Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Great Stratford Bird Festival - Boothe Park Hawk Watch #1

I ran the Boothe Park Hawk Watch as an event for the Great Stratford Bird Festival from 11-2 on Saturday. A big crowd joined me the next day, but Sunday deserves its own entry. So far, in the fall of 2010 we, primarily I and expert birder Charles Barnard Jr., have put in 80.25 hours at the site. We have recorded 4,619 migrant raptors, 3,404 of which were Broad-winged Hawks. The site’s profile, with all of the data, is on the Hawk Migration Association of North America website and located here.

As I have written previously, Boothe Park is located at 5800 Main St. in the Putney section of Stratford. Our count site is between the award-winning rose garden and the historic clock tower, the latter being obvious in photo below. On Saturday, the conditions were horrible for migrating hawks, with gusty southwest winds in a very warm flow. I recorded a shockingly high temperature of 90 at noon with my very precise handheld anemometer.

Suffice it to say very little was flying. In the time I was there, I recorded a grand total of four raptors – one each of Osprey, Bald Eagle, Sharp-shinned Hawk, and American Kestrel. While these are always wonderful sights, spending hours in 90-degree sun only to see a brief distant glimpse of a raptor every 30 to 45 minutes is not exactly fulfilling. I am certainly biased because of some of my recent experiences, such as seeing 876 Broad-winged Hawks in one hour while I was alone at the site on September 20.

We are only at the site when we have a chance, and those moments are rare. Additionally, we often only count when continues are favorable. While this is a bit unscientific, we do not have the liberty of spending copious amounts of time there. I hope that in time we will have enough observers and time to be able to do so. Please feel free to visit and watch with us if you see us at the site. If you notice some strong northwest winds on a Saturday afternoon there is a good shot we will be there.

Photos © Twan Leenders

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