Monday, September 21, 2009

The bluest blue

Today’s photo is how the sky has looked at the cabin (and elsewhere) for the past few days. Isn’t it lovely? The sky is the deepest, bluest sapphire blue. Not a cloud anywhere.

Try looking into this sky all day long hoping to see hawks.

This is the kind of sky hawkwatchers hate. Clouds are what hawkwatchers like. Clouds give some depth to the sky, and help us locate hawks in the sky. When the sky is like this, human eyes find it difficult to focus and spot birds. Are you looking for distant birds, close birds? The eyes have trouble find the right focus and depth to spot birds.

Clouds also help provide directions to hawkwatchers about where to look for a hawk that someone else has spotted. "There’s a kettle in that third puffy cloud." "The bird is moving in to that gray wispy cloud." These directions make sense to hawkwatchers.

So what do you say when the sky looks like today’s photo?. "It’s in the blue,"—a dreaded phrase if ever I’ve heard one. So this sky is what hawkwatchers were faced with this past week and weekend during the height of the Broad-winged hawk migration.

Still, we managed to see and find good numbers of hawks. At Waggoner’s Gap some 1,500 Broadwings, mostly distant birds, were counted on Friday. It was great. We saw large groups (kettles) of birds, birds in onesies and twosies. We saw close Sharp-shinned Hawks, nice numbers of Ospreys, a few kestrels and it was tons of fun.

And now, Broadwing season is over. Soon, the Sharpies will dominate, and then Redtails and late in the season will come Golden Eagles, and if we’re lucky, goshawks and Rough-legged Hawks. Hopefully, I’ll get back onto the lookout for all of that, too.


Squirrel said...

Very intersting. I am thinking of planning a hawk watching trip myself. Thanks,

Squirrel said...

Hi, when is the main thrust of hawk migration over? I want to plan a trip in Oct.

Squirrel said...

Wasn't sure how to just email you. Thanks for visiting my blog. I uploaded the color version of the BW misty river for you to see. Actually I like the color one best. See what you think. I am enjoying your blog and I am considering a trip to Wagoners Gap. I don't think it is too far from me.

Carolyn H said...

Squirrel: The main thrust of hawk migration? Well, it depends.

Broadwings, which comes by the thousands when you're lucky, are already past their peak.

The best variety usually comes around the third week of October down here, likely a few days earlier to the north.

Sharpies will dominate in about another 10 days or so, followed by Redtails. Then the variety hits. After the end of October you'll be looking for goshawk and Rough-legs, but the overall numbers will be starting to diminish in November.

It kind of depends on what you want to see, I guess. Hawk Mtn. is also an excellent choice for a trip, though Waggoner's gets more Golden Eagles. Scott's Mtn. up near Penn State, got the bulk of Broadwings this year, and Allegheny Front near Pittsburgh gets an excellent Golden Eagle flight too. The New Jersey coastal sites rock with falconsj.

Carolyn H.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

You know, having never gone hawkwatching at a premier site, it hadn't occurred to me how much a totally blue, bright, cloudless sky could mess things up…but I can now understand how a lack of reference points would be a problem.

Good post!