* These photos were not taken in Dutchess County.
I have a history with this species. Back in 2009, when I was sporting my olympus camera rig, I came across my first northern harriers at the Shawangunk Grasslands. They were always so far away, and my lens at the time was too short to get any distinguishable photos.
Fast forward to when I got my canon camera rig in 2010. One of the first places I wanted to go was back to the Grasslands to have a chance to photograph them. The problem was, the preserve was closed due to a restoration project, so I had to wait once again.
Just this year, the restoration project was completed, and once again, I planned a visit. The problem was, every planned trip got rained out throughout the summer. I was beginning to wonder if it was never meant to be.
Believe it or not, I didn’t originally plan to go to the Shawangunk Grasslands today. I had planned to go the Beacon waterfront in search of sandpipers. But it was raining once again, so my wife and I decided to drive into New Paltz. Surprisingly, the weather was more stable over in Ulster County at the time, so I proposed a drive to the Grasslands once we were done in New Paltz.
With the weather still looking a little dodgy, I knew my time was limited. Thankfully, the harriers immediately made their presence known, with several flying low over the fields, presumably looking for prey.
I have seen this species in Dutchess County prior, but they were typically by surprise and I was unable to react fast enough. The Shawangunk Grasslands is the one place I’ve been where I’ve encountered at least one every visit.