Monday, September 8, 2008

Part 1- Birds Of Prey Are On Their Way

I've had some memorable moments this year viewing birds of prey. I enjoyed a close-up view of this young Red-tailed Hawk back in January as it perched in a cedar tree at Hammonasset park.
I also enjoyed watching this immature Bald Eagle sitting on the ice at Wethersfield Cove.

When Spring arrived The Ospreys started to move in. This one was perched on a snag at Wright's Cove in Portland, CT.
I had some difficulty trying to decide if this was a Cooper's or a Sharp-shinned Hawk. I was leaning towards a sharpie but decided to just combine the two and call it a carpie.

Now the time has arrived when many of these hawks, eagles, falcons, and osprey will withdraw from their breeding grounds across North America and fly south to their wintering grounds.

I don't really want to watch these magnificent birds in order to count them or collect scientific data. Instead, I will watch these majestic birds of prey as they circle higher and higher into the sky. There are times that I can almost imagine that I'm up there with them escaping the trivialities of life and getting a bird's eye view of the bigger picture.

Goodbye Joe-and thanks for the help-
This is a photo of Joe Wojtanowski, the founder of the peak mountain hawk watch site in East Granby. Joe has been coordinating the hawk watches there for the last six years. Although the number of hawks seen here during migration don't rival the numbers seen near the shoreline sites, Joe did once count 3,00 Broad-winged Hawks here on one particular day. I've stopped by his site a few times over the last couple of years and was able to pick up some helpful information including: tips about identifying hawks in flight , peak migration times for each species, best viewing conditions-(better if there are some clouds around), and the best wind direction- (Northwest).
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As I was preparing to add a link to the Peak Mountain Hawkwatch Data Summary Page, I was sad to learn that the site was closed down as of yesterday due to a conflict of interest from some of the residents of East Granby. Joe had mentioned that the next couple of weeks are prime time to look for migrating Broad-winged Hawks.
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There are many other Hawkwatch sites in Connecticut from which to view hawks. Here is a link for Connecticut Hawk Watch Sites. You can select the link to any individual sites to get directions to the site and data summaries for the hawks seen at the location broken down by year, month, and day. These sites are open to the public. If you don't live in Connecticut, here is the main link to Hawkcount. In addition, here are tow hawk watching opportunities offered by The Hartford Audubon :
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Wednesday & Thursday, September 17-18, 2008 Johnnycake MT, Burlington Come see Broad-winged Hawks migrating at their peak through Connecticut with chances of seeing hundreds or thousands of birds. Also see other hawk species as well. Bring a chair, food and drink and spend the day watching migrating hawks. Meet at 8:30 AM. Call leader for directions. Contact leader for directions. Leader: Paul Carrier
Saturday & Sunday, September 20-21, 2008Hawk watch at Booth Hill, West Hartland-Come see Broad-winged Hawks migrating at their peak through Connecticut with chances of seeing hundreds or thousands of birds. Also see other hawk species as well. Bring a chair, food and drink and spend the day watching migrating hawks. Meet at 8:30 AM. Contact leader for directions. Leader: Paul Carrier

I haven't taken any recent hawk flight photos, so all the photos in this post are older ones. You can see the black wing border and broad white stripe of the Broad-winged Hawk . The dark leading edge of the shoulder area is seen on the Red-tailed Hawk. It's great when you can see these markings but I've noticed that hawks can take on many different shapes and positions when in flight that making them much more difficult to identify at times.
video
Earlier this month, I saw my first Mississippi Kite. The video wasn't very good but it was a great bird to see! There were actually two that were regularly seen flying over Great Pond in Simsbury for the last couple of months. As it turns out they paired up and were successful in their efforts!
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I turned off comments on part 1 but you can post coments under part 2-thanks.