Reflections on The Season – Quaker Ridge 2009

22 11 2009

Bald Eagles - Michael Ferrari

It seems like it was just a short time ago that I was standing out on the lawn at Greenwich Audubon in a t-shirt picking up the first migrating raptor of the season as temperatures soared up into the 90’s. We started our watch on August 20 and three months later we are at the close. What a season it has been though, records have tumbled, rarities have been sighted and most importantly we have gathered another seasons worth of data which will help scientists determine the health of North America’s raptor population.

Highlights of the year have been legion, with a total of nine beautiful Sandhill Cranes on the season, including a remarkable group of five that were tracked by observers all the way from Wareham MA to the Scott’s Mountain Hawkwatch on the border of NJ and PA and perhaps eventually as far as Georgia (see post below). Other interesting sightings have included two Mississippi Kites that appeared together on October 14 (a species that has only recently been found nesting as far north as New England) and 11 Golden Eagles on the year.

We have also been breaking records all around, for example Nov. 18 with just two days to go we finally broke our seasons best record for Bald Eagles (thanks to Stefan Martins eagle eyes – bad pun intended). It has been a great year for these magnificent birds and it’s amazing to witness an environmental success story like this in action and heartening to see that armed with the right information and desire to make a difference we really can make a positive impact on the lives of these creatures.

Merlin numbers (a rather feisty little member of the falcon family) also peaked at an all time high this year (150) reflecting their burgeoning numbers and spreading breeding range. Conversely American Kestrel numbers,although not shockingly low, were not as high as past years and there is still much concern for this birds future, especially in our own state. Early date records were set for Golden Eagle (Sept. 12) and late ones for Osprey (Nov. 18 – by just one day).

Counting all of the 17,000 birds that have passed overhead would of course have been impossible were it not for the dedicated team of volunteers who have helped man the watch, pick out birds that would have otherwisehave been missed and simply helped get me through the birdless days. There are too many to mention by name but they know who they are, and it has been a pleasure to have met and worked with such a nice group of people. If you didn’t manage to get along to the hawkwatch or join us for the amazing Greenwich Audubon Hawkwatch Festival this year, make sure you add it to your diary for 2010.

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