Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sights and Sayings from the Hawkwatch

[Bald Eagles chasing Ospreys are regular sightings at the Cape May, NJ hawkwatch, but this one has a twist - the Osprey has not a fish, but a clam stuck to a talon. Maybe that's why the eagle eventually broke off chase. We can age this eagle, by the way, as a second year by the ragged trailing edge of the wing, which has a mix of longer juvenile feathers from last year and newer, shorter feathers which have replaced juvenile ones. Click to enlarge photos.]
Well, with north winds overnight it looks like tomorrow should be a good day for passerine migrants at your favorite patch, which for me would be, but won't be, Higbee Beach WMA, since I'll be travelling to West Virginia for some training. Bummer. But spending the late afternoon on the hawkwatch at Cape May Point, NJ was a fine consolation, with a good falcon flight. Official counter Tom Reed said today would be his first four-figure flight of the fall.
The best line of the afternoon comes courtesy of Tom Johnson, who spoke tongue-in-cheek as he joked and coaxed Richard Crossley to come out to morning flight tomorrow. Tom deadpanned,
"But we need the elders to tell us what the birds are, so we can add them to our lists."
Anyone who knows Tom knows he doesn't need help i.d.'ing birds - he among other things writes the ABA's photo quiz column in Birding - so this line really had me chuckling. Not to mention the "elder" part directed at Richard, who still strikes one as young even though he's been on the birding forefront for a long time. Richard, in turn, made a remark about all the young guns. . .
Many a truth is said in jest, and the "tell us what the birds are so we can add them to our lists" thing happens way too often in the birding world, in my humble opinion. Better to learn from the experts, but then identify the birds on your own.
 [American Kestrel was the most common migrant at the hawkwatch this afternoon, or I think it was, but somehow I didn't manage a good photo of one. Here are the other two falcons, Peregrine Falcon above and Merlin below, in classic postures as they wing past the hawkwatch.]


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