Falcon!  The Merlin.
 
This small raptor is slightly bigger than our American kestrel.
I am used to seeing a few merlins each winter at Jordan Lake.
But, oh my, this morning at the dam, a merlin came in and made my day shine!!!
Note that in the last picture he was quickly leaving me and my camera behind.
Like all falcons the merlin is a speedy raptor!!
 
 
 

First Nest
 
The lake level was so high that I could not see the nest.
The sky was sunny, but I was not because I wanted to see the chicks branching.
I had turned around to go back to my truck when a shadow blew past me.
Not a sound had been made in the cove. Yet, here was Kate at a high speed heading for the nest.
She didn’t have a fish.  She did look angry.
Into the branches around the nest Kate disappeared.
No sounds. I waited another 30 minutes then had to leave, wondering why the dash to the nest.
 
 

 
First Nest
 
The pine pollen has not abated and the lake level has risen.
Both situations make watching the nests a difficult task.
 
Oh what a determined face as Caramel contemplates maybe making a try for the other side of the nest.
 
Uh, maybe I ought to think some more about heading across the nest.
 
 
I wonder if that human down there has noticed me.
 
As if you haven’t seen enough pollen this week … this is what the lake looked like this morning!
 

Drat!!! Pollen!!! I found Caramel on a branch above the rim of the nest.
This activity is called branching and will lead to jumps and flights to higher limbs directly above the nest.
The branching can go on for up to about 2 weeks or last 2 days; depends on how precocious the chick is.
The next step is flight from the safety of the nest: fledgling.
I just wish the pollen hadn’t obscured the first photo.  Sigh.
 
Caramel is standing of a branch that is unseen.  He seems a little startled that he is above the nest.
 
 
Okay.  Now to get back to the safety of the nest. Jump and flap.
 
 
Look at me! I have landed!  I am safe.
 
 
Wow!  I really did it.  Branched a whole two feet or so from branch to the nest.  Oh, wow!