Hawkwatching Time

Fall is the time for southward migration, with the best time to see migrating birds in our area being right after a cold front passes, when winds are from the northwest. And the best place to see migrating hawks and other raptors is at the Cape May Point State Park, on the Hawkwatch Platform next to the parking lot, where the official NJ Audubon counters are joined by helpful interns and dozens, sometimes hundreds of folks just there to watch. Friday was an excellent day for it, though sadly I only had about half an hour to spend there after working in the morning and before going to the Cape May Bird Observatory for my afternoon volunteer time at the desk. It was still great, though!

I saw probably fifty hawks in that short time, mostly Sharp-shinned, but also a few Merlins, as above in this fine photo by Terry Sohl, and I did see one eating a small bird on the wing, like this one. “Packing lunch,” as one birder put it. I missed the immature Golden Eagle by about an hour or so, but didn’t feel too bad, having seen one in Wyoming a month ago.

Here’s the Hawk Count tally board for the previous day and totals for the season. You can find count lists on the CMBO website HERE, if you’re interested. Next weekend I’ll be helping lead field trips for the Fall Weekend event run by NJ Audubon. Hope the weather’s this good then!

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