Today Kenna Sue Trickey and I (and my dog Shar) drove north of Anchorage about 120 miles to this year’s hawk watch site (a couple of miles from the traditional site). The mountains along the route were stunning with a relatively new coat of snow but the roads were free of ice and snow.
This hawk watch site is being staffed each day for a couple of months by two women working for Hawk Watch International (Caitlin Davis and Rya Rubenthaler). Kenna Sue and I joined them at the site today from 10:30-4:00. For much of the day we were also joined by Courtney Brown and a couple of men whose complete names I did not get. It was a beautiful day. The weather was a few degrees above freezing, there was sun for part of the day and the wind was mostly not very strong. As the day went along some of the watchers even shed their heavy parkas.
Today we saw my three goal birds for the day: three new raptors for my year, RED-TAILED HAWK (mostly HARLAN’S) (about 14), GOLDEN EAGLE (3), AND ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK (4, half dark and half light). Most of these birds were first seen very far away generally to the east. Some of them drifted off and were not seen to come overhead at all while others steamed on by usually quite far up above us. Because of the bright sky it was often very difficult if not impossible for me to find the distant birds in my camera, but every now and then it worked. Even then, the birds usually appeared as little dots (see first picture below in which there is a bird). In addition to these three new raptors there were a couple of Northern Goshawks and a Bald Eagle, as well as Common Ravens and a Boreal Chickadee (and apparently fly-by Lapland Longspurs which I did not see but just heard and decided to wait to count until later this year).
It was a great day. I’m sure it will be a while until I again add that many birds in a single day.
129 species for the year