ ratings:     Kevin McGowan posted photo-documentation of an immature Bald 
Eagle eating a rat observed near the game farm, an unprecedented observation. 
Diana Whiting posted intriguing photos of a fight between two adult Red-tailed 
Hawks (both in banders terminology being "after second year" birds) along 
Ledyard Rd. where a third bird seen moments earlier. Both instances involved 
going beyond just serendipity; putting oneself into the locations where the 
odds were better than average that some serendipitous wildlife event might 
occur, and even further, by giving attention to surrounding events, and by the 
Boy Scout prepardness of having camera gear at the ready and also the skill to 
use it.

B- rating:    I was coming home from a root canal job that cost $1160 (rest 
assured this is pre-insurance). Further, having fallen over the dog and into a 
wooden chair, which I knocked down onto the dog and, on which I landed while it 
was on the dog, which broke three of the dog's foot bones, which cost $341 so 
far (of course no insurance), and which led me to wrench my back, bruise my 
chest and scrape my side just two days earlier, I was not feeling good but was 
feeling sorry for myself, and being a little ahead of schedule, (well actually 
not having any schedule), I turned into the Mulholland Widlflower Trail parking 
space at Giles Street, which put me in a location where some serendipitous 
wildlife event might be observed. Now my wife and I buy an exorbitant amount of 
bird seed, sometimes 300 lb weekly throughout several winter months. This feeds 
chipmunks, red and gray squirrels, mice, Blue Jays, Northern Cardinals, 
Mourning Doves, and other raptor food items. This has led to hearing the 
piteous squeals of a dying prey as an accipiter plucks feathers on several 
occasions, a sound one is not likely to forget. Unfortunately, in the last two 
weeks my wife or I have scared an accipiter off a dying prey on two occasions 
thereby leaving the prey to die an even slower death and the hawk to go off to 
kill another bird or to starve. As I turned off WSKG, I heard the familiar 
dying squeals and looked out my window to try to locate the origin. So, I was 
paying attention and thereby, facilitating serendipity. Almost immediately a 
small accipiter flew up and landed nearly over the top of my car so that I had 
to bend forward and lower my head below the top of the steering wheel to see 
the hawk, which had no prey in its talons, almost over my head - sort of nice 
if my back hadn't been hurting. I was surprised to hear the continued squeals 
coming from the ground about 10 yards away. I located the area with stirring 
leaves, and watched as a Red-tailed Hawk flew up and landed on a fallen log 
with some bird in its talons, which it preceded to pluck, dismember, and eat. 
Unfortunately, and this is where Kevin and Diana leave me embarrassed, I didn't 
have any camera with me, but even worse, I didn't have any binoculars. Lacking 
any means to verify this story, my serendipitous moment rates only a B-. All I 
can do is provide a little word picture.

You can guess, as well as I, what happened before I arrived. I guess that the 
most likely event was that the sharpie made a kill and the red-tail stole it. 
Further happy beginnings are imaginable.




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