This first morning of winter brought mostly cloudy skies, temperatures in the high 30s, winds between 20 and 30 miles per hour with stronger gusts, and light snow flurries. Most of the birds on the trail where hunkered down, but I am not complaining. As soon as I parked my car just off route 627 near the first wooden bridge at 9:55 a.m., I saw the sub-adult male Northern Harrier, my "Gray Ghost" #2, foraging above the fields to the east of Reids Creek.
At first, it was about the same distance away from me as it was on the three previous times this past week that I had seen it there, but it circled back toward me and was working so hard to battle the strong winds that it did not notice my walking closer to it. At times it kited in the strong wind and dropped to the ground, but I didn't see it catch any meals. Five hundred and sixty-four photos later, I lost sight of it as it flew south. I hiked down route 627 to the second wooden bridge, and then back along the west side of Reids Creek. The cold winds stung my face like little needles, and I saw very few other birds, but I was happy knowing that I had gotten some decent shots of Gray Ghost #2.
Sub-adult male Northern Harrier