Most of the official hawk watch sites are about an hour away from me but I wanted to experience the Fall hawk migration closer to home. Fortunately, I'm within 15 miles of several trails that provide access to the Metacomet Ridge . The traprock crest of the ridge was created by lava welling up from hundreds of feet deep through faults that were created by continental drifts millions of years ago. The maximum elevation of the Metacomet Ridge in Connecticut is only about 1,000 feet but the view from the top area is fantastic, especially on a clear Fall day. I had a clear view of Long Island Sound in New Haven almost 30 miles away. As I was making my way through the wooded trail that leads to the top of the ridge I saw a doe, a deer, a female deer. I stood very still and talked to the deer in gentle tones. The deer seemed very curious as it took a couple of steps forward and stared right at me. I was concerned that it might run onto the busy highway which was only 10 feet away. After a few seconds of staring me down, it slowly wandered off into the woods. Further up the trail I saw a Fisher scurrying up the hill. There has been an increasing number of sightings in Connecticut of this sleek, dark member of the Martin family over the last few years. They may look harmless but they have been known to eat birds, domestic animals and even deer!
Do you know what kind of plant is in the above photo? I didn't find the big kettle of Broad-winged Hawks that I hoped to. My total count of broadwings was only 8 for the morning but I enjoyed closeup views of Osprey, Sharp-shinned Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, Turkey Vultures, and Black Vultures. Searching for migrant hawks reminds me a little bit of trout fishing. Don't worry, I don't intend to start casting lures off the top of a mountain in hopes of catching a passing Osprey. What I mean is, your success depends on the perfect weather conditions and being at the right place in the right time. Veteran hawk watchers wll tell you about some of there greatest days when they saw hawks by the thousands but they will also tell you that some days can be very slow. You can find count totals and hawkwatch locations on the hawkcount website .
One of my more exciting moments came when 5 Black Vultures flew past me in close formation. They reminded me of military aircraft flying out on a mission. The grey wingtips are one good fieldmark to differentiate them from Turkey Vultures. Other highlights included watching a Sharp-shinned Hawk chase after a Red-tailed Hawk and a Red-tailed Hawk badgering a Black Vulture.
Does it look to you like this Osprey has wing damage? I wonder what happened to it and can it survive?
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I combined a couple of short clips The first clip is a Raven which seemed to be enjoying the winds which were in excess of 30mph at times. That is immediately followed by a sharpie showing off its rapid wing beats.