Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hawk Watching Barre Falls-Wed. Sept 15th 2010

Today would be my first day of fall hawkwatching at Barre Falls. I would get there at about 8:30 or so and Bart and Donna would already be there and hoping today would be a good one just as I was, but this being my 2nd year of hawk watching a good day for me is more than 100 while a good day for them would be thousands of course!
Anyhow, I am doing things in no particular order here as I first wanted to show all of you the pictures of the kettles I was able to get and against blue skies no less which was something I didn't even think I would be able to get w/ my lousy camera so was thrilled when I did!
It wouldn't take us long (and there were many of us in the morning) to spot some Broad-winged Hawks and what would be interesting is we would see the BW's come in one by one at first and sometimes two but things would change in the mid morning as we finally could see some kettles of up to 30-to over 100 The kettle would usually be spotted when someone would spot a group of 4 of so of the BW's gaining altitude and making the circles they usually do, which would very often lead us to the kettle much to our delight.
What was great about this whole experience is that many of the kettles could be seen with just the naked eye and that is why I was able to get some photos of the experience. Yes I realize they look like tiny specs in the sky, but that is how you usually see hawks in migration which is why a lot of birders don't care to hawk watch as you have to work hard for your reward and once you get it, you have to use other clues for identification besides field marks such as wing position, flight behavior, overall shape, etc. This is what makes it so fun for the hawk watchers as it takes intense concentration and skill that is learned over the years and one I am still very new at. With that said, it's amazing how one year behind your belt can do for you as I was able to identify non raptors immediately out of the mix such as gulls, TVs (yes they are raptors, but most this time of the year are not migrating quite yet) and the local ravens that nest at Barre Falls. I was also able to distinguish accipiters vs. buteos rather easily even fairly high up in the air which was another thing I struggled with last year.
Of all of the kettle shots, I like this one best. Here they are in a kettle that is just starting to break and starting to peel. I like the picture because it's almost forming an s of some sort. Seeing these kettles is always such a fantastic experience. Now I am always amazed by nature and birds in particular but there are some things that just leave you with no words and you stare in wonder at probably one of the coolest things about fall migration which is seeing first hand hundreds of BW's take to the sky in their journey south to escape the brutal cold that will soon be headed our way just as generation to generation before them did. In a society where many are dictated by man made things like technology, cars and time schedules we sometimes forget that the most efficient and advanced creations are not made my man, but nature and no man could ever come close to replicating . Total Broad-winged Hawk count for the day would be 1,270 which isn't too shabby at all!
Finally other highlights of the day, including a few Broad-winged Hawks we had earlier in the morning that would be fairly low.
We would also have a couple of pairs of them here and there.
One of quite a few American Kestrels we would see who would not do us the honors of landing on the nest box for a decent look at it. Another bonus earlier in the day would be seeing a group of 4 Merlins taking turns dive bombing a Red-tailed Hawk. Seriously, the poor Red-tailed's never seem to get a break as it was just flying along minding its own business until the feisty Merlins decided to have a little fun in the midst of migration. I had heard and read about Merlin's doing this but had never seen it first hand and it would be another highlight of the day for me because it was not only interesting to see, but a FOY Merlin for me which is always nice.
Fran decided to come by and make a visit and as we were chit chatting, we would see this handsome adult Bald Eagle come by and be close enough for a photo.
A picture of a Sharp-shinned Hawk. We would also get one lone Cooper's Hawk today (could be more but I only saw one). Another interesting note would be no Osprey's at all today while I was there which is odd because Bart says whenever you get the BW's you usually get the Ospreys but not today it seems.
Another highlight would be seeing two female Purple Finches in a tree and one would stick around long enough for me to get this cool shot above just as it was getting ready for take off!

I'll be doing more hawk watching tomorrow so cross your fingers that tomorrow will be a big day for all of us!

Take care all.


Jen said...

Awesome! When our rainy weather clears up I hope to visit our local hawkwatch site too...

MaineBirder said...

Those are some great kettle photos Kim! And what a beautiful sky too.

I saw a kettle through my moon roof when I was coming home from classes today above I-295 near Freeport, Maine.

Amy said...

Oh, this post makes me so regret not getting to our hawk watch last year! I had such good intentions... Ydewarour photos are wonderful! Sounds like a great site!


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