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 http://stevewalternature.com/ , on the Recent Work page (click the Birds tab). 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 https://www.hmana.org/winter-raptor-survey/ . 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/ --