Sunday, September 13, 2009
Pack Monadnock, 301 raptors
It was a good birding day watching hawks at Pack Monadnock Raptor Migration Observatory in NH today, with nice, close looks at a wide variety of raptors. They had a total of 301 birds:
204 Broad-winged Hawks
52 Sharp-shinned Hawks
1 Northern Harrier
5 Cooper's Hawks
2 Red-tailed Hawks
12 American Kestrels
1 Unidentified Buteo
11 Unidentified Raptors
The daily hawcount data for Pack Monadnock and other North American Hawkwatch sites can be found on here.
Above are some of my photos from today. I was so close to the Cooper's Hawk it was frame-filling. I was using my Canon Mark 1D II with a Canon 300mm IS lens with a 1.4 teleconverter. I was hand-holding the camera, it gives me the best flexibility for flight photos.
Lots of people were there, including a college class from Daniel-Webster College in Nashua, studying raptors for their first time. It's great fun to help beginner's spot the hawks and point out their field marks. One of my favorite moments was helping 2 women, who got hooked on birding after last year's raptor release day on Pack. I helped them use binoculars better, pointing out that if you wear eyeglasses, keep them on while using the binoculars and adjust the height of the eyecups until you see cleary with no black circles. Usually people with eyeglasses have the eyecups on their binos turned all the way down. However, if your eyeglasses fit so that your eyes are very close to the lens (as was the case with one woman), then you may need to raise the eyecups slightly, until you see clearly. What a difference, good binculars properly adjusted to you, can make in your birding enjoyment!
At first, there was low cloud cover enveloping us, then the clouds lifted up, with more sun, mild winds and more hawks from about 11 am to 2:30 pm. Then it got considerably more cloudy and things slowed down.
There were great views of Cooper's Hawks, Merlins, American Kestrels and Sharp-shinned Hawks. Broad-winged Hawks were seen singly and in small groups of up to about 13 birds.
There are lots (thousands) more Broad-winged Hawks to come this season. Tomorrow through Wednesday should produce bigger flights as the sunny conditions and northerly winds hold.
But, then again, with hawkwatching, you never can know exactly when the big flights will occur. You just have to go (as we do) on every likely day and hope that the weather conditions will be right for the hawks.