Monday, November 4, 2013

MA - Franklin County Rough-leg - 11/04

Yesterday's plunge of Arctic air brought some welcome relief from the balmy southerlies we experienced on Saturday. The day began with a frigid 23 deg F at home in Gill and I would have to admit that the birds of the north were very much on my mind when I set off to check some local sites this morning. I ended up at Turner's Falls Airfield, very much a 'feast or famine' site, and usually famine in my experience. But this morning was a little different and after picking up 25 Horned Larks, 19 American Pipits, a Snow Bunting and a Lapland Longspur, I began to feel a little better about my choice of location.

American Pipit - Turner's Falls Airfield, Franklin Co., MA.
Single from a flock of 19, settled for just a few minutes in the tundra-like habitat around the public viewing area. 

After about forty minutes of scanning I noticed a raptor 'kiting' at the eastern end of the runway and, after some befuddlement with my scope, I soon realized it was a light morph Rough-legged Hawk. Rather than migrating through the site, the bird began hunting, mostly over the NE corner of airfield and even alighted on a small oak alongside the runway. After a sparring match with a Common Raven it seemed to drift south and I didn't see it again. But.......the habitat around the airfield looks ideal for Rough-legged Hawk and it could easily return.

Although I've seen a handful of Rough-legs in the Pioneer Valley, all of them have been in the Hadley/Northampton area in Hampshire County and I'm pretty sure this was my first in Franklin County. The bird wasn't close but I did get a few record shots before it drifted south.

Rough-legged Hawk and Common Raven - Turner's Falls, Franklin Co., MA.
Heavy crops from Canon Powershot G10.

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