Rockfish Valley Trail 12/15/12

All photos are Marshall Faintich

I wanted to get some better (closer) photos of the Gray Ghost - the adult male Northern Harrier, or in this case, a sub-adult male. I had seen it for the past two days flying low over the fields on the east side of Reids Creek at the north end of the Glenthorne Loop trail, and both days between 10:00 and 11:00 in the morning.

I arrived at the trail around 10:00, parked near the first wooden bridge, and then walked about 400 yards, first to the Elk Hill Baptist Church, and then up the road to the east from there. I waited for about 15 minutes, watching the tall grasses, but there wasn't a stir, so I decided to walk back and try looking on the west side of Reids Creek. Maybe it had gone.

After I had walked about halfway back to the first wooden bridge, I turned around when I saw movement from the corner of my eye. It was the Gray Ghost - it had flown from where I had been, and was hugging the base of the mountain on the east side of route 627, and it flew to the far south end of the Glenthorne Loop trail.


Northern Harrier


Northern Harrier


Northern Harrier

Although I got a few photos of it, I was too far away to get any good shots. I decided to walk to the south end of the trail to see if I could find it. No luck. I did disturb a Red-shouldered Hawk perched in a tree along the road.


Red-shouldered Hawk

I crossed the second wooden bridge and hiked back on the west side of Reids Creek, hoping to see the Gray Ghost flying over one of those fields. Again, no luck. But when I turned the corner of the bog area, I saw a Red-tailed Hawk perched high in a tree along the downstream trail, and it was soon joined by another hawk.


Red-tailed Hawk


Red-tailed Hawks


Red-tailed Hawks

When I crossed back over the first wooden bridge to get to my car, I saw the Gray Ghost once again at the north end of the trail. It was heading a bit in my direction, and then turned around, flew down the road, passed Flying Eagle Court (wrong bird), and then turned down what I thought was Graywing Lane (much more appropriate road name), and headed down the grassy air strip. Checking the map a little while ago, I saw that it was actually Graywind Lane, but it will always be Graywing Lane to me. Anyway, I walked there, but could not find the Harrier, went back to my car, and then drove down the lane looking for it. All I saw was another Red-shouldered Hawk. But I am going to keep trying this winter to get a close-up that bird if it sticks around. It must enjoy teasing me!


Northern Harrier


Northern Harrier


Red-shouldered Hawk



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