Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Little Hawkwatching

Juvenile Broad-winged Hawk
Kettle of Broadwings
 Until bad storms and heavy rains called a halt to my hawkwatching, I was having a good couple of days at Waggoner's Gap hawkwatch, near Carlisle PA. Waggoner's Gap is across the valley to the north from Roundtop.  On clear days I can see Roundtop from the hawkwatch.

Mid-September is the time of year when the highest numbers of hawks are seen.  On good days we can typically see several thousand migrating hawks. Most of the ones seen now are Broad-winged Hawks, which frequently travel in groups, always searching for the next warm thermals to take them ever higher and higher.  In this area a big kettle is probably something more than 100 birds, though kettles of 500-1000 are not unheard of, if not the norm.  The birds will be in south Texas in about 10 days and will winter over in central and South America.

Even though now is the time for Broadwings, other species are moving too, notably Sharp-shinned Hawks, Ospreys, falcons (we have American Kestrel, Merlin and Peregrine Falcon) and Bald Eagles.  Golden Eagles will migrate late in the season.  This has been a good year for Bald Eagles so far. At one point on Monday I saw three moving together.  The photo below is one of those. Bald Eagles don't get their full plumage of a white head and white tail until they are about four years old.  Although the adult birds are gorgeous (and huge!), I always like to see the brown juveniles, because that means there's young blood for the future.
Adult Bald Eagle

1 comment:

EG CameraGirl said...

I was at a hawk watch on Sunday but saw very few hawks. The day before many broadwings had flown over...but the winds had changed!