Tag Archives: hawk

Skywatch

I pulled up to the stop sign at the end of Beech Road heading to work after the Thursday Morning birdwalk.  I glanced both ways and then up.  Way above me a hawk soared, making lazy circles in the sky.  It was pretty high but as it turned and twisted in the air, the tail flashed red.  Migration is in full swing here, but this beautiful Red-tailed Hawk obviously had no intention of hitting the highway er, flyway just yet.

For other skies, noodle around out at Skywatch.

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Filed under Local schmocal, migration, Photos

Mount Peter Hawk Watch Labor Day

While I was hanging out in the Catskills yesterday, I met up with Judy and Rosie from NJ.  Judy runs the hawk watch at Mount Peter.  As the 3rd oldest hawk watch (after Hawk Mountain and Montclair) it is run entirely by volunteers.  She asked me if I could pop over for a work detail to cut down small trees and bushes that were impinging the view of the skies from the hawk watch platform.  Being Labor Day Monday, she was concerned that she would not have a full crew  (Mount Peter is only 15 minutes from my house and she also promised ice cream.  So, hey.)  With a bucket full of loppers, saws, clippers and gloves, I showed up at 9:30 ready to go.

There were quite a few people already repairing the platform when I got there.  With hammering in the background, we started to cut any small trees and gather garbage and beer cans from under the bushes.  As I wandered knee-deep in highbush blueberries, goldenrod, raspberry bushes and wild mountain asters, I cut down oak, pignut, and tree of heaven saplings.  The sun shone from a cloudless sky, yet it was cool in the shade.  The virginia creeper spiraled crimson up the cedars and the wild grapes hung heavy with the its sour fruit.  The blueberry bushes were full of hard green blueberries.  I made a mental note to check on their progress next time I came up.

Suddenly there came a shout, the hammering stopped and all eyes looked skyward.  Our first hawk flew south.  It was a Broadwing.  It’s disapperance was met with a cheer.  As the day progressed, we had resident Red-tails swirling over the valley, Turkey Vultures loafing on the microwave tower, Hummingbirds buzzing overhead and 1 monarch butterfly floating past.  I am looking forward to spending more time on the platform this year.  Hawk watching season has officially started running from Sept 1 through mid November.  Come on over and hang out.

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Filed under Local schmocal, migration

Hawk on a wire

What the?  I slammed on the brakes and swerved onto the shoulder of the road.  I had seen the oddest hawk on a wire.   It had a huge eye and gray head.  We watched it as it watched us.  We couldn’t figure it out.  Big eye, no huge eye, gray head, look at the crest blowing in the breeze, very mottled back, very long legs and was that 3 bands on the tail?  Being on the west coast and out of my element, I wasn’t sure.  It could be anything.  I flipped open my ancient travel Petersen’s.  It didn’t fit any of the descriptions.  I looked back.

It had turned around.  With the red chest it had to be a Red-shouldered Hawk.  I have never seen one with a gray head before.  The Red-shouldered Hawks at home, do not perch on wires, are more woodsy and I usually see and hear them flying high above the trees.  He certainly had us going for a while.

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Filed under Photos, Travel

The storm

Jeff eased the truck to a stop and reached down to put it into 4-wheel drive.  He rubbed his eyes; it had been a long night. The snow was coming down now as tiny glittery crystal shards. He peered through the windshield calculating whether he would be able to get up the drive.  24 inches was a lot of snow.  He lowered the plow, revved the motor and started up the long hill.

Six more houses to go-then home.

The west wind howled around the house and blew snow across the road as he finally turned into his driveway.  Lowering the blade and starting to scrape, by force of habit he glanced up at the house for lights.  There was a faint glimmer in the kitchen; he shrugged, he must have left the light on over the stove.  That was not like him, but he had stumbled out when he got the call.

After finishing the drive, he parked down by the garages – ready to leave again for the next round.  He gathered up the shovel and salt to start clearing the walk.  As he came around the side of the house, the front door opened a crack and a hand with a steaming cup of coffee reached out.  He stopped stunned.  He knew that hand.  His son, Mike, must have come home during the storm.  He smiled gratefully, took a big gulp, burnt his tongue and set the mug down on the porch.  He hoped Mikey would stick around for a while this time.

As Jeff  started to shovel a path to the back of the house, he noticed the indentations in the snow.  Apparently Mike had been out to fill the feeders sometime during the storm.  The feeding stations were packed.  There were birds perched on the branches of the trees and shrubs.  There were Cardinals and Juncos on the ground eating seed.

Suddenly they all scattered.

Jeff looked up scanning the sky.  It must be a hawk, but he saw nothing.  A few of the finches settled back down on the Nyger sack.  A Downy Woodpecker hadn’t moved from the suet cage that hung from a nail hammered into the oak.

Jeff stamped his feet and rested the shovel against the house.  He stretched his back.  His shoulders ached.  He turned to go in the house when a brown hawk streaked across the yard.  The birds disappeared again.  The downy looked up and froze, its beak smeared with suet.  The Sharp-shinned Hawk flew off banking to make another run.

The Downy flew up to the underside of a large horizontal branch and hunkered down.  It became a flat black and white smear.  Jeff froze too.  The Sharpie flew past the oak again completely ignoring him. The Downy did not move.  Jeff could see it; but hidden under the branch, the Sharpie could not.  The hawk circled a few more times, and then flew off still searching.

Jeff picked up the stone cold mug and opened the door to warmth and the smell of bacon. The snow had stopped but the sky still looked ominous.  He was ready for breakfast and a nap.  He glanced through the window as he shrugged out of his coat and saw the downy  once again up to its beak in suet.

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