The Mississquoi National Wildlife Refuge offers limited road access and hiking opportunities, but good boating access -- in summer; options are more restricted for cars, but greatly expanded for hiking or snowshoeing, in winter.. When my friend Hannah Goldman and I visited in January, we were hiking on the snow-covered Black Creek trail when we noticed animal tracks out on the frozen creek. Once we assured ourselves that the ice was thick and fast, we decided to follow the creek downstream on ice, rather than on the trail. Tracks abounded -- deer, mice, and a few predators too.
When we finally reached the mouth of the Black Creek, where it empties into Lake Champlain, we moved into the shadows of the trees to observe any activity out on the lake. I soon noticed a large raptor over the lake, which turned out to be a Rough-legged Hawk; RLHAs come down from Canada into the New England area in wintertime, so we birders are always glad to see these northern visitors. Hannah and I watched the hawk soar and then hover for several seconds, before diving after some prey animal. I knew that this species was the only hawk that generally hovered over prey - like a Kestrel does - but this was the first time I had ever witnessed it first-hand.
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