Friday, September 18, 2009

Hawkwatching & Misc.

I took a half day from work today and decided to visit the dedicated hawkwatchers at Barre Falls as it's not too far away from my work place. There were not that many birds on the move, but it was still nice to get out there to practice and "chit-chat" with Donna, Bart, Dave, etc. The bird I did see most while there were a couple of Osprey's that decided to hunt for fish by the river that is fairly close to where you hawkwatch there.
As you can see the pictures did not come out all that grand. I thought hawkwatching was challenging with a pair of bins, but it's nothing in comparison to doing it w/ a camera. Of course by the time you whip your camera out, you have already spotted the raptor, but the challenge at that point is to get your camera to "auto focus" on a faint dot up in gray cloudy skies. The camera usually does not know what you want to take a picture of, unless the bird is fairly closeby, so hence the poor quality photos. It doesn't help that my camera is only a 15 zoom, so that contributes to the problem. Anyhow, I still wanted pics as they are good for record shots and despite the lousy quality of the photo above, I thought it was a neat shot of an Osprey as it shows just how acrobatic these birds can be while in the sky.
Another lousy shot of what could be a Cooper's, don't you think? Allthough it was identified as a sharpie when I look at the photo above, it seems more like a Cooper's based on the long tail vs. a Sharpie who has a shorter tail. This bird does appear to have a small head like a Sharpie, so what's the verdict here.Deciding to analyze this a little furhter I whipped out my "Hawks from Every Angle" book a little more and was perplexed over just how similar the Sharpie on the lefts tail appears similar in size to the Cooper's on the right as both tails appear somewhat similar in size, but the differences in ths size of the head is very obvious in this picture I think. Going back on the statement above and calling this a Sharp-shinned Hawk now.

Further evidence of this being a sharpie is the picture above. Notice the rounded tail of the picture of the sharpie on the right vs. the lousy picture I took today.

Did I need to bother with all of this rambling?? Of course not, but I wanted to give you an idea of just how challenging hawkwatching can be and remember, I am doing this with the luxury of my pictures, my guide book and as much time as I need to look at the bird, these hawkwatchers often have just mere seconds to observe, identify, etc., and more often than not, these birds are mere specs in the sky so color field marks may be useless due to the sun and the fact that the bird is too far away to pick up those field marks even with a high powered scope, so they have to look for other visual and behavioural clues. Very difficult but I guess that's what half the fun is though as its quite the challenge!

And since I am on a roll here with lousy shots of various birds of prey, I couldn't resist posting a couple of out of focus photos of my favorite birds of all, the Peregrine Falcons in downtown Worcester. As you can see, they don't have any desire to take to the skies anytime soon.
Why would they with the Rock Pigeon explosion that took over downtown Worcester this summer during breeding season. They can eat like kings for as long as they want, and they have a nifty nestbox for shelter to boot. Not a bad setup if I do say so myself! The juvenile Peregrine Falcons have long since gone, so mom and dad are just hanging out just like old times.
Went to Target last night and saw the Red-tailed Hawk perched on the flag poll at the cemetery in Millbury, so of course, I had to get out of my car for a photo.
So funny to see it perched up there like that and it's one of this birds favorite perching places.

Will be headed to Mount Watatic tomorrow for more hawkwatching and perhaps Barre Falls on Sunday. Take care all!


Richard said...

I've noticed (at least to me) that the Sharpie seems to have a wider wing that are more rounded in the front. It doesn't say anything about it in the books but I can see it in pictures.

On flight pictures I gave up on auto focus and went to manual and burst shots. And forget about using an LED screen...I just can't follow fast enough.

Ginnymo said...

Great pics Kim!! I sometimes see a little sharp-shinned around here swooping down trying to catch a little bird. Nice to see you still have the parent falcons around. love that hawk perched up by that flag!!

Kim said...

Richard, excellent observation! In the book "Hawks from Every Angle" they actually comment on the same thing. Exact quote regarding the Sharpies: "Some birds can be lightly marked than Copper's Hawks; however, they are males, which are very different in shape and flight style from Cooper's Hawks. NOTE STOCKY WINGS, small head and short, narrow tail.

Kim said...

Oh, and I can't set manual focus on my camera for some reason. Another reason why I want a new camera!


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