Date: 11/17/17 5:50 am
From: <badgerboy...>
Subject: Re: Pond mountain RL Hawk and Short-eared Owl
First many thanks to Clifton Avery and the nongame arm of the NC WRC for
leading this series of bird walks at Pond Mountain. Its an incredible
place and not just for birding, located just across the valley from
Mount Rogers, the Grayson highlands and Whitetop Mountain across the VA
border.

The special things about the Rough-legged Hawks Wednesday were 1. that
there were two hawks seen together, which apparently is unprecedented in
the high country, and 2. that one was a dark morph, which also is
apparently the first around here. I can't emphasize enough how awesome
and close, and longterm views we had of these two birds interacting with
each other at close range, in very good lighting, doing their
characteristic "vertical hover" maneuver.

Also the Short-eared Owl sighting was very unexpected and therefore
exciting, coming in this very remote and rarely birded area. There is
only one report of this species in the northern mountains of NC before,
and that was about 40 years ago and had no firm date. Could this bird
and maybe others be overwintering here at Pond Mtn? It boggles the
imagination.

If anyone goes up to find these birds, the hawks were hanging around
mostly near the mountaintop by the old hangar/equipment shed, though
they moved around all over the low growth areas, and the owl was flushed
about a quarter mile before that just left of the main road near a
plowed/short grass area. Just a note of caution--this is hunting season
and there are usually active hunters there.

Guy McGrane, Deep Gap, NC


 
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