Stopping your car in front of the State Prison, scanning the area with binoculars and then taking photographs with a telephoto lens . . . is a whole new kind of stupid . . . but that’s what I did today to get this Rough-legged Hawk.
It’s been a very rewarding few days of birding . . . no super rarities but a bunch of rather difficult birds that I’d have to get at some point in the year . . . it’s good to get them early.
Yesterday morning while driving around and talking to Ingrid (my beautiful wife) on speaker I noticed what looked like Rusty Blackbirds in the air and I practically hung up on her . . . I’ll be lucky if I’m not divorced by the end of the year.
Anyway, I found the Rusties under a bird feeder . . . after sitting in front of the residence for 5 minutes taking long distance photos . . . the owner came out angry. Incredibly, I knew him and instead of shooting me he let me come down the driveway and photograph the birds (which had flown).
In the next hours I picked up first of the year sighting of Ring-necked Ducks, Greater Scaups, Bonaparte Gulls and American Wigeons . . . nothing terribly rare but birds I have to get.
I then headed to Belgrade, Maine for the second time in a week to try and get the Short-eared Owls that have been seen over a marsh/lake.
As in was getting dark a hawk landed in the trees above us . . . an immature Red-shouldered Hawk . . . a difficult must get.
A bunch of birders were scanning the marsh for the owls . . . and as it got darker and darker. . . the crowd go smaller and smaller. Soon there was just me and Josh Fecteau the Maine Big Year Record holder and his girlfriend (or wife).
At 4:36 as twilight began to dissipate all three of us saw the Owls at the same time and we watched them acrobatically play, hunt and then perch. An incredible thrill.
This morning I drove by the prison to see the Rough-legged Hawk and made a detour to pick up a raft of Barrow’s Goldeneyes.
Finally my cats (they were riding in the car) noticed a bird flying over the Dunkin Donuts in Bath . . . a Turkey Vulture. Not a rare bird . . . but very rare for January.