Thursday, September 19, 2013

More Hawkwatching

Juvenile Bald Eagle, showing the typical white axilaries of the young bird

Vacation is over and so is my extended hawkwatching.  Now, I’ll have to be content with hawkwatching on Sundays and hoping the weather cooperates. (The weather won’t cooperate this Sunday, I’m afraid).  The hawkwatching over the past five days was excellent, even though Waggoner’s Gap didn’t get a big Broad-winged Hawk flight (Yet.  Friday could still be outstanding) .  I still saw several thousand Broad-winged Hawks, but the big flight this year was seen at Mt. Wachusetts in MA and at Militia Hill, near Valley Forge PA, where they recorded over 18,500 on September 14.

Adult Bald Eagle
Don’t think I’m complaining, as I’m not.  Typically, Waggoner’s Gap isn’t a premiere Broadwing spot.  Eagles are the main attraction, though it’s still too early for Golden Eagles. So I saw Bald Eagles on this trip, probably about 40 of them over five days, with one day of 15. I also saw at least one of every raptor species that flies at this time of year.  That means I saw a nice young Peregrine Falcon, a couple of Merlins, a few American Kestrels, Sharp-shinned Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks, a few Red-shouldered Hawks, Ospreys and a few Northern Harriers.  Some non-raptors also appeared, including Ravens, another favorite of mine. We also saw a red-eyed vireo still feeding two of this year’s young. It seems awfully late for that, but there it was.

In another month or so the mix of species will change and eventually the Northern Goshawks, Golden Eagles, perhaps the Rough-legged Hawks will be in evidence.  Golden Eagles fly in large numbers, sometimes more than 100 in a season.  Catching the goshawks or the roughies is less certain, especially recently. 

Sharp-shinned Hawk
I got to renew acquaintances with hawkwatching friends and actually got to meet one person I’d only ever emailed before, though we’ve been emailing for some years.  That was neat.  The weather cooperated, if you don’t count the morning it was so cold and windy on those exposed rocks that we all wore long underwear and layers of jackets. I was just glad I had a pair of gloves in my car that I hadn’t put away after last winter.  Waggoner’s Gap is high and exposed to the wind for 50 miles in just about any direction.  Weather down in the valley bears little resemblance to what you might experience on those rocks.  It’s always best to be prepared with both sunscreen and a heavy jacket.   Often, you need both at the same time. 


Scott said...

Great post, Carolyn. I'd been told about the Militia Hill broad-winged invasion (about 20 minutes from me), but I could hardly believe it.

Carolyn H said...

Scott: Thanks! When Broadwings fly it's kind of like the lottery. You just never can guess which hawkwatch site is going to win the big day bragging rights. Wind, storms, time of year--all make it anyone's guess. sometimes you win, mostly you don't.

Sharkbytes said...

I'm not so good at telling most of those apart without a book, but it sounds like great fun!