Monday, January 17, 2011

More raptors!

On my way to work this morning, I managed to see a bunch of raptors near this farm by our local state correctional institute, Rockview State Prison. I even got pics:
Am I correct in saying that this is a Rough-legged Hawk? I'm amazed by how tiny his beak is.

I also caught the bird in flight:This hawk was unlike any I'd ever seen. I first thought it was a dark-morph Red-tailed, but it didn't have a red tail! I pulled over as best I could to get these photos, and luckily there was a bit of scrubby hillside to hide behind while I shot. Hawks are so twitchy; usually I pull my car over and by the time I grab the camera, the hawk has seen me and flown the coop. Today, I had a little better luck.

I also could've sworn I saw a Golden Eagle, but this is the only shot I got, and it's probably just a Rough-legged:I know it's awful, but here's the thing: I saw those little "windows" (like you get with a juvenile Golden) on the wings, both from below and above, and you can see there's clearly a white patch on the right wing of this bird. It also has the up-turned wingtips of a Golden, and the white stripe on the tail. He had a lighter brown on his nape, but also on the front of his neck too, and the wings are in more of a dihedral than my guide shows they should be for a Golden. Still....

This bird also did something that I thought only American Kestrels could do: it hovered in a fixed position in the air. It would hover for a few seconds, flap a bit and drop closer to the ground, then hover again, then flap and drop a bit again. It did it for probably a total of ten seconds. It was amazing! Of course, I was so busy being amazed that I didn't take pictures of that.

So all you raptor experts out there, please tell me - is there any way I saw a Golden Eagle this morning?
UPDATE: I'm told that hovering is a Rough-legged specialty, and that I most certainly saw and photographed a Rough-legged here. That's okay -- still a lifer!

Meanwhile, back to the Rough-leggeds. I also saw this bird:

I'm assuming this is a Rough-legged too, but it's obviously a different bird from the first one I showed you. Note the crazy neck/breast coloring, and the dark patches on the undersides of the wings in the flight photo. He looks like he's wearing a scarf.

One more raptor:I was looking at this one and thinking "Red-tailed belly band but look at that reddish streaking and how dark he is--rough-leg?," and just then he lifted himself into the air and flashed a Ron-Weasley-red tail, of which I (sadly) did not get a photo. I just never get tired of Red-taileds.

My bff Gretchen, who moved back to town Saturday -- YAY! -- and Laura and I went to try to see some Rough-leggeds and a Short-eared Owl that are supposed to be appearing almost nightly down by Huntingdon yesterday, but we only saw a young Northern Harrier hunting the grassy fields. No owl. I'm glad I ended up getting a Rough-legged though, for lifer number 289!


Rabbits' Guy said...

nice raptor shots! We have all 5 falcons winter here, but I hardly know an eagle form a red-tail!!!

Anonymous said...

You are correct in your ID of the Rough-legged Hawk.

dguzman said...

Rabbits' Guy--well, I'm sure you know the most important thing about raptors: they eat bunnies! Take care! I once took Niblet out into the garden so he could play around within the fenced veggies, but I was so paranoid--I watched the skies like, well, like a hawk!

Rick--thanks, and welcome to the bloggy!

John said...

Great sighting of the Rough-legged Hawks. It looks like both of your birds are dark-morphs. Regarding the Red-tailed Hawk, a lot of the Red-tails that migrate south are darker than the ones we usually see at this latitude.

dguzman said...

John--I tell you, I will never understand the whole dark/light morph thing. I saw a Red-tailed in Texas that was super light, but then there are dark ones down there too. It's confusing! I just look for the red tail.