Friday, April 16, 2004

Spring hawk watch 2004
Plaza Doña Marta ("Martha" on the plaque in the plaza is a misspell)
April 15, 2004
Tlacotalpan, Veracruz
I spent a total of ten hours observing today. Most of the day the skies were crystal clear. Clear skies will put the skills of any any observer to the test, unless you spot the raptor with binoculars or a scope directly they may very well pass by undetected/uncounted.
Last year was my first time to conduct a hawk watch. As I compare last years count here in Tlacotalpan with this years the biggest difference is that I am scanning the skies more thus finding more. Most of the time I am counting by myself and that is a definite limitation.
I am not counting all the migrating raptors, however I am seeing enough to give an idea as to general movements.
Even at the the "Everest" of all hawk watches, River of Raptors Veracruz which is the fall count in Cardel and Chichicaxtle (where five to six million raptors are counted each season) not everything gets counted, and this is a team of dedicated and experienced counters.
I have to thank Tim Smart for teaching me a few things about spotting and ID. Tim is an excellent counter and his knowledge of raptors is quite complete. One of the things that I recall about Tim in Cardel is the near relentless form in which he is constantly searching the skies.
For those new to a hawk watch one of the most overheard comments is "I don't see anything", many times the problem here is that the binoculars are not pre-focused on a distant part of the sky. As a spotting tip, if you have a cloud with some detail, focus on it. Once focused you should be able to scan the sky and pick up many of the movements of raptors. When the skies are clear and your last focus was the low flying Monarch butterfly, when you get back to searching for raptors you can be certain that you won't see much more than another butterfly.
Today's count
Turkey Vulture 16
Osprey 38
Mississippi Kite 2,494
Northern harrier 1
Sharp-shinned hawk 2
Cooper's hawk 2
Broad-winged hawks 3,993
Swainson's hawk 31
American kestrel 12
Peregrine falcon 1

Non-raptor sightings 26 species include; wood storks, green-breastedmango (hummingbird), roseate spoonbill, blue-gray tanager, tropical kingbird, great-tailed grackle
Good birding all, from my porch rocking chair in Tlacotalpan.
David McCauley

No comments: