I spent this past Saturday over at Barre Falls for more hawkwatching as early October is peak migration times for both Sharp-shinned Hawks and American Kestrels. I was also crossing my fingers that a Peregrine would decide to do a fly- by but that was not in our cards that day.
I am trying to get in as much hawk watching practice as possible while the raptors continue to pass through because while you can read about the subject as much as you want, there is no better way to learn it than to do it.
Cooper's HawkThe once thing that I have noticed more than anything is how much more comfortable I am with my binnoculars. If anything is going to give you practice using these, it is hawkwatching for certain. I have gotten pretty good at being able to spot a raptor very far away as I have gotten a lot of practice lately, it's just identifying them that still remains the challenge (but I am starting to get it!)
Sharp-shinned Hawk coming Head-on
But soon enough migration will slow down some which will give me some time for other forms of birding like looking for ducks in nearby ponds and rivers and waiting for the gulls to return and you all know how much I love my gulls! They continue to hawkwatch up until December at Barre Falls as many of the Buteos (besides the Broad-winged Hawk) have yet to start heavy migration so I still plan to get out there at least once a week if the winds and weather are the right conditions.
Sharp-shinned Hawk side ProfileAnyhow, as you can see Saturday was a day for Sharp-shinned Hawks at Barre Falls. By the end of the day the total was 180 and many of those 180 came close enough for a photo. It also gave me the opportunity to really study these birds and their flight style which are rapid wing beats followed by a glide. I was also able to really see what they mean now about the size of the head of a Sharp-shinned Hawk compared to a Cooper's Hawk which I totally get now. Another thing I noticed is just how quick these birds can be. No sooner do you spot one, explain its location to the other watchers and by the time you explain it, they are a couple of field views away from it so you have to look for it all over again!
Cooper's HawkSpeaking of Cooper's Hawk, there were approx. 12 of them sighted including the one above who literally caused the song birds on the left to panic. Seriously, the lives of birds are amazing. Not only in the marshlands, or in the tree tops, but in the sky as well. We humans may have almost taken over earth, but the sky is still the birds domain, except for aircraft that is. It's amazing what goes on up there if you have the attention span to watch it!
We also had a sub-adult Bald Eagle do a fly-by over our heads which was really nice to see.
Wishing it were a Golden Eagle but beggars can't be choosers!
The picture above is of a White Faced Hornet. A mean little bugger for certain!!! I wanted to take some micro photography for a change of pace as it isn't something I have been doing lately. It's funny how many other mini-hobbies you pick up while hawk watching when there is dead time. I have developed a sudden liking to all kind of bugs, air craft (with blimps being a 20 point bonus) and cloud formations. No, I am not joking.
Hoping to get out at least one night after work this week for some birding. I really want to get a better look at the gorgeous White-crowned Sparrow, but it's getting dark out by 6PM. Totally not fair!!
Take care all