By Joe Sebastiani, Seasonal Program Team Leader
Today, the Ashland Hawk Watch began its 4th season! We tallied 11 raptors for the day including an Osprey, 3 American Kestrel, 4 Sharp-shinned Hawk, 2 Cooper’s Hawk, and a Merlin, which was the first raptor of the season.
This raptor migration count site is a joint project between the Delaware Nature Society and the Delmarva Ornithological Society, operating daily between September 1 and November 30. It is located at the Ashland Nature Center near Hockessin. Last year, over 13,000 raptors migrated past the Ashland Hawk Watch in the fall. For a real show, plan on a visit between September 15 and 25, which is when it is possible to see hundreds or even thousands of Broad-winged Hawks in a single day. Another tip is to visit within a few days after a cold front when lots of hawks are on the move. However, you can see birds on just about any day, and it is always a good time with a great view of the northern Delaware Piedmont.
A familiar face is back at the helm this year as well. Cyrus Moqtaderi has returned as the official counter for his 2nd season in a row. We are glad to have him back on Hawk Watch Hill!
As we have done in past years, the data we collect is entered in the raptor migration database managed by the Hawk Migration Association of North America. What is new this year, is that the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control has also stepped in as a partner. They have funded the watch through a federal grant, and in return, we are collecting data for them to use, especially when it comes to how high the raptors are flying by. Collecting this data now may be useful in the future if more wind farms are proposed for Delaware. With our data, we can better understand the potential impact on migrating raptors that come across wind turbines.
If you would like to visit the Ashland Hawk Watch, the hours are 9am to 4pm daily. Better yet, if you would like to volunteer, we can use some help. Even if you don’t know one raptor from another, we need your help spotting them in the sky. Also, you can help with recording weather and height of flight data. If you know how to identify raptors, even better! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more information on volunteering. Two of the seven days of the week are covered by volunteers from the Delmarva Ornithological Society, so this Hawk Watch is not possible without volunteer help.
If you would like to check our statistics from time to time, or would like to see what we saw in previous years, check out our site at HawkCount.