Saturday, April 28, 2018

21 Apr 2018: Hawkwatching, and finally no more snow!

The problem with a birding blog is that when the birding is good, there's lots to write about, but no time to write!

Birding is definitely getting good. A few days after that last snowstorm, it was warm and snow-free and getting birdy. That weekend I went birding at the old quarry. The radar had been lit up with birds the night before, and from what I saw that morning, many of the new arrivals were Yellow-shafted Flickers, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Hermit Thrushes, Swamp and Song Sparrows, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Rusty Blackbirds, Brown Creepers, and both kinglets. There was plenty of activity to watch.

It was getting toward noon when I was heading back to where I'd parked my bike, and I started seeing some Turkey Vultures get up to ride the thermals. Last spring I'd seen several Broad-winged Hawks migrating over this bluff on two occasions when they did not count on my green list. I went back by bike several times in the fall, but never saw any BWHA here. I finally happened upon one on a bike trail a little farther from home - my only BWHA for my green list last year. I didn't want to miss them this year!

As I walked, a couple of ladies saw my binoculars and asked what all the hawks were. I told them they were vultures, and they asked about "the tan ones", and I started explaining about how Turkey Vultures have translucent feathers that look paler. They thought that was fascinating - then pointed behind me and asked, "So all those are vultures?" I looked back to see a larger kettle of vultures than any I'd yet noticed, and among them was a Broad-winged Hawk (#110)! 

So yes, curious nonbirders can be helpful for spotting new species!

I walked a little farther to a nice place to lie down on a section of the old quarry road, facing south. I had a great view of more hawks as they circled up and then sailed north over me. I tallied 14 Broad-wings over the next 30 minutes or so, and small numbers of a few other species - nothing like the big hawkwatching hotspots, I'm sure, but still fun.

If The Sibley Guide to Birds had a theme song, that's what I would be hearing every time I had this view of a Red-tailed Hawk...

Cooper's Hawk-shaped speck

Nice birdy morning with 54 species on the list, including 7 FOGYs.

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