Monday, February 08, 2010

February 7 - Storm King & Shawangunk

Some pre-Super Bowl birding today included a stop at Storm King Mountain, which is just a few miles north of the West Point Military Academy on New York State's Route 9W. Overlooking the nearly frozen Hudson River we enjoyed the scenery of rolling hills and craggy topped peaks.
After about a 90 minute wait we were treated to extended flight views of a wintering Golden Eagle. This is the first time I've seen this species in New York.
Credit: Mark Priest

Following the Eagle stop we next went to Shawangunk Grasslands. This former military airport in Ulster County's Galeville, New York is a fantastic spot in summer for Upland Sandpiper, Bobolink, Grasshopper Sparrow and the like. In winter it produces raptors that evidently feed on the rodent population. Our first raptor was the Rough-Legged Hawk. This arctic breeder comes south to our area in winter only. We saw the dark morph of this species.
Credit: Scott Weins

Next up was the primary purpose of visiting these grasslands, which was to see some Short-Eared Owls. We then waited much longer than we had anticipated, probably due to the high winds today, as the Owls finally showed just after 5:40 pm. I had two Owls in flight directly overhead of me which gave me nice looks at the underside of the wings. A few minutes later while walking back to my car I had more distant looks at an Owl in flight.
credit: Tam Stuart

The good news is that I got to see all of my target birds for today !