Yesterday (Jan. 29), I did my now annual Winter Raptor Survey of the Black
Dirt Region and Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge. A couple of surprises
came in the forms of a Golden Eagle and roughly 10,000 Snow Geese. 


The Golden was seen toward the northern section of Onion Avenue. I got less
than great pictures, as in racing up the road, I could only sort of catch up
to it as it drifted away toward the east or northeast. Subsequent searching
of Celery Avenue and Indiana Road failed to relocate it. 


I only do one trip a year to the area, but to me it seems very unusual for
numbers of Snow Geese to be in the area in mid-winter. I only saw the geese
in flight, from a distance. Around 8:30, I saw flocks meandering back and
forth to the west of Pumpkin Swamp Road. This went on for at least 20
minutes, being viewed from off Route 6. A little while later, I saw the
activity from Indiana Road. At this point, there might have been a southward
drift of the flocks. It wasn't until hours later that I got close to the
river, along Celery Avenue. Lots of Canadas, but no Snows. A picture of the
immense flock (and other pictures) can be seen at my website , on the Recent Work page (click the Birds


The presence of one or two Rough-legged Hawks on Long Island this winter
gave me hope that a good number might be present in this favored area. But
unfortunately, barring a sudden change, you'll be able to count them on one
hand. Pumpkin Swamp and Indiana Roads are the best bets. A couple of dark
northern looking Red-tailed Hawks appear to be around, but I could not get
close enough to be completely sure. 


As I mentioned, I was doing a Winter Raptor Survey. If you have a more than
casual interest in raptors, it's an interesting way to enjoy them between
the migrations. There's an opportunity to study behavior and get pictures.
And you can provide good data. I'm sure there are many good areas throughout
New York State besides the Black Dirt, and I would encourage people to give
it a try over the next month. For more information, visit .



Steve Walter

Bayside, NY




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