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Adirondack Explorer

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Wendy Hall’s favorite place: The grassy fields along Route 22 in Westport

It might come as a surprise that one of Wendy Hall’s favorite spot in the Adirondacks isn’t the most scenic. It’s a brown field in winter.

But driving along Route 22 a few years ago, Hall spotted short-eared owls in the fields on the farmland in that area—making the place infinitely more scenic. She pulled the car over to watch the owls through the fence of a local farm.

The area is a perfect place to see winter raptors this time of year, she said, including threatened harrier hawks during the day and endangered short-eared owls at dusk, in the grasses that haven’t been cut.

“This is the only place to my knowledge in the Adirondacks that they have any sort of population,” she said. “This grassland habitat is where they would nest,” she said.  “Take away the habitat and they’re gone,” Hall added. “That’s important for people to know.”

We met Wendy there recently with her companion, Oz, a barn own she brought along from the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge, resting on her gloved hand. He can no longer fly, which is why the zoo where he lived donated him to the refuge.

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