Stuart's Draft, VA 12/13/11

All photos are MaRTHall Faintich


On the Shenandoah Valley birding group site, Allen Larner had posted on December 3, 2011 that he had seen a Short-eared Owl on Gunthrie Road (route 652) just off of route 608 where he could pull off on a gravel road that led into the fields on the left. I thought that I would give it a try, and then head back to try to re-locate the Rough-legged Hawk on Hall School Road near Lipscomb Road where I had seen it on December 1, 2011.

As soon as I passed the gravel road on Guthrie Road, a small owl or raptor flew up a few feet off of the ground and then over a small hill. I could not find it again to see if it were the Short-eared Owl. I drove a long way down Guthrie, but all I saw were a few crows and a small flock of Killdeer.


Killdeer

I then headed over to Hall School and Lipscomb, but all I saw there were a few crows and a lot of Starlings. I turned down Lipscomb, and sure enough, on the field to the left just before the railroad tracks there was a Red-tailed Hawk sitting on top on a dead tree - precisely where I had seen one on December 3rd.


Red-tailed Hawk

When I got out of the car, I heard some loud squawking, and there was a pair of Red-tailed Hawks circling above the one on the tree. The hawk on the tree just kept looking up and enjoyed the show while I took lots of photos.


Red-tailed Hawk


Red-tailed Hawk


Red-tailed Hawk


Red-tailed Hawk


Red-tailed Hawk


Red-tailed Hawk

I then turned the next corner off of Hall School Road onto Patton Farm Road where I saw an American Kestrel on a power line. Probably the same one I saw there 12 days ago. The Kestrel made a dive down to the field and brought back a large insect for a snack.


American Kestrel

A minute later the Kestrel was buzzed by another bird that was just slightly larger than the Kestrel. I took a few photos of it as it passed by. When I looked at the shots on my camera screen, I saw that it was a Merlin!


Merlin


Merlin


Merlin

As I turned onto route 340 to head home, I saw another American Kestrel perched on a power line. Not sure if I saw a Short-eared Owl this morning, but one Merlin, two Kestrels, and three hawks made the drive over the mountain a worthwhile trip.



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