[Ontbirds]Exiting Snowy Owls, Rough-legged Hawks - Newmarket area

RON FLEMING flemingron at rogers.com
Sat Mar 4 12:50:49 EST 2006

Of the various migration cues that get birds moving at this time of year, warmer weather has not been one of them in this area; icy conditions and bitter north winds still held sway in the flatlands west of Newmarket this morning.  Nevertheless, the Snowy Owls that spent the winter here appear to be making a quick exit.  Of the six birds that took a liking to the tundra-like landscape beside Hwy. 400 during January and February, only one individual was evident when I scoured the area this morning.  This bird was on the west side of Jane Street and east of the highway, sitting in the middle of the snow-covered fields north of Woodchopper's Lane.  
  Hopefully Dan Bone and his group from the Kawarthas has better luck there this afternoon.
  Interestingly, two Rough-legged Hawks were present today; this is a species that has been very scare in York region this winter.  These birds are passing through York region after wintering somewhere else, now heading back to breeding grounds in the far north.  Horned Larks were doing likewise, many of them getting into the territorial spirit, performing aerial jousts with each other and doing some stiff-tailed posturing for either rival males or potentially-interested females.  There were also a few Snow Buntings still lingering in the area.
  Of the Rough-legged hawks, one was a light-phase bird hunting south of King Street and east of Keele, while the other was a dark juvenile hunting at Keele and Hwy. 9.
  All of these areas are just east of Hwy. 400 and just north of Hwy. 9 in the agricultural flatlands west of Newmarket.
  Ron Fleming, Newmarket 

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