Awash in Rough-legged Hawks

rlh

I was surprised to see 4 different Rough-legged Hawks at the Great Swamp (in the measly 1/2 hour I had to spend there) on Saturday.  Curious to see if there were any at the Wallkill; I decided to take a run through the farm country in lower Orange county (NY) to see what was shakin’ before swinging by Oil City Road at sunset for the raptor show.

As I crawled along deserted snowy roads I found Rough-legged Hawks alright.  I was delighted to find 1 sitting in a tree overlooking the sod farm on Skinner Road.  Then pulling back onto Route 6, heading into Pine Island; I squeezed half off the road when I saw  both light and dark morphs on successive telephone poles.  While I sat there 2 more flew across the road to land in a copse of trees while 1  hovered over a field.  That’s 5.  5 + 1  Holy Cow.  I was on a roll.  Now that I knew they used telephone poles like Red-tailed Hawks, I scanned every hawk on every pole as I headed toward Oil City Road. I found another 1 sitting on a pole beside a pole with a Red-tailed Hawk that provided a lovely comparison.   Alas, there was no shoulder to pull off.  Spotting a dead-end road not far ahead, I thought to park on the edge of that and hike back for the hawks.  But as soon as I got out of the car, I glanced up and in the trees overhead was another Rough-legged Hawk.  He took off winging his way across the road toward some distant trees where I spotted yet another dark morph.  I shook my head, counting hawks on my fingers.

As I approached the Oil City Road parking lot, giddy from seeing all the arctic hawks, a Harrier flew across the road and the resident Red-tailed Hawk sat on a pole.  I spent the next hour standing in deep snow watching Harriers (4 and 1 gray ghost), 4 more Rough-legged Hawks, and the local Tail as they went about the end of their day.  The Rough-legged Hawks flew back and forth across the marsh occasionally stopping to hover in place.  I did not see any of them actually get anything.  Snow started to fall making visibility in the gathering dusk more and more difficult.  I finally left, covered in snow, without seeing the owls.

All in all, I had 13 Rough-legged Hawks in both morphs, 3 Red-tailed Hawks, 4 Harriers and 1 Kestrel.

Is it me, or do there seem to be more Rough-legged Hawks around this winter?

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4 Comments

Filed under Local schmocal

4 responses to “Awash in Rough-legged Hawks

  1. WOW!!! 13 Rough-legged Hawks? That’s fantastic. I was excited when I had 3 different individuals – 13 is just an embarrassment of riches. Nice!

  2. That might be true. I have certainly seen more RLHAs than I am used to.

  3. So many hawks in so little time. Sounds like it could be on a t-shirt. I love seeing so many, with seemingly little effort.

  4. They are beautiful. What fun!

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