Happy New Year!
Happy 2020 to you all!
I would like to welcome all of my new subscribers to this blog. I hope you will find it enjoyable and even a bit educational at times. If a subject of interest pops up, please feel free to join in on the conversation (at the bottom of the blog). I love hearing from fellow bird/nature/photography lovers!
I hope your holiday season was an enjoyable one. For me, the last couple of months have been a whirlwind; lots of time spent with friends and family, with a couple of small craft fairs in Maine thrown in for good measure - all of which kept me plenty busy and without much spare time for my photography. But it is always good to spend time with those you love - and I come into 2020 refreshed and with new exuberance!
Now on to the birds! This beautiful Light morph Rough-legged Hawk (light morph simply refers to the coloring) is one of the first pictures I took in the new year. While out roaming around looking for Owls to photograph over the weekend, we happened upon her. Actually - she happened upon us. She came soaring in from the distance and was kind enough to hover over a nearby field for several minutes - a couple of times dropping in quite close! Not often do I complain of having TML (too much lens) - but this was almost one of those times! What a treat it was to see her hovering effortlessly over the field and then, with just the slightest wing tip, would soar up into the clouds and then back down again to hover.
The identifying features that tell me this is a female as opposed to a male include the extensive belly band and the lighter chest (males have more of a streaked breast and less of the distinct belly band). Females and juveniles, on the other hand, can oftentimes be difficult to distinguish - but the key characteristic in juveniles within this species are the very distinctive white panels seen in the primaries. (This is not easily seen in this photograph, but I have several shots of the topside of this bird that show she is lacking those white panels.)
This beauty is a visitor from the arctic tundra, where they spend their summers catching lemmings and raising their young. Their name "Rough-legged" refers to the feathers on their legs that go all the way to their toes! (The Ferruginous Hawk and the Golden Eagle are the only other American raptors that have this characteristic.) During the winter you might be lucky enough to catch sight of a "Roughie" hovering over a marsh or pasture looking for dinner in much of the central and northern United States. So if you are out for a drive be on the lookout for this raptor. They might be perched on a fence post or utility pole...or even at the tippy-top of a slender tree! For many, the sighting might not be quite as exciting as spotting its Arctic neighbor, the Snowy Owl - but for me, any day spent watching this winter visitor is a fantastic day.