Shawangunk Grasslands NWR 02-16-13

This Northern Harrier spent a lot of time near the blind I was in. I was clicking away and for the longest time the bird did not have any idea I was there.
This Northern Harrier spent a lot of time near the blind I was in. This might be my favorite photo of 2013 so far. NOHA at the Shawangunk Grasslands NWR 2-16-13.

Today was a memorable day of bird photography for me out at the Shawangunk Grasslands. We received a heavy dusting of snow the night before and the grasslands looked beautiful. The light was not exceptional, but the birds were flying pretty good, mostly Northern Harriers and Rough-legged Hawks. The highlight of the day for me was this Rough-legged Hawk that landed right next to the blind. The RLHAs are usually so aware of human presence and stay pretty far away so I was glad to get this photo:

Rough-legged Hawk at Shawangunk Grasslands 2-16-13.
Rough-legged Hawk at Shawangunk Grasslands 2-16-13.

The Northern Harriers seemed to be exceptionally acrobatic on this day:

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NOHA at the Shawangunk Grasslands 2-16-13.
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NOHA at the Shawangunk Grasslands NWR 2-16-13
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Look at the legs on this Marsh Hawk! NOHA all stretched out at the Shawangunk Grasslands NWR 2-16-13.
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NOHA going in for prey, Shawangunk Grasslands 2-16-13.
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Cruising by but keeping an eye on me – N. Harrier at Shawangunk Grasslands NWR 2-16-13.

And I finally got a shot of an adult male that I like pretty well:

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Gray Ghost out at the Shawangunk Grasslands 2-16-13.

There are plenty of Red-tailed Hawks out at the grasslands, but they seem to spend the majority of their time along the perimeter of the reserve. This one perched temporarily in the tree right behind the blind.

A Red-tailed Hawk leaves its perch
A Red-tailed Hawk leaves its perch right behind the blind. Shawangunk Grasslands NWR 2-16-13.

The Rough-legged Hawks were very active on this day. These two were mixing it up pretty good. One of them had a clump of grass that I assume contained some prey and the other wanted it pretty badly. They made their way across the grasslands chasing and tangling as they went.

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Two RLHA going at it pretty good at the grasslands 2-16-13
Here's one more of the two RLHAs. All of these photos were underexposed and/02 heavily backlit, so it took some post processing to get them to this point. They're not good photos, but it was interesting behavior to watch and document.
Here’s one more of the two RLHAs. All of these photos were underexposed and/or heavily backlit, so it took some post processing to get them to this point. They’re not good photos, but it was interesting behavior to watch and document.

And in case all of that was not exciting enough, at the end of the day a coyote made its way across the reserve…way out in the distance but still a joy to see. What a day!

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