Saturday, December 15, 2007

December 15 - Sussex County

Today I made a brief tour of the Sussex County area targeting the two species of Rough-Legged Hawk and Northern Shrike.

First was stop along Oil City Road that leads to the Wallkill NWR Liberty Loop trail. Almost immediately I had a Rough-Legged Hawk(light-morph) on the New York State side of the road. I was able to get nice scope views of this bird.

Then I noticed another bird not too far away, and this bird provided for some nice flight views.
I spotted a Kestrel in flight crossing into New Jersey territory, and was then able to find 2 or 3 Rough-Legged Hawks on the NJ portion of the NWR.

Later I had beautiful look at another Rough-Legged Hawk and this one was a dark-morph.

Along the roads to the NWR there were copious amounts of White-Crowned Sparrows with a nice mixture of adults & juveniles. Other sparrows seen were American Tree, White-Throated, Song, Savannah, House, Chipping, Juncos and a possible Swamp Sparrow.

In the NY State part of the NWR I had some nice flocks of Horned Larks, who got very close when I stayed inside my car to use it as a blind. I could not locate and Longspurs, but I did see an American Pipit.

Another nice spectacle is the ink-dipped wings of the male Northern Harrier, aka Gray Ghost.

Other birds seen here were Kestrel and Eastern Bluebirds.

Next was a trip to Layton where a Northern Shrike has been wintering for 7-8 years consecutively that I know of. After a brief search, this bird too made my day easy, by showing itself in the bright sunshine and taking several short flights to show me all of its beautiful field marks.