Wednesday, September 16, 2015

HawkFest 2015 @ Holiday Beach, ON - 13 Sep 2015

Robin and I crossed the Ambassador Bridge and traveled to Holiday Beach Conservation Area for their annual Hawk Festival. A strong NW breeze was blowing on a clear-to-partly cloudy and conditions were ripe for a great flight. It did not disappoint. Holiday Beach would report 8,000+ birds, while Detroit River Hawk Watch would report 16,000+ birds. Most (~7500) were Broad-winged Hawks with Sharp-shinned Hawks pulling fewer numbers but giving much closer looks. The day's summary from HawkCount is here.

We arrived about 10 am and headed to the Hawk Tower where a dozen birders were actively following Sharpies that were blasting by at relatively close range. I spent some time photographing them against a bright sun that produced dark exposures.

As the first Broad-winged Hawks appeared a Swainson's Hawk was among them, but I missed it. I was busy trying to photograph the close-approaching birds.

As I glanced down along the shoreline I noticed a group of people milling around the trailhead; a Red-tailed Hawk was sitting on the trail and was spreading both wings in a threatening posture. It would sit in this catatonic state for about 20 minutes; enough time for me to get down and take some digiscoped images. BTW, it had just been banded and released and wasn't quite over the experience. It flew away shortly.

Meanwhile, a number of mist-netted Sharp-shinned Hawks were being brought to the base of the tower for measurements and release.

A Merlin was also captured and made a great subject even after release.

I returned to the tower top for a bit and photographed more hawks, including a nice Red-tailed Hawk.

My Digiscoping Demonstration never got off the ground. It was impossible to compete with the number of hawks being released nearby, as folks were glued to the stage. We didn't mind. I took a few pics of fly-by Sharpies, and watched a nice kettle of about 2000 Broad-wings flying north of the tower.

We would head back across the bridge at about 1 pm.

Next week is the Detroit River Hawk Watch Festival, and many are anticipating an even bigger flight! Stay tuned...

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