[CT Birds] Rough-legged Hawks; a personal best.

Mntncougar at aol.com Mntncougar at aol.com
Thu Dec 19 19:51:02 EST 2013

With the sun out and temperature up I came out of hibernation  and headed 
to the shore today. At Hammo I enjoyed the 2 (1 light, one dark  morph) 
Rough-legged Hawks, along with quite a few other birders. We were at the  site of 
the old platform at the end of  Willard's Island from roughly  10 to noon, 
and the birds were in front of us across the river. They  were at a fair 
distance but easily viewable with bins and even more so with a  scope. 
A couple of times we saw an interaction between a Rough-leg  and a Northern 
Harrier. It didn't appear to be harassment or fighting so  much as 
curiosity; they hovered together over the marsh at very close  quarters. there were 
Harriers all over the park today, a minimum of 6 but  probably more. I saw 
at least 4 at the east end and 2 more at the west end. 
I and a few others also saw at least 1, probably 2 Great  Horned Owls when 
leaving Willards. 1 perched in a bare tree on the edge of  the marsh and was 
harassed by a sub-adult gray ghost Harrier. 
In the nature center parking lot there was a flock of over 100  Horned 
Larks (I counted 97 from one spot, but I'm sure I couldn't see all of  them from 
there). Mixed in were at least 3 Lapland Longspurs - I had 3 in my  bins at 
one time as they seemed to huddle close together. I also had 2 more  
Longspurs at the gravel lot at the west end in a flock of about 60 birds.  
Interestingly, The sun was in my eyes there, so there could easily have been  more 
Longspurs. I did not see a single Snow Bunting  today.
I stayed too long at Hammo, but finally headed over to  Stratford. Didn't  
see too much overall but there was a dark morph  Rough-leg hovering over the 
marsh right next to the causeway south of the  airport. It actually went 
back and forth across the road and was there for at  least half an hour that I 
know of. Too bad you can't stop (or even slow down) on  that causeway.
I went over to Short Beach and had yet another Rough-leg, a  light morph, 
pointed out to me. It was sitting at the top of a tree at the  top of the 
dump pile, just inside the south fence. Unfortunately there was an  almost 
constant cacophony of shot gun blasts coming from that area, so I hope  that 
bird stayed low and got out of the area. Lots of ducks off the beach there,  
mostly Gadwall, Widgeons and  Blacks, plus a few Golden-eye,  along  with a 
lot of Canada Geese. I saw a cormorant which I believe was a Great  Cormorant, 
but not a good enough look to be sure.
My final stop was Birdseye Boat Launch, but nothing of note,  and the sun 
was setting as I left. Unfortunately I missed the reported Snowies  at both 
Hammo and Stratford today; birds I really wanted to see. I looked from  the 
causeway and Oak Bluff Ave and scoped the area from the north end of  the 
Long Beach parking lot, but came up empty. Oh well, hopefully another day. 
I'm quite sure that 4 Rough-legs in a day is a  personal best for me, and 
I'm certain that I never saw 2 different dark-morphs  the same day before.
2 Rough-legged Hawks, 1 light morph, 1 dark north of Willard's  Island
6 (or more) Northern Harriers
1 (or 2) Great Horned Owls
160 + Horned Larks 
5 (or more) Lapland Longspurs

1 Red-tailed Hawk
1 Dark-morph Rough-legged Hawk off the causeway south of the  airport
1 Light-morph Rough-legged Hawk at the dump by Short  Beach
Lots of waterfowl  

Don  Morgan

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