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.
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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?