Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Broad-winged Bonanza & Dirty Birding

I went to a Hartford Audubon hawk watch Sunday on Booth Hill in the town of West Hartland. The watch was conducted by Paul Carrier who provided interesting tidbits of interesting information about hawk migration throughout the day. Booth Hill is located in a scenic country setting and the only thing that prevented it from being the perfect fall day was the date on the calendar.
I'm glad that I arrived before 9am because we counted approximately 1,000  kettling Broad-winged Hawks passing overhead by 10am. I've seen them kettle before at hawk watches during the last couple of years but never in such concentration. It was an awesome sight! We added another 1,000 broadwings to the list by noon and the total for the day was about 3,000. Other species passing through include Osprey, Bald Eagle, and American Kestrel. There were also Sharp-shinned Hawks and Red-tailed Hawks haning around the area.
click to play
I enjoyed participating in the count by searching hawks in the distance with a spotting scope. I was under the impression that the best time to start searching for migrating hawks was about 10am and that it was a waste of time looking for them in the middle of the day. Neither one of these theories held up on Sunday. It was slower during lunch hour but we were still able to find a few.
Saturday was an entirely different experience for me. I went to check out Wangunk Meadows for the first time since the flood waters subsided. I had a difficult time navigating through the soggy fields, almost falling several times. My boots and pants were covered with mud by the time I finished my walk.
Downed trees and giant puddles were a reminder left behind by hurricane Irena.
Wangunk Meadows is not the prettiest place to go birding. During the summer it is used as a training ground by mosquitoes to inflict misery upon humans. There are abandoned cars and other debris strewn about.  
 I may not enjoy sloshing around muddy- floody fields but shorebirds certainly don't mind it. The fairground area was chock full of them on Saturday. I found yellowlegs,  Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers, Killdeer, Wilson's Snipe, and a Semipalmated Plovers .
I also found a few Pectoral Sandpipers in the mix. I may have found them here before but I can't remember the last time that was.
I continued to walk further north along the Connecticut River. The Wesleyan rowing crew was busy  at practice.
I found several not-so-Solitary Sandpipers like this one along the way. There didn't seem to be a great variety of species beyond the shorebirds I saw. I found a few Swamp Sparrows and my first sighting of a Marsh Wren at the meadows was a nice surprise.

One day I'm covered with mud watching shorebirds and the next day I'm watching thousands of hawks flying over head on their way to the tropics. These were two, totally different experiences that made for an exciting weekend of birding!

Note:There is something odd happening to my photos when you click on them. I don't know if this a change implemented by blogger or if something is broken. Is anyone else having the same issue?


Unknown said...

"training ground for mosquitos" - Ha-ha! I've found a few such places myself.

It does indeed appear the Blogger now uses a modern picture viewing window that shades the background for better viewing. I kinda like it though.

Kathie Brown said...

Wow, it sure sounds like it to me! I would have loved to have seen all those hawks!

BTW, thanks for all your comments on my blog!

chris said...

1,000 Hawk, wow that was probably very impressive Larry...
I like the lot-so solitary sandpiper ;-)

Larry said...

Birding is Fun-Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad I guess. I think they switched back to the old system.I couldn't enlarge photos for a while.

Kathiebirds-it was a great morning for sure-and you're welcome.

Chris-Yes,it was a great sight.

eileeninmd said...

What an awesome day. I love the shot of all the Broad Winged hawks. I saw a kettle of these samw hawks last weekend , it was very cool.

Dawn Fine said...

Two great days! Dispite the mud, debris and skitters, looks like some good birding.

Will we see you Oct 15th?...another BwBTC outing planned with Luke Tiller.

Unknown said...

Beautiful photos! Looks like a great time. :)

Dawn Fine said...

YOU HOOOOOO....LARRRRYYYY>.you here? WILL you be joining us SAT 15th in CT??

Larry said...

eileen-Thanks-I've had slow days hawk watching so it was nice to hit this time.


Dawn-I would like to make it on the 15th and will most likely make it but will have to cut the day short due to family plans.