By Joe Sebastiani, Seasonal Program Team Leader
On October 12, I led a program called the Cape to Cape Hawk Watching Adventure for the Delaware Nature Society. This program was originally the brainstorm of Bill Stewart, but he was unable to lead the program on the scheduled date, so I stepped in for him. The idea was to visit the Cape May Hawk Watch, then take the ferry over to Lewes, and visit Cape Henlopen Hawk Watch for a full day of raptor migration.
As planned, we trekked to Cape May, leaving Ashland Nature Center at 6am, and arrived around 8am. The sky was swarming with raptors like American Kestrel, Merlin, Sharp-shinned Hawk, and many others. Hundreds of Pine Siskins and thousands of Tree Swallows swarmed by as well. The highlight, however, was an act of piracy by a juvenile Bald Eagle. It chased an Osprey that had a fish until the Osprey gave up and let go of its prey. The fish flew through mid-air over our heads, and in a move that would qualify it for Barnum and Bailey’s Circus, the Bald Eagle twisted around and snatched the fish. Amazingly, Hank Davis caught the transaction on his camera, and it is included in the short video below.
Also featured are other birds we saw that Hank photographed, including a rare Clay-colored Sparrow. The ferry was followed by a parade of gulls on our trip to Lewes, but Cape Henlopen Hawk Watch proved to be slow. Where did the hundreds of raptors we saw go that we saw pass Cape May? Apparently some may fly out over the ocean, up Delaware Bay, or disperse in some other fashion into Delmarva on their way south. The day of our visit was not one where they flew straight across to Cape Henlopen, which happens on many days. Enjoy the video, and pay each of those Hawk Watches a visit some time this fall if you can.