Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ferruginous Fortune

Yesterday was headed for a bust. The snow had left, and the temps were mild with a less significant breeze. I took my lunch at the Coal Creek Trail, where I had seen the Red-Tail circle overhead recently, and hoped that I would get a couple of good pics while I was out. What I saw were 14-16 Rock Pigeons and a lone Northern Flicker. I heard the constant howl of the wind that blew up out of nowhere and the roar from the highway. It was brutal. At one point I thought I heard a distinctive song from some bushes, but the wind tore it apart and made me unsure where it was coming from. Very frustrating.

Just before leaving I rechecked my CObirds email, and found to my surprise that a Ferruginous Hawk had been reported less than 6 blocks from my home! These hawks are one of my favorites. They are large, and essentially two-toned. From the back they are a mottled mix of rufous and brown, with a touch of white. From the front they are mostly white with a grayish head. Also, they are less common than Red-Tails or Eagles, as such I haven't seen one in the wild since I started keeping a list last October. The bust of a day had been averted!

I got to the reported location at about 5:20 last evening, and it was still light enough to see clearly, (finally). I knew what I was looking for, and even so I dismissed my first glance from a distance as a white plastic bag that had gotten caught up high in a cottonwood. One more careful look was all I needed to confirm that it was in fact the Ferruginous. Unfortunately when I got home I had to deal with some laptop issues, so those pictures are sitting unseen at home. I imagine that they will have suffered from the lower light, but hopefully I will have an update with the lighter front side of this great bird.

I knew that with an eastern exposure the Ferruginous would be well lit at sunrise, so I planned for a return visit on my way to work this morning. Spectacular, I love it when a day starts this well!

Buteo Regalis (royal hawk)

2009 Count: 58

Lifetime: 88

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