Chirps and Cheeps

A Photo Journal of My Birding Experiences & Observations

My birding blog site

  Roughies Are Back!

Published: November 16, 2023
Tags: General Observations, rough-legged hawk, rlha, cattaraugus, dunlin, dunl

Rough-legged Hawks have been seen around Western New York for a couple of weeks now.  The fact that they come down from the Arctic to spend the winter here makes our cold winters so much more fun!  I look forward to seeing them each year and, despite seeing one about a week ago, I felt the need for more.  My first view of the season wasn't very satisfying - just a quick flyover and I barely got off any photos.  I hoped today would bring better luck.

After about an hour of searching, I finally ended up finding two light morph juveniles soaring together over a farm field.  After they split up, I discovered one had flown down the road and was kiting over a muddy cornfield looking for rodents.  It persisted for quite awhile with no luck and eventually took a break and perched in a nearby tree - the sun casting a golden glow on him or her.  (While adults Rough-legs can be sexed, juveniles are much more difficult.)

In the photos, you might be able to see how their legs are covered in feathers.  This is how this hawk gets it name.  Those feathers help keep them warm up in the frigid Arctic air.  The nice, unseasonably warm temperatures here in Western New York today -  along with this great sighting made for a worthwhile day of birding!

On my way home, I stopped at a local lake to see if anything unusual had shown up.  I was pleased to see a Dunlin hanging out along the shore.  It's the tail end of their southward migration and I grabbed a quick few photos and left him to rest up for the rest of his trip...

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Both juveniles flying near one another

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One gave me a nice close-up

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Another nice flyby

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This one had some speed on!

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Kiting over the field

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It didn't have any luck as it hovered looking for a rodent...

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It finally gave up and took a short break before resuming

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