Sunday, September 29, 2013

Holiday Beach Hawk Fest - 22 Sep 2013

I was invited to give a Digiscoping Talk at the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory's Hawk Festival on Sunday, 22 September 2013.  The festival ran for two weekends: the 14-15th and 21-22nd.

Robin and I arrived at the Hawk Tower shortly before 11 am and found a bustling of activity.  A tent with rehabilitating raptors held some nice goodies: American Kestrel, Barn Owl, Great Horned Owl, and a Peregrine Falcon.  I took a few snapshots before going over to chat with Bob Pettit, President of HBMO.

It was clear and breezy this morning, so the morning hawk flight was fast and somewhat furious.  Sharp-shinned Hawks took front stage, with two and three birds bulleting over the trees and zipping past the tower at very high speeds.  They tended to fly between the tower and the overhead sun, so images were somewhat backlit.  But they were close enough to photograph for a change.  A few birds even tried to buzz the Great Horned Owl statue that was mounted atop the tower.

Northern Harriers, Red-tailed Hawks and Turkey Vultures also made their presence felt, with a few small kettles of Broad-winged Hawks making elevated appearances, as well.

Below the tower, Dorothy Balkwill and team presented to the crowd some Sharp-shinned Hawks, Merlins, and a juvenile Peregrine Falcon that had been caught and banded.  From atop the tower I tried to photograph the expressions on the little ones' faces as they got to hold and release the freshly-banded birds.

Shortly before the talk Robin and I walked down to the beach to hang out a bit and enjoy the afternoon sunshine.  As I scanned the trees behind the beach I spotted a Merlin perched on a dead snag, so I grabbed the scope and headed over to digiscope it from about 50 feet away.  Lovely bird!

Though they would only count ~400 birds during the day, I had a great time, and can't wait for next year's festival.  A summary of the day's count can be found at HawkCount.

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