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Monday, September 21, 2015

10,000 Hawks Just left New England, Headed Your Way!

Pack Monadnock Raptor Migration Observatory in NH had some record days and as of yesterday, 10,000 Hawks, mostly Broad-winged Hawks, had passed over the site this year since the official count started in Sept. On Sept. 17th we had 4,026 raptors and on Sept. 16th we had 3,483 raptors, the third and fourth biggest days in the 11 yr. history of the site since records have been officially kept.

Broad-winged Hawk, adult.  

Broad-winged Hawks soar in groups (called "kettles") on thermals, rising columns of hot air. 

This large kettle was right over the mountain producing "ooohs" and "aahhs" from all. It is very hard to capture the numbers and feeling of a large kettle in a photo. This photo however captures what it was like to see a distant kettle through binoculars, or even a scope. How do we count them? Quickly and often one at a time. See how fast you can count the Broadwings in this photo, go!

When the Broadwings reach the top of the thermal, they "peel off", i.e. glide until they find a new thermal to rise on, an energy efficient means of getting to their wintering grounds in Central and South America. This peel can often make it easier to count the hawks, as they're gliding by one at a time.

The hawks kept pouring through. Spotting scopes were necessary to see the distant kettles. I showed a number of novice hawk watchers kettles in my scope. It's so cool when they say "oh, wow, now I see what you're all looking at!"



Official hawk counter for this site which is run by NH Audubon, is Katrina Fenton, above, aided by the of many other hawk watchers and sometimes enthusiastic school kids on a class outing. 
The numbers are turned in to hawkcount.org, the official website of Hawk Migration Association of North America, where all the numbers are recorded.

Other New England hawk watch sites also have had large numbers. So heads up to hawk watching sites south of us  the hawks are coming to you!!!!

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