Sunday, December 3

Middle Creek WMA

Well, the Sandhill Crane is still at Middle Creek. Its been there for several weeks now and I have to wonder if its because of the nice fall weather we have been having. With this recent cold snap and possible snow tomorrow morning I wonder if its going to take off and head down to Florida. Unfortunately it was too far away to get a good enough view to take pictures but maybe I will post them later after I have gone through all my images.
The ducks were nice, with the shovelers being very photogenic. I even took a digivid of them swirling around and "shoveling" which I had never seen so upclose before.



As i was leaving a Red-tailed Hawk flew over the road and landed very close so I pulled over. When it didn't fly I decided to pull out the scope and miracle of miracles it stayed put only 10ft off of the road for at least 10 minutes while I snapped about 60 pictures of it at different angles. Here is the only one I edited so far, and it is not the best shot I got.

Red-tailed Hawk

Friday, December 1

Cool Owl Videos

I have recently run across several cool owl videos. This first one is from 2006 in nw Montana where they had a large number of Snowy Owls move into the area. Check it out on explorebiodiversity.com.

This second video is a Barred Owl being attacked by a pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. It is amazing how calm this owl is as the birds bombard his head.



And lastly, here is some footage of a Burrowing Owl, a western species that actually lives in the ground.

Thursday, November 23

Hawk Trapping

I went hawk trapping on Wednesday near Bedford, PA with the goal of trapping Golden Eagles. During the time that I was at the station we saw 29 Golden Eagles and 1 adult Bald Eagle but no eagles flew into our traps. Luckily we did catch two Red-tailed Hawks and banded them.

Red-tailed Hawk


Both times that we caught the red-tails Jon Good and I were up at the hawk watch above the trapping station and got to watch the birds fly in, look down at the trap and dive straight down to it. That was a pretty spectacular flight. Then we drove down to the trapping station as quickly as we could.

Red-tailed Hawk

Thursday, October 26

Hawk Mountain movie clip

Berks.tv recently did a short feature on Hawk Mountain and so you can listen and watch the president, Lee Schisler talk about the migration and history on Berks.tv.

The Halloween Post

We all had a great time at the haunted house and the corn maze was also a lot of fun. The scariest part of the haunted house was the room that slowly started closing in on you...I was glad I am not claustrophobic.
Tomorrow the fun is going to continue with some pumpkin carving at Shaumboch's and then Friday evening we are having a Halloween party at the same place.

Keeping with the scary Halloween theme, here is a picture of a Black Vulture, because thats the scariest I can do.

Black Vulture

Friday, October 20

Busy week

This was an incredibly busy week. Let's see, we went shopping for winter boots for the other interns on Tuesday, grocery shopping on Wednesday, Thursday was a talk on mountain gorillas at Kutztown University and now today we are going to a corn maze and haunted house! Here is a picture of a large boot we found while shopping...


I got rained out twice this week at the North Lookout, the second time was today and I spent a pleasant hour at the top in clouds until I figured no birds were gonna be coming. That was a good decision because soon after the rain came hard.

Tomorrow Justine and some of her Messiah friends are coming to Hawk Mountain for the afternoon.

Tuesday, October 10

Fall colors and slow/busy weekend

The leaves are getting better everyday up at Hawk Mountain, maybe in one or two weeks they will reach their peak.

River View Overlook
Here is the view from River View Overlook, one of the "secret lookouts."


Columbus Day weekend was incredibly slow for birds but very busy for visitors. On Sunday I think we had over 1,500 visitors going up the mountain at least as far as the South Lookout. It was too bad we barely got over 100 birds each of the three days. This coming weekend looks like it will be a lot better because a cold front will be going through tonight and then another on Friday night. We will see what happens.

Last night the guys had a fun time grilling chicken and hanging out while the girls were still up at North Lookout.

Saturday, October 7

Longwood

It's been a long time since I posted anything because I have been too busy. I had Thursday afternoon and all day Friday off so I got to watch Justine's field hockey team play Donegal and then visit Jon Thom @ Longwood Gardens. The gardens were pretty cool and in full bloom. The indoor gardens were particularly cool as well as the ponds with water lilies.

Water Lily Water Lily Water Lily

Tomorrow is the Big Sit! and I am gonna see if tomorrow's counters want to participate in that at all. It's a national event, with teams competing to see how many species they can see and hear from inside a 17-ft diameter circle.

This weekend is particularly long because we are going to be doing programs on Monday as well because of Columbus Day. I had the Raptor Study Techniques program today with Talal and I don't have it for the rest of the weekend so the "hardest" part is over. Tomorrow I will be at the North Lookout in the morning and at South in the afternoon. The winds look like they will change to NW in the afternoon and so the flight could be very good. Monday is supposed to also be NW winds so it could also be a good flight day. We had our second Golden Eagle today, as well as my 2nd Red-shouldered Hawk of the season so the later birds are already here. Now we are just waiting on Goshawk and Roughleg.

Saturday, September 23

Back from Cape May

Our trip to Cape May was very good and packed. We arrived at the Cape May Point State Park for the hawk watch around noon and were treated to fantastic views of Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks as well as the three falcons, American Kestrel, Merlin and Peregrine Falcon. We stayed at the hawkwatch platform for quite a while as the flight was exceptionally good and around 5 headed to the end of Sunset Blvd to see if we could see any of the Merlins chasing dragonflies for their evening meal. We saw quite a few Merlins ripping the wings off of dragonflies while they were flying and also got to watch two Harriers gliding over the grasses. That was all the birding that was accomplished on Thursday.
On Friday we got up pretty early so that we could get to Higbee's Beach WMA and watch the warbler flight there. Cape May Bird Observatory has a tower set up along the beach in a break in the trees that warblers will fly across in the hundreds or even thousands on a good morning. The challenge is to identify the warblers (and other songbirds in their drabber fall plumages) while they are flying past you, one of the biggest challenges in bird ID. I had good looks at Black-and-white Warblers, Northern Parulas, American Redstarts and Red-eyed Vireos. From Higbee's we went back to CMP State Park to do some hawk trapping, catching about a dozen birds (Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks) at the station I was at. Here I am holding a Cooper's Hawk.

Holding a Cooper's Hawk

We trapped until noon when we headed back to the hawk watch and stayed for several hours until it slowed down. Along the beach there were more Palm Warblers than I think I have seen in my entire life. There were quite tame and allowed me to get some good photos.

Palm Warbler

Ducks were also becoming more numerous in the ponds at the state park although most were in their eclipse plumage which is mostly brownish and makes most of the species of ducks look similar.

American Wigeon

We then headed up the coast stopping at several locations along the way to see cirds such as American Oystercatcher, Willet, Ruddy Turnstone and best of all, one Marbled Godwit! At Stone Harbor Point there was not much except some Caspian Terns and also some Black-bellied Plovers that I got this picture of...

Black-bellied Plover


It was a very good trip. Today it rained most of the day so we were not up at the lookouts, giving us a much needed break. Justine came up for a couple hours and that was fantastic to see her. A great ending to a great week.

Monday, September 18

Weekend Photos

The weekend was fairly slow, hawkwise, with only a couple hundred birds each day. The highlight on Saturday was the Black Vultures that perched so picturesquely at the front of the lookout.

Black Vulture

Cedar Waxwings have also been a big hit, with up to 2,000 being counted one day. They enjoy eating the berries from the mountain ash bushes that are on the lookout.

Cedar Waxwings

Friday, September 15

Rainy Day

Today I was supposed to count on the North Lookout but the rain was a spoiler. I stayed at the lookout long enough to get good looks at a Blackpoll Warbler and two Ruffed Grouse and then hiked back down. Our excitement yesterday was when a Chipping Sparrow hit the window and was stunned for a while, letting me get good pictures of it. It then took off a little later and seemed fine. There was a Sharp-shinned Hawk flying around and I think the hawk scared the sparrow into the window.

Chipping Sparrow

Thursday, September 14

Cape May canceled

Unfortunately due to the rainy weather our field trip to Cape May was postponed until next week. On the bright side I did see my life Connecticut Warbler today in the rain.

Record Broadwings


On Tuesday I was assigned to be at the South Lookout, counting whatever hawks were migrating past. Well soon after I arrived at the lookout at 9am I got a call from the other lookout that there was a huge Broad-winged Hawk migration under way. The sky looked something like the picture on the left for the next 2 hours. The first hour I counted 1500 Broadwinged Hawks flying over and then between 10 and 11 I counted 4000 Broadwings flying over! Hawk Mountain ended up with 7508 Broadwings for the day, the 5th highest count ever at Hawk Mountain and the highest in the last 25 years. It was what the original curator Maurice Broun would have called a red letter day. The biggest day on record was over 21,000 Broadwinged Hawks in one day.