Learning about birds of prey began with a class given by Liam McGranaghan at Rust Library on February 1. The 44 participants heard all about the birds of prey we can expect to find here in the winter. Liam finished up the program by bringing out his Red-tailed Hawk out for all to see.
On February 3, three groups drove along Loudoun County’s back roads to search for birds of prey in the field.
Liam and Laura McGranaghan led their group of seven people north to the Lucketts area and then west through Waterford, Lovettsville and the Hillsboro area. They found:
4 Bald Eagles (one sitting on a nest in the Waterford area)
8 Red-shouldered Hawks
8 Red-tailed Hawks
5 American Kestrels (one of which was very cooperative for viewing and photographing)
Michael Sciortino and John Denice led their group of eight south and west via Lime Kiln Road towards Middleburg, returning by Tail Race Road to Route 50 and then wrapping up at the Dulles Greenway Wetlands at about 6:00 pm. The highlight of their drive was a very cooperative Merlin, a small falcon a bit larger than a Kestrel, along Foxcroft Road. They found:
3 Bald Eagles
5 Red-shouldered Hawks
5 Red-tailed Hawks
1 American Kestrel
1 Merlin (which was also very cooperative and allowed the group to take several photos of it)
As they were wrapping up at the Dulles Wetlands, they watched hundreds of ducks and geese coming in for the night.
Liz Dennison and Joe Coleman’s group of six people first headed southwest to Digges Valley Road, a wonderful undeveloped area protected by Nature Conservancy conservation easements, and then Hogback Mountain Road and Tail Race Road before visiting the Dulles Wetlands. After that they headed north to the Lucketts area where they wrapped up as the sun set. They found:
4 Bald Eagles (one standing in the nest at the Dulles Wetlands)
16 Red-shouldered Hawks
5 Red-tailed Hawks
2 American Kestrels (one was a very cooperative male perching on a utility line right above our heads)
1 Barred Owl (calling).
While it was disappointing that none of the groups found any accipiters or a Northern Harrier, the Merlin is a great find. Seeing so many Bald Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks and Red-shouldered Hawks was a real treat.