Saturday, October 24, 2015

Baywatch Report

Below is a quick rundown of what Katie the Baywatcher has been seeing.

"The Baywatch started on October 3rd, delayed by the hurricane that threatened to come up from the south. The weather pushed some Parasitic Jaegers into the bay and there was one detected on the first and second day of the count. Terns were abundant in the beginning of the count, and have been replaced by waterfowl. Black Scoters and Surf Scoters are the most abundant. Canada Geese, Blue-winged Teal, Green-winged Teal, Wood Ducks, American Wigeon, American Black Duck, and scaup have also been identified thus far. Common Loons are also becoming more prevalent."

Friday, October 23, 2015

Katie Rittenhouse, Baywatch Extraordinaire

In addition to the annual hawkwatch, Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory also funds an annual baywatch program to monitor the migration status of many different waterbirds. This year, Katie Rittenhouse is the hired watcher and she's been doing a marvelous job, sitting out there day after day keeping track of the birds she sees. Katie has also served as the hawkwatcher in previous years but decided to try something different this year.
Pictured above is Katie Rittenhouse, our baywatcher as she scans for waterbirds.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Mantis and the Monarch

Our monarch biologist, Angela Zappalla has been taking some very neat photos lately and I thought I would share on the blog.
Apparently the Monarch's less than tasty reputation didn't deter this mantis from having an afternoon snack.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Festival Weekend II

Above is our Monarch Biologist, demonstrating the tagging techiniques she performs every day.

Festival Weekend

By: Graham Scarbrough

CVWO got to help celebrate the Birding Festival this past weekend by giving various presentations which included one on raptor migration and another on Monarch Butterfly migration. Hawkwatch intern Graham Scarbrough, Hawkwatcher Eli Gross, and CVWO President Brian Taber tag-teamed the raptor presentation and Monarch Biologist Angela provided a tagging demonstration of a Monarch Butterfly. It was another successful festival and fun was had by all on up on the platform.
Pictured above is Hawkwatch Intern Graham Scarbrough as he talks about raptor migration.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Crisis Averted

By: Graham Scarbrough

As many people already know, hurricane Jaoquin had us coastal dwellers quite nervous as it arose in the south. Luckily, it changed course allowing us to breath a sigh of relief. For about four days however, we were socked in by rain and winds, causing the raptor flight to slow almost to a stop. This caused a sort of bottling effect and on the day that the skies cleared (10/5), we had quite a flight. Our total number was 4330, with Sharp-shinned Hawks taking the largest piece of the pie. Merlins also had a nice flight of over 300. We had one visitor that was particularly interesting: a tail-less Cooper's Hawk. We did get a good picture of it as it passed over the platform and I hope to get a copy to post soon. The following day (10/7) was not too shabby either with over 2000 birds total. The peregrines have not made a large push yet but we hope that will change soon.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Winged Wizard

By: Graham Scarbrough

One of the treats offered by hours upon hours spent on the observation platform is the occasional brief, intimate look into the lives of the wildlife that surrounds it. Of course, seeing 390 Merlins pass overhead in a single day is exhilarating; but for myself, it is the more personal experiences that hold a special place in my memory. I can try to describe what it was like seeing a Peregrine Falcon stoop across the sky and miss snatching a Merlin by a matter of inches as it back-flipped, allowing the larger falcon to pass just underneath. I can attempt to articulate how a Merlin displayed its athletic ability by plucking a Tree Swallow right out of the air, or how another Merlin possessed an almost puzzled look as sat on a nearby pole and picked at the aluminum band around its leg. But I know all of that would be useless. The only way to fully appreciate those experiences is to have been there and seen them with ones own eyes.
I love the modern camera as much as the next person but I must admit: I often find myself remembering the picture more readily than the memory itself. Some of my most cherished memories are only in my mind and I believe that is not a coincidence. What makes those memories so valuable to me is that they, and the feelings associated with them, remained uncaptured by video or a photograph. Whether they were moments of awe inspired by nature, or moments filled with a most profound sense of love, or friendship, they will always be in me. Not possessed by me, but filling me, and the few others fortunate enough to share in such a moment.

"All conservation of wildness is self-defeating, for to cherish we must see and fondle, and when enough have seen and fondled, there is no wilderness left to cherish." - Aldo Leopold

I did my best, but I don't think a million pictures could have done this bird justice. Merlin with band on its right leg. Photo courtesy Eli Gross.