This weekend was a bittersweet one for me. March 17 holds a special significance for the Core Team. While the rest of the world, or at least the portions looking for a good reason to drink and ingest food best eaten drunk, celebrates St. Patrick’s Day on this auspicious date, we honor Masemas, the birthday of my firstborn. In observance of this festive holiday, we supplement the wearing of the green by donning proud smiles of joy. A small group of family members gathered to help Mason make merry the way a three-year old should, which is to say we enjoyed lots of cake, ice cream, and presents. Good times!

The bitter part came when I had to drive Sara and the kids to meet her mother to kick off a two week leave of absence. Actually, they left because I’ll be absent while traveling for business. The upside will hopefully be some exceptional birds in Texas later this week, but the downside, being apart from my family for a fortnight, is a drag.

Bittersweet also fits a description of the birding this weekend. New York was hit hard by a late-season mix of snow, sleet, and ice, hardly conducive for enjoying the earliest wave of spring migrants. However, I did spot a bunch of lovely raptors from Route 17, including 2 dark-morph Rough-legged Hawks. No eagles, though, which surprised me.

I dropped in at Croton Point Park, which was more or less on my way home, for another run at the wayward Short-eared Owls. Unfortunately, I didn’t run into any owls, pipits, or even, amazingly enough, eagles. Croton Point without eagles? What a day. However, I did run into Corey, always a pleasure. I knew he was stopping by Croton Point at some point this weekend in search of the Long-eared Owl(s) that regular visitors to the park have grown accustomed to watching. That he spotted me at all as I drove into the park and he was driving out suggests two things: one, considering I was driving a different car than usual, is that he’s very observant and two, since he was free to look at other cars rather than being fixated on the trees, grass, and sky, is that the birding must have been pretty poor. True on both counts. Song and White-throated Sparrows are sorry substitutes for owls and grassland specialties. And no Bald Eagles? Please!

Actually, Corey will be surprised to hear that I did spot a mature Bald Eagle flying right over the road as I he and I parted ways, he for parts north, I headed southbound. The baldie was being followed, or perhaps chased, by another bird, this one rather dark. At 70mph, the only mark I could pick up was a thick, black terminal tail band. Now, when I hear eagle with a noticeable terminal tail band, I think immature Golden Eagle. However, such a sighting would be extraordinary, especially in light of the circumstances. It is much more likely that the bird was an immature Bald Eagle, so that’ s what I’ll call it. A Golden Eagle would be something though…

Written by Mike
Mike is a leading authority in the field of standardized test preparation, but he's also a traveler who fully expects to see every bird in the world. Besides founding 10,000 Birds in 2003, Mike has also created a number of other entertaining but now extirpated nature blog resources, particularly the Nature Blog Network and I and the Bird.