Moonrise and the Unknown Raptor

The sun rose and burned through the clouds lingering after the rainstorm.  We had suffered no hail damage and the benefit of the rain is already visible on this near desert-scape.  Dog, Kat and I scouted around the east side of our campsite —  there are no campsites at all east of us.  We found rabbit scat, fresh deer tracks, missed all the cactus thorns, and flushed a pair of chukars.  The weather was perfect – 60 degrees, clearing, with a ten mph wind from the south.   If there were fly fishing on the river we’d have the setting of Hemingway short story.  It’s that wild and beautiful here.


After breakfast we set up our chairs in the shade of our shelter to look for the western birds we have never had opportunity to see.  After checking Peterson’s Field Guide maps, many of the new species we hope to see in northern Wyoming are raptors.  Among them are golden eagles, ferruginous and Swainson’s hawks, peregrine falcons, northern harriers, prairie falcons, sharp-tailed grouse, and gray partridge.


I may have seen a bald eagle.  We saw the chukars again.  But it was a slow day for birding, until Kat saw some kind of hawk hit a rat in the field north of us.  I saw the bird flying the rat to his dinner table at the top of a creosote utility pole.  We watched him dine through binoculars.  This is a bird we have never seen!  Peterson’s is inconclusive:  I think it looks like a northern goshawk (the size is perfect, color very close, but Peterson’s characterizes it as “scarce”).  Kat says it’s a peregrine falcon (coloring perfect, size might be just a bit small, Peterson’s says “uncommon”, which means there’s more of them than of something “scarce”.)   She stalked her way within camera range of the pole and got some good shots.  We still can’t decide.  Do any of our loyal readers know?  Do any of our disloyal readers know?  If so, please post a comment.

bird  good closeup two

another good closeup

Tonight the moon will be full, rising over a big hill, and full moons always rise right after sunset.  Kat took a few of her sunset pictures, and then caught these spectacular ones of moonrise.  What a place this is!

horseshoe sunset

moon 1

moon 2

moon 3


moon close better

2 thoughts on “Moonrise and the Unknown Raptor

  1. Your raptor looks like an Osprey. By the way, I enjoy reading your blog and following your journey. Stay safe & happy trails!


    1. A park ranger agrees with you. I agree that it LOOKS more like an osprey than anything else, but I can’t figure how a bird that plunges feet first into water could do the same onto rocky ground to catch a rat … seems orthopedically hazardous.

      Thank for reading, and for your comment.



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