Sunday, November 17, 2013

Rough-legged Hawk at Cape Spear

 After pacing the road in White Hills for the better part of a day, I felt the need to move around. Hoping to see something special, I headed to Cape Spear. Around Blackhead, small bird activity was scarce, so I drove to the Cape.
 It was pretty quiet in the area, just the way I like it when I want to look for small birds. On the back side of the Cape near the cannon, I was rewarded with a quick look at a small bird eating seeds from the dried weeds. It flew. I followed. It flew again. I followed until it finally flew down by the rocks near the water. I hid away among the rocks and waited, hoping the bird would return. No luck! I really wanted to identify this bird. After about 45 minutes, I decided to go for a walk and return to look for it later.
 I headed up toward the old lighthouse. Once there, figuring the hardest part of the walk was behind me, I headed toward the East Coast Trail for, yet again, one more nice morning hike.
 As I neared the gorge, I was amazed to see this great Rough-legged Hawk rise up and hover for a brief second in front of me. Wow! It flew in my general direction before it veered off  the toward  the cabin at the bottom of the hill.
 Certainly not expecting a Rough-legged, I first thought this might be a Northern Harrier when I saw the white on the rump. Then, I saw the overhead pattern of this light-morph hawk, and it was clear I was looking at my first Rough-legged Hawk in three years. Nice!
As it turned out, there was not one single bird in the trail, nor did the small, unknown bird below the new lighthouse appear again. However, while I was gone, a White-winged Scoter did show up at the point. I drove on to Goulds where I took a cursory look at some of the fields before rushing back to see the Virginia's Warbler. The rare little warbler was being much more cooperative on Saturday than on Friday.

Be sure to check out some of the great pictures of the Virginia's Warbler posted by Dave Hawkins linked at the bottom, right of this page. There also were some other great pictures taken yesterday. Watch for them through the blog links and bird links provided here.


  1. Hi! I really enjoy your photos. I'm curious, what other birds have you seen in and around Cape Spear?

  2. Hi, Thank you for your comment. The road to Cape Spear is often more productive than Cape Spear, itself. The trail beyond is also quite active during the right season. It is easy to spend a whole day in this area and still not cover it all. Many rare warblers have been seen along Blackhead Road, in the Village of Blackhead and along the hiking trail. Raptors are also frequently seen around the Cape including Bald Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, Rough-legged Hawk, Northern Goshawk and other more rare species have been reported. A European Whimbrel, Common Redpolls, Snow Buntings, Lapland Longspur, White-crowned Sparrow, Nelson's Sparrow, Yellow-breasted Chat, Black-throated Blue Warbler and so much more. Along the coastline, it is possible to see many species of seabirds including gulls, gannets, murre, scoters, phalaropes, Dovekie's and more. Most every season at or around Cape Spear yields a wide variety of birds. Having said all of that, let me also say, I have been there many times when I have seen no birds at all. Hope you get an opportunity to visit the area.