I ran my Roughleg route this morning. I started at the Shawangunk
Grasslands at 6:28AM and then hit eight stops in the Black Dirt Region.
The Shawangunk Grasslands were very quiet. In order of appearance, I
observed 3 SHORT-EARED OWLS (one of which dive-bombed a perched GHOW), 2
ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS (two light morphs), and 2 NORTHERN HARRIERS. You never
get the full Short-eared show here in the morning. I think most of them
slip into roost, when it's still too dark to see well. Early to mid-winter
Rough-legged Hawk counts here usually aren't too impressive. The Harrier
count was abysmal!
At Black Dirt I tallied (a mere) 4 NORTHERN HARRIERS, 16 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS
(eleven light, five dark), and 2 AMERICAN KESTRELS. Unfortunately for
wintering raptors, the composition of the landscape here changes winter to
winter. This year a lot of sod was rolled, so there is lots and lots of
bare dirt. Since we're dealing with thousands and thousands of acres here,
there's always enough fallow land and drainage ditches to support some
birds but my money is on the coastal marshes this winter...
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