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17844An Interesting Afternoon

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  • Beth Hill
    Nov 23 7:36 PM
      A few of us got together this afternoon for a "turkey hunt" around Great Falls.  Since turkeys have been released in the Ulm area and have been seen in Fox Farm in Great Falls we started by driving past the DQ (they've been seen there - getting ice cream I guess) and then headed to Ulm fishing access to head back to Great Falls along the river road on the east side and Wilson Butte Rd.  We saw starlings and magpies and pigeons at our first stop.  A roughleg was fence post sitting and gave us excellent views of under-side markings when it flew off.  Then a crowd of magpies along side of the road made us pause to see if there was a discarded carcass.  Sure enough, right in the ditch - but to our surprise there was a very large, dark hawk sitting on it.  Right there - just 20 feet from us.  Could we step out for a photo?  No, it reluctantly left, but circled, perched, circled some more - we got the hint and drove up a little further to watch it fly - a beautiful example of a dark morph roughleg.  Nice.  Then - over the butte opposite Big Bend fishing access - 2 more hawks soaring.  Kris, Kitty and I got really good looks - when we got back together we all said - wow - dark flight feathers and light wing linings - if it was August we would call them Swainson's hawks.  Later we saw an immature bald eagle and a pair of adults.  One of the adults had light wing feathers underneath.  I thought at first it was the light, but when it made another pass it wasn't.  It couldn't have had a whiter head, a yellower beak or looked anything less than a full adult.  We also saw a couple pheasants, flickers, and deer.
      Beth Hill
      Great Falls