Same ‘ol same ‘ol

11 04 2012
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Saw-whet Owl - Jill Church

Well here I am back at Braddock Bay Hawkwatch. It’s been an interesting season thus far. Nothing way too exciting to report just the steady tick tick tick of Turkey Vulture flight. Last year was cold and generally miserable punctuated by a day of decent weather that would send a flood of birds coursing across the watch. This year although the winds have been wrong the skies have been clear and even the least opportune of winds has brought movement of some kind or another.

I had already said to numerous friends that I would prefer a steady flow of decent days rather than days of nothing broken by a burst of hawkwatching craziness. Now though I am jonesing for that crazy burst. It’s funny to think that when I first saw the numbers for Braddock I couldn’t understand how the previous watcher had become disenchanted by seasons with 50k + and 35k + birds but when you know what Braddock can be capable of it’s easy to see how frustration and disappointment can set in.

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Golden Eagle - Josh Lawrey

This season hasn’t really seen anything majorly exciting pass by the watch as of yet. 40 Rough-legged Hawks is 40 more than one might see in a season at Quaker Ridge (where I watch in fall) but not a patch on the average of 355 a season or the all time high of 1807 of these corking raptors, as was tallied in 1996. Other favored species are lagging somewhat behind as well with just 15 Golden Eagles so far and an even more depressing tally of just three Northern Goshawks. The 11 Black Vultures have at least equaled a season high and although common enough in my adopted state of Connecticut a ‘kettle’ of four of them was exciting to see along the banks of Lake Ontario.

Away from the hawks things have been a little slow too. A few Sandhill Cranes have made their way through so far and are always a joy to see, but little else of huge note has been located as of yet (a dipped Ross’s Goose and a Eared Grebe I didn’t bother chasing besides). At owl woods it has also been quiet as well with a maximum of three Saw-whets found in one day and recently a whole week without a sniff of these cute little birds.

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Coopers Hawk - Daena Ford

All of this sounds terribly depressing and whiny but really it’s just a reflection on what might be. All that said though it is worth noting that I have already almost tallied as many ‘raptors’ at Braddock as I did all season in fall. The day with a pair of Golden Eagle’s right over the watch, stunning views of an adult Goshawk and a wander at the local park that turned up a Short-eared Owl are all highlight of a season that is less than half done. So with half the season under my belt there is at least the feeling that there are still many many good days to come: Broad-wings, warblers, sparrows and other goodies just to mention a few.

A ‘bad’ month at Braddock is better than many places on the east coast, so one really shouldn’t complain and it’s also a month I have been lucky enough to hang out with old friends from Greenwich like Brian and Pete, meet Frank Nicoletti as well as spend time with many friends old and new from the Braddock Bay region. So enough feeling sorry for myself, it’s time to get back out there and do some more hawkwatching 😉

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2 responses

15 04 2012
Dawn (@DawnFine)

I hope the things pick up for you at the Hawk Watch! Happy Birding to ya!

28 05 2012
steeveetee

Nice post. 🙂

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