30 November 2014
For many years, near the town of Fisherville, there was a certain location where sightings of multiple Short-eared Owls Asio flammeus were virtually guaranteed. I don't know what has happened since the last time I was there about ten years ago, but I could find not a one, and upon checking recent reports, it appears that other birders have had a similar lack of luck. This was a spot where at times one could see around forty birds at the same time, flitting around like giant moths in the crepuscular gloom, and the habitat seems to be unchanged, so what has caused them to move on is a bit of a mystery. There were many rodent burrows in the grass so the prey base seems to still be intact.
We were sitting watching the feeders at the Ruthven National Historic Site in Cayuga, when this Cooper's Hawk Accipiter cooperii made a pass at a Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura feeding on the ground. It missed its target!
Predictably, when it perched on a nearby branch, the feeders became very quiet in a hurry. However, the hawk made no attempt to snag this Common Grackle Quiscalus quiscula when it appeared, so perhaps it had fed well earlier, and even the swoop on the Mourning Dove was more reflexive than a serious attempt at capture.
Just outside Hagersville, we watched a couple of Northern Harriers Circus hudsonius quartering the fields in search of prey. One bird, a female, dropped down on a vole and carried it off beyond photographic range. This male perched briefly on the ground before lifting off again and trying his luck at finding food. I managed a couple of quick shots. The result is quite awful I must confess, but since this is the first time I have ever succeeded in getting a picture of this species, I include it for the record.