Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Holiday Beach Hawk Festival - 20 Sep 2014

I gave a Digiscoping Workshop today below the Hawk Watch Tower at Holiday Beach Conservation Area in s. Ontario during the 2014 Hawk Festival. It was a beautiful day with high skies, however winds were out of the south so prospects for a big push of raptors was not looking good.

I arrived at the tower just after 10 am and spent 2 hours atop the tower scanning the skies for hawks. Blue Jays were moving by in flocks of 20-30 birds, and almost 1000 birds were counted for the day. Shooting into the sun was difficult, and the birds were moving fast.

Sharp-shinned Hawks were the big movers today, but only about 250 were counted.

Other raptors included a couple of Northern Harriers, American Kestrels, and Merlin. Three Peregrine Falcons were seen today, as well.

A Merlin was captured and displayed for the crowd at the base of the tower. I took some pics of the angry little bird as it was removed from its Pringle's can. When it was finally released it circled the trees then attacked a passing Sharpy that became the object of its anger at being banded.

My non-raptor sightings included Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Red-eyed Vireos, Palm Warblers, Great Egret, Gray Catbirds, and a myriad of ducks: Mallard, Gadwall and Blue-winged Teal.

After a quick lunch I walked around the beach looking for something to photograph, but had to settle for a pair of Black Saddlebags that were hovering in the winds above.

I was itching to digiscope something, so I decided to turn the scope on the rehab raptors in the tent nearby. A Barn Owl, Great Horned Owl, Peregrine Falcon, and Red-tailed Hawk were gathering lots of attention from interested onlookers.

My talk went well, but there was no competing with another bird-banding demo going on nearby, so I kept it short and answered questions for those interested in digiscoping.  I then high-tailed it for the bridge as storms were moving through the Detroit Area.  It was nice to get back out in the field after not birding since the end of August.  Now to pack for another out-of-town trip...

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