After 2 days of slogging around town, seeing very little, we finally struck gold and found a mega rarity! The good news: It is rare enough that there is only one previously accepted record by the OBRC. The bad news: it is not a species I can count towards my big year!
We were sitting on a picnic table relaxing on the east end of town when we noticed a good raptor migration starting. Lots of Rough-legged Hawks, the odd Red-tailed Hawk, and a few Peregrine Falcosn. We all got on this interesting looking raptor which didn't seem quite right for a Rough-legged - but it didn't look right for a Red-tailed either! I knew right away that this was something good so I starting taking photos and Alan did as well. It came right over us and we all got some great looks and photos at an adult light-morph Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk!
Eventually it continued on to the west and we checked our photos vs the Sibley app on my phone to confirm - definitely a Harlan's. Unfortunately for me, I was having problems with my dad's backup camera which I was using (my camera bit the dust not long ago). Somehow it managed to erase the whole series of the hawk, as well as other photos, off my camera. This is the second time that this @#$%&@# camera has done that! I will do my best to recover the files, and I think I may bite the bullet and buy a new camera once I get back. I was hoping I could save the money and wait to next year to make the purchase, but I really need a reliable camera that won't do that!
Even if I can't recover the files, Alan will send me his photos to post on the blog.
Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk is currently considered a subspecies of Red-tailed Hawk that breeds in Alaska and winters on the southern Great Plains. It used to be considered a valid species, and maybe it will be again soon? There is one accepted record for Ontario, a bird in Toronto in 1996. There are however, a few more valid records that haven't been reviewed.
This is the first time that Harlan's Hawk has been recorded in northern Ontario as well. A great mega-rarity, but unfortunately it won't count to my big year!
Photos to come (eventually).