Last week was a bit brutal. We had a gorgeous day last Saturday but then the bottom fell out and by the middle of the week it was 20 below (see the graph below).
As the temperature moderated later in the week the biological March showed up and the Canada Geese began to arrive in earnest. I also saw my first Richardson's Ground Squirrel of the year, followed shortly by my first Ferruginous Hawk (which was eating a ground squirrel). The Rough-legged Hawk numbers have also increased and yesterday I saw at least 16 and this morning at least 12. There were Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks, and a Northern Harrier around too. In recent years there have been a few nesting attempts by Bald Eagles and at least one year of successful reproduction. This morning I found two occupied nests with at least one bird incubating.
Here are a few shots of an accommodating Rough-legged Hawk.
This one perched here for a while but then flushed when a Ring-necked Pheasant flushed from the shrubs below him.
Here you can see the hawk looking down and back where the pheasant was leaving
There are a lot of Canada Geese moving through the area right now. Loose flocks of 20 or so birds can be observed flying in from further south then coalescing into larger feeding flocks in the fields near the river or on the ice still left along the river banks. The geese moved through a bit earlier last year (see my posts from last year here and here), but the cold weather must have slowed them down a bit this spring.