Saturday, February 10, 2007

Arctic Visitor

I had good looks at a light- or intermediate-phase Rough-legged Hawk yesterday afternoon immediately south of Martinsburg as it crossed West Virginia Route 11 in direct, gliding flight to the southwest. The white on the tail made me think Bald Eagle at first, but then I noted the overall paleness of the underbody and, finally, white mirrors in the primaries directly behind a dark wrist patch. A winter rarity this far south, the sighting of this species seemed very appropriate given the “deep freeze” temperatures that have enveloped the Eastern Panhandle for past two weeks. It’s probably a stretch, but is it possible that this bird was driven southward by the incredible amounts of lake-effect snow that have fallen in areas to the north of us?

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