the opposite of a hawk watch | this count is one where the hawkwatchers are on the move and hawks -- more or less -- aren't. These "Winter Counts" are now conducted around Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Groundhog Day in two locations with similar open, flat terrain and of approx. the same square miles.
A little wintry mix on both counts... just enough for the season. While Vermont presented thin pickings again, I did get close enough to digiscope the Roughleg image below and that made the day! An impressive lake effect snow plume was visible all day, but stayed south of the New York census where there were plenty of raptors.
Lake Champlain Lake Plain VT
On Wednesday, December 22, 2004: A raptor survey of Bridport, Addison, and Panton, mostly west of Rt. 22A. Overcast with temps in the mid-30s, but an early round of light sleet and rain dampened the day.
16 Red-tailed Hawks [10 adults, 5 immatures, 1 undetermined]
12 Rough-legged Hawks [10 light, 2 dark; even split adults/immatures]
3 Northern Harriers [2 adult males, 1 immature male]
2 American Kestrels [male/female]
Hawk Food: 490 Snow Buntings, 25 Wild Turkeys, 24 Horned Larks, 12 Common Ravens, 2 Lapland Longspurs, 1 Great Blue Heron.
[right: Nice Christmas tree ornament: chestnut accents on nape and pronounced bib, plus orangey lores and feet make for a very seasonal adult male Roughleg. A fair share of Redtails have more bellyband than this bird.]
North Country NY
On Friday 12/24/04, the thirty-year plus old Christmas Eve Day raptor count west of Watertown NY -- Pt. Peninsula and surrounding countryside -- was conducted. The conditions varied from high overcast to partly cloudy to light lake effect snow with temps around 20F.
39 Rough-legged Hawks [30 light morph,7 dark, 2 undetermined; mostly immatures]
33 Red-tailed Hawks [29 adults, 0 immatures, 4 undetermined]
8 Northern Harriers [5 adult males, 1subadult female, 2 immatures]
4 American Kestrels [2 males, 2 females]
1 Northern Goshawk [sub-adult female]
1 Bald Eagle [juvenile]
And... 11 Short-eared Owls, plus 1 Northern Shrike.
Hawk food: 106 Wild Turkeys, 12 Horned Larks, 55 Snow Buntings, & 2 Common Ravens harrassing a Coyote.