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.
By John Harrod, Manager, DuPont Environmental Education Center
The Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge has a new Osprey nesting platform. DNS worked with Cristina Frank, senior environmental scientist with Pepco Holdings, to install a new platform near the DuPont Environmental Education Center. It can be easily seen at eye levelas you cross the bridge to the building.
New Osprey nesting platform near the DuPont Environmental Education Center. Photo by John Harrod.
This is the second nesting platform in the refuge. The first, which has had an active Osprey pair for eight years, was originally put up as a new home for the birds after they built a nest on transmission lines. The location of the new platform is far enough away that two pair can reside in the refuge without incident.
Original Osprey pair on the first nesting platform. Photo by Jim White.
To help encourage a second pair of Osprey to take up residence on the new platform, it is seeded with an armload of branches.
Seeding the platform with branches to encourage new Osprey residents. Photo by Jim White.
The latest platform was installed as part of a larger project to replace the old, wooden transmission lines passing through the refuge. Pepco will be installing line markers, including spiral bird diverters, to increase the visibility of the new power lines and prevent collision.
We look forward to welcoming a second pair of Osprey to the refuge. Join us at DEEC on Saturday, April 21, for the DNS Earth Day Festival to meet Cristina Frank, learn how new transmission lines are built to protect birds, and hopefully see our newest residents.
This was a great week at the Ashland Hawk Watch. The weather did not look that promising with winds out of the southeast, thick clouds brewing, and periods of rain, but that didn’t stop lots of raptors from flying south. Cyrus Moqtaderi, our official counter, and his dedicated staff of volunteers tallied 1,317 hawks pass Ashland this past Monday through Friday. Highlights include our first Golden Eagle and Northern Goshawk of the season plus over 200 Osprey, which is certainly the best 5-days for Osprey in the history of the Hawk Watch.
Kim Steininger has been our most dedicated volunteer at the Ashland Hawk Watch this year. She captured this image of the Golden Eagle that flew by, 142 meters up.
It was also a great week for Sharp-shinned Hawk with 341, and 208 American Kestrel is excellent. Broad-winged Hawks also made a reappearance on Friday with 247 cruising by. Finally, 15 Peregrine Falcons in 5 days at Ashland is pretty good for this usually coastal migrant. We usually only get around 25 in an entire season.
Kim Steininger also got great photos of this Merlin, which dive-bombed our fake owl near the Hawk Watch.
For one of the best wildlife viewing experiences around, visit the Ashland Hawk Watch, any day now through November. Early October is usually really alive with hawks, so come soon! For all the totals of the season so far, visit our HawkCount site. Also, October 9 is the Big Sit at the Ashland Hawk Watch, where the Twitching Talons team will try to identify as many species from the site as possible…all day long. Lots of good food and good people will be there, so don’t miss it!