Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gifts from the North

Yesterday I was finally able to get out and do some exploring around Billings. I wound up north of town on a beautiful clear day. From one point I could see in the distance the Crazy Mountains, the Beartooth Mountains (pictured above), the Bull Mountains, and the Pryor Mountains. There weren't may bird species to be found. A few Canada Geese on a frozen slough, a Common Raven here and there, and a small group of Horned Larks pretty much rounded out the list. Except for the Rough-legged Hawks.

Once I dropped in to the basin north of Billings near the town of Broadview I began to see Rough-legged Hawks. Lots of them. At one point I stopped and did a quick complete scan of the horizon and found eleven individuals. The photo above shows what I most often saw in the steady wind - a hawk hovering in the wind with it's head down scanning the fields below for something to eat.

One bird was hunting from the top of the eastern basin edge and after floating and hovering over the nearby fields, and he wound up perched on a powerpole just up the road from me.

At one point he dove off the pole into the field across the road from me, but apparently missed and returned to the pole.