Monday, September 21, 2015

Hawk Watch 2015

     This time last year I was unemployed and getting a little worried about finding a new career path. I kept myself busy with outing exploring new places and trying new things. Last year I went on my first hawk watch on Hook Mountain in Nyack, NY. I enjoyed it so much, I was worried that with work, I'd never get to go back.
     Weekdays provide a smaller crowd (9 people today) and a nicer chance to learn and socialize with others who do this often and have done it for many years. Today was all about sharp-shinned hawks, or "sharpies" as they are affectionately known, and Broadwing hawks.
     In my trek up to Hook Mountain I got caught a little off path, but with some common sense and google maps, I found my way up to the overlook, marked by "the owl," a decoy owl that attracts hawks in to the vicinity. Once you see the owl, you know you've made it.
Sharpie coming in after the decoy owl. The sharp-shinned hawks were plentiful and entertaining today.
Same bird as above.
Sharpies are hawks that frequent woodlands, their shorter wings than Cooper's hawks allow them to maneuver quickly , like to avoid branches and tree limbs. One Sharpie was weary of the owl, it flew up the hiking trail and zipped past us, real low, maneuvering like a stealth jet.
We had all three falcon species today, the American Kesterel (above), merlin, and peregrine falcon, which I got to observe in a full on, impressive stoop down toward the Hudson River below.
We also saw this guy, he waved hello. 
Broadwing hawks were very high and almost seemed like specks. Shape and that banded tail and dark outline of the wings were the markings that identified this species for us.
Another Sharpie.
When 2 sharpies got close there would always be an interaction, with chasing, diving, and close fly-bys. 

Got lots of views of turkey and black vultures.
Saw 2 mature and this one raggedy immature bald eagle. He was in the area quite a bit, and flying in the wrong direction- probably a local bird.