Monday, October 12, 2009

Lighthouse Point-Hawkwatching-Columbus Day

Alan and I decided to head down to Lighthouse Point in New Haven, CT as we heard that it was a fantastic place to see raptors migrating close up as well as the impressive numbers they often have with a northwest wind. We arrived there at about 8:30 or so and the first thing we saw were a few dozen Tree Swallows all flying overhead. While it was nice to see them as they have been absent from Central Mass for a while, they did a fine job in messing things up at first as it was a bird I had never really observed flying much so they all looked like mini Kestrels to me for the first 10 minutes or so. The darn things even glide! After a while you were able to separate them out but it did make things a bit confusing for a while.

There were plenty of accipiters and many of them flew directly above our heads which allowed for wonderful viewing and great close up photographs, including this juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk above. Notice how small the head is in comparison to the wings as well as the heavily streaked body.
A nice shot of a juvenile Cooper's Hawk flying overhead. Note the large head with a neck, the body that is moderately streaked and the tawny head.
A little curve ball here. Take a look at this shot. Hmmmm, the tail looks a little rounded and the breast seems lightly streaked and check out the head, doesn't it appear rather large to you kind of like a Cooper's Hawk? Now notice the distinctive notch in the tail as well as the shape in the leading edge of the wing more like a Sharp-shinned Hawk. Confused yet?? HA trying being me with 50 photos similar to this and trying to sort through them all. ;-). Anyhow, I believe it's a sharpie based on the notch and the wing. Perhaps it had a full crop or something. All opinions welcome as I am not one of those who will bite your head off if you disagree with me. And another juvenile Cooper's Hawk photo that really shows off that round tail and white tail band at the end.

We were also treated to seeing a few American Kestrels flying overhead including the one above. I love the orange that is just starting to appear near the beginning of its tail. I was very excited to have this Osprey fly by. Wish I could have gotten it when it was headed toward us instead of away from us, but my darn camera wouldn't focus right.
And of course, what would any hawkwatch be without the Bald Eagle like this sub adult here.

And the highlight of the day was getting this Red-shouldered Hawk to perch for us. Seriously, I was just saying last week to someone that all I wanted this month was a picture of a Red-shouldered Hawk perched for me. I never thought I would get it though. One of the observers spotted a Red-shouldered up above and then a few minutes later, one flew onto the telephone pole. I was beside myself of course because I was finally able to get a good look at one of the major birds I wanted on my list this year. Sigh, such a gorgeous bird!Look at that beautiful red shoulder it has
And the beautiful plumage. While I really enjoy the accipiters, I think buteos are so much nicer to look at. The accipiters look kind of mean with their eye color and sharp angled faces. The buteos face is much softer and yes, very cute in my opinion. Now all if need is a Rough-legged and I will be all set for the year! ;-). And speaking of buteos, we had a couple of small kettles of Broad-winged Hawks while there too. It was always around the same area so I am guessing some good thermals there. Very cool to see the kettle grow bigger and bigger as more Broad-winged Hawks joined in. Often an accipiter would fly in but not in the kettle itself but to get some of that thermal benefit I would assume.

And since we got the Red-shouldered we held out hope we would get a Red-headed Woodpecker that has been spotted there. These woodpeckers are sometimes seen on the "Flicker Tree' as they called it, so every once in a while someone would take a look to see if we could get lucky. No luck, but we did see this Red-bellied Woodpecker.

All in all, it was a fabulous day. While I enjoy hawkatching here in Central Massachusetts more than anywhere else dots and all, it was really nice to visit Lighthouse Point. Special thanks to the counter Greg Hanisek and the observer Dana Campbell for making us feel welcome and filling us in on all of the ever so important land marks as well as some of the tips you have from the field. It was very much appreciated!

Take care all.


Rich said...


I look at your pictures of birds and it makes me think, wouldn't it be great to fly like that.

Great photos.

forestal said...

Looks like a great day - I have trouble enough with perched hawks, flying ones even tougher, but i learned some reading your post. great pics too


matthew houskeeper said...

Lighthouse Point?
I thought that was you. ;)

Kim said...

Hey there Matt! I thought of you while up there because I know you are from around there. Very nice place. If I lived around there I wouldn't get anything done between the shore birds and the hawk watching. Talk about a real gem!

matthew houskeeper said...

I didn't even realize that Lighthouse Point was a good hawk watching spot. I would have guessed Milford Point or Hammonassett etc.

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