Friday, September 25, 2015

The pictures you've all been waiting for...

A Zone-tailed Hawk made its way past the hawkwatch platform on September 23rd and we were fortunate enough to have a guest with an adequate camera to capture some great photos. The bird came right over the platform, floated nicely for a few seconds, and continued southward. The same bird was seen twice on the 24th from the platform. It came by again heading south, and a few hours later came back, this time approaching from the south before going into a very high soar and disappearing from view. Check out the photos below for a nice look. The photos were taken on the 23rd at the first sighting by platform visitor, Charlie Boykin. This is expected to be the first documented state record of a Zone-tailed Hawk in Virginia, so it's kind of a big deal.
Zone-tailed Hawk passing over the platform. Photo courtesy Charlie Boykin.

Zone-tailed Hawk checking out the hawkwatch platform. Photo courtesy Charlie Boykin.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Kiptopeke Hummers

We've enjoyed the company of several Ruby-throated Hummingbirds so far this season. They visit the feeders throughout the day and can often be seen chasing each other around the platform. Recent visitor, Jessica Ausura captured this great photo of three of them the a few days ago. Stay tuned for a photo taken by another visitor of the Zone-tailed Hawk that passed over the platform yesterday and twice today (9/24)!
Three Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, photo credit: Jessica Ausura.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Migration Week!

We kicked off International Hawk Migration Week with a great Merlin flight on Monday (9/21). We had a total of 389 Merlins for the day and over 700 total raptors. The majority of the flight was low and fast right over the treetops in the afternoon, which made for a very fun day for Eli and Graham up on the platform.
Thanks to Hawk Migration Association of America, where we send our hawkwatch data, we are celebrating Hawk Migration Week.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Cooper's Hawk

Recently we had a young Cooper's Hawk stop at a "T" pole near the platform. For those new to raptor identification we were able to identify this birds age based on its plumage and eye color as well. Notice the overall two tone color scheme of this bird. It is brown and white, with brown streaking on the breast. An adult bird is characterized by an orange breast with horizontal barring. The backside of an adult bird is also a more of a slate color than a brown as in the juvenile. Also notice the color of this birds eye. The iris is yellow whereas in an adult bird, the iris is typically orange or red. Although there is not much for scale in this photo, the Cooper's is bigger than its cousin the Sharp-shinned Hawk. This can also be an indicator when distinguishing between the two.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A spark of migration, perhaps?

The raptors are beginning to move in larger numbers out here on the Eastern Shore. Decent numbers of Broad-winged Hawks were spotted kettling on their journey south. However, kestrels took the day with a high of 59. We nearly broke 200 total birds on the 15th and it looks as though the conditions will improve as the week continues, assuming the forecast can be trusted. We have already surpassed our previous high of 193 birds. Today, at 2:30 p.m. we are sitting at 195. On a separate, but related note, Eli spotted a pair of Mississippi Kites soaring past the platform heading south on the 13th. Hopefully the counts will just keep getting bigger and better!

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Fishy Visitor

An Osprey recently appeared at the platform and he packed a lunch! Eli and Graham were fortunate enough to photograph it before it decided to take its lunch to-go. The photo was taken with a camera phone through a spotting scope. So far this season, Ospreys, Bald Eagles, Sharp-shinned Hawks, Cooper's Hawks, Broad-winged Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, American Kestrels, Merlins, Peregrine Falcons, and even a pair of Mississippi Kites have all passed the platform. The passerine movement has been decent as well. No huge numbers of raptors have been reported yet but we hope for that to change within the next few weeks!
Pictured above is one of our avian visitors, the Osprey.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Meet CVWO's New Fall Staff, Part II

Meet Graham Scarbrough. Graham got the raptor bug from trapping and banding hawks and falcons with his dear old dad back in Missouri. He will be our Hawkwatch Intern/Educator for the months of September and October. He can be found on the platform or in the woods nearby, taking "neature" walks with various groups, talking about all the neat things that nature has to offer. If you get the chance, come meet him at the hawkwatch site and he'll be happy to talk about bird migration, the geographical significance of the area, and how CVWO and Kiptopeke State Park work together to make it the best migration hotspot it can be, for the birds and the people!
Pictured above is Graham Scarbrough, our Hawkwatch Intern/Educator

Meet CVWO's New Fall Staff!

Meet Eli Gross. Eli is our Hawkwatcher this year and he travelled all the way from San Francisco, CA to be here, witnessing one of the greatest concentrations of migrating raptors in the country. Eli has volunteered his time at various hawk watches over the past several years and his identification skills are very valued here, as many of the birds are just small silhouettes as they pass over the platform. He arrived at the beginning of September and will be here nearly every day until the end of November. If you get the chance, come out and see him at the platform!
This is Eli Gross, our hawkwatching fiend!