Date: 12/28/17 3:33 pm
From: Gabriel Mapel via va-bird <va-bird...>
Subject: [Va-bird] Rough-legged Hawk & more (Augusta/Staunton today)
Hi all, Vic Laubach and I had a good day of birding around Augusta County and Staunton today finding 62 species.  Our highlight bird was a light-morph Rough-legged Hawk at Bell's Lane at around 4:15pm.  It was seen flying in aerial combat with a Bald Eagle over the hill with the red barn on it if looking NW from the top of the hill (Short-eared Owl observation site.  There were 9 Short-eared Owls again tonight).  We then saw it again about 20 minutes later, viewing from the entrance to the Days Inn.  It was flying north and crossed Hwy 262 and perched in a tree briefly NW of the Bell's Lane/262 intersection.  It's anyone's guess how long it will stay around but it's definitely worth keeping an eye on this area.
For anyone interested, here's a detailed account of our day birding around Augusta County:
We started in Swoope just after sunrise.  Highlights in Swoope included: 1 N. Pintail (female with Mallard flock along Hewitt Rd), 5 Wild Turkeys, 4 GB Herons, 2 Harriers, pair of adult Bald Eagles, 4 Red-tailed Hawks, 2 Wilson's Snipe, 1 Hairy Woodpecker, 1 E. Phoebe, 10 Ravens, and 400 Horned Larks.  We then went down to Willow Lake in Rockbridge County where a small patch of open water held surprisingly few waterfowl (60 Canada Geese, 1 Hooded Merganser, 2 Ring-billed Gulls). 
Along Guthrie Road our highlight was a Merlin.  The Fishersville Quarry had open water and some waterfowl: 7 Gadwall, 15 Mallard, 3 Black Ducks, 3 GW Teal, 1 Redhead, 1 Bufflehead, 1 Ruddy Duck, 4 Coots, as well as a large flock of 450+ Canada Geese containing 1 Cackling Goose and an odd domestic Goose that looked surprisingly Greater White-fronted like at first sight.  However, at a closer look, it was definitely a domestic bird (larger and chunkier than Canadas). 
Along Chapel Hill Ln in the Weyers Cave Area we had 90 Pipits and a Savannah Sparrow.  Westview School Rd near Mount Sidney had 300 Horned Larks and 2 more Northern Harriers (including some misc. sightings while driving around the county we had a total of 6 Harriers today). 
Good Birding,Gabriel MapelNew Hope
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