Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The Art of the Hawk Watch. Hawk Watch in Veracruz – River of Raptors
Birding is filled with a myriad of experiences that reward, that enrich us. Among these experiences, in my opinion, none are as satisfying as the often overlooked “Art of the Hawk Watch”
Each spring and fall a select group of birders drop everything to enter the realm of the hawk watch. First impressions can be deceiving, the hawk watch may appear boring, too difficult or too demanding from the exposure to the physical elements (heat/cold/winds) .
For many their first experience at a hawk watch is to spend many hours in the heat or cold and be rewarded by someone pointing out a distant speck and being informed that it was a Cooper’s hawk. After minutes of fruitless searching with the binocular you see something, it turns out to be the bread crumb from your ham sandwich that somehow got stuck on your binocular. When you do finally see something, it turns out to be a gull.
At the end of the hawk watch day (6 hours) you have see 17 birds of prey; 9 Broad-winged hawks , 2 Cooper’s Hawks, 3 Sharp-shinned hawks and 3 Turkey vultures, at least that is what the official counter says. The only good clear view that you got was a low flying Turkey vulture. You think to yourself, hawk watch? Whoopee! Great fun! Next weekend I think I will stay home and count nose hairs in the mirror. This is point where “been there, seen that, done that” can really take it’s toll.
If any of this sounds familiar, I have good news for you, not all hawk watches are the created equal.
I have the excellent fortune of living in the heart of what is probably the greatest migratory flyway for raptors on the face of the earth!
Last year over 5 million raptors, representing some 24 species were counted.

A little over a month ago, I rented a small apartment in Paso de Ovejas. Paso de Ovejas is located about forty minutes from the port city of Veracruz ( to the northwest), on the old highway that goes to Xalapa. I am here in preparation for the fall raptor migrations, River of Raptors .
For those who don’t know, I am a struggling nature photographer and birding guide and for most of the year I live in Tlacotlapan Veracruz ( a nice expanse of tropical wetlands located about two hours to the south of Veracruz)
I will be dividing my time between four weblogs, Birdwatch, Veracruz Hawk watch, Adventures in bird digiscoping and River of Raptors Veracruz. I will share photos, birding observations and try to give you some insight as to my daily life here in Mexico. I appreciate comments and feed back.