I did my now annual raptor photography trip yesterday to Orange County's Black Dirt region and to the Wallkill Refuge straddling New York and New Jersey. The effort now includes a count, which I enter into HMANA's (Hawk Migration Association of North America) winter raptor survey database. Yesterday's tally included 9 Rough-legged Hawks, all along Pumpkin Swamp Road and the fields straddling Route 6 south to Sidoti Lane (so none in the Wallkill (I don't cover Shawangunk)). Of the 25 Red-tailed Hawks tallied, all those seen well enough were typical Eastern birds. It's a small sample size, but does it suggest that few or no dark Canadian birds came down this year? I've not seen the one that wintered around Flushing Meadows in Queens the last two winters, either. We know Rough-legs are irruptive and variable in numbers. I'm not sure if anyone's thought about that in regard to Red-tails, but it might be something to think about.
The rest of the count: Black Vulture 3, Turkey Vulture 12, Northern Harrier 11, American Kestrel 2. I did see two Bald Eagles for the day - these seen on my way home. They were flying over Route 9 , in the vicinity of Croton Point. There didn't seem to be much ice in that area anymore, but a lot still just south of the Bear Mountain Bridge. It remains to be seen how that bodes for the upcoming Eaglefest. I did my eagle trip on January 20. Just at two stops - Verplanck and Charles Point - I counted around 75. Hopefully, a bunch will still be around. For those that are interested, I saw little in the way of grassland passerines in the black dirt area. Flocks of 3 and 4 Horned Larks were it. Perhaps the current lack of snow cover allowed them to spread out. Steve Walter Bayside, NY -- NYSbirds-L List Info: http://www.NortheastBirding.com/NYSbirdsWELCOME.htm http://www.NortheastBirding.com/NYSbirdsRULES.htm http://www.NortheastBirding.com/NYSbirdsSubscribeConfigurationLeave.htm ARCHIVES: 1) http://firstname.lastname@example.org/maillist.html 2) http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/NYSBirds-L 3) http://birding.aba.org/maillist/NY01 Please submit your observations to eBird: http://ebird.org/content/ebird/ --