Dear Steve/ NYSBIRDS,

Re: Canadian (or Northern) RTHA seen in the Black Dirt Region- there have been 
a few sightings reported.  I recently been reporting a Northern RTHA 
(Abietcola) at the Wallkill River NWR (Sussex County portion
of the Refuge) over the last few weeks.   I have seen this Northern RTHA cross 
over into the NY border on 1/19/18 (I have poor documentary photos of this hawk 
on this date in NY), but have attached a photo to this listserv
email of this same hawk seen in the NJ portion of the Liberty Loop for the 
prior day.  If you cannot view the photo, you can find it attached to my ebird 
report- Wallkill NWR Liberty Loop (Sussex) on 1/18/18.  This Abietcola
prefers to the southern portion of the Liberty Loop in Sussex, but can be seen 
occasionally crossing the border into Orange County, NY.  Very few Abietcolas 
have been seen and reported in the Black Dirt this season.

The winter passerines have been seen and reported, but with the snow melt, the 
mixed flocks have been moving around, and are harder to locate.  

Linda Scrima

Original Message-----

From: Steve Walter <>
Sent: Sun, Jan 28, 2018 10:53 am
Subject: [nysbirds-l] Black Dirt - Wallkill

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

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