Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Who Needs Hawk Mountain?!

On Monday I discovered that there was some high-altitude hawk migration going on in the sky above my home. So today, at about noon, I took my scope into the backyard and started scanning the sky for raptors, hoping for a repeat performance. My search was soon rewarded. What started as a small stream of birds soon became a great swirling kettle, and within minutes I counted over 300 hawks! This estimate is on the conservative side - I couldn't keep an accurate tally because so many were passing so quickly. They definitely appeared to be moving in a southwesterly direction.

To the naked eye these birds would pass unnoticed, because they are almost impossible to see without the magnification provided by binoculars. Great distance, high altitude, and the quick arrival and departure of these kettles also makes identification of individuals difficult, but my impression was that they were mostly Broad-winged Hawks, with a few Black and Turkey Vultures in the mix. The day's best bird, however, was a bit of a surprise. One of the first soaring birds that I picked out was an Anhinga, circling raptor-like into the distant stratosphere. Score one more for the yard list!

Passerine migration was also evident, albeit somewhat less exciting. Highlights included an Eastern Wood-Pewee and a singing White-eyed Vireo at the far end of the pond.

Other events of the day...my refrigerator has stopped working. All the food I had in it is wasted. And I might soon be transferred to another store, which could offer a more desirable work schedule, but nothing is certain yet...stay tuned...


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