Hosted by Hawk Mountain and newly-minted PhD. Laurie Goodrich, their senior monitoring biologist, this year hawk counters came from as far away as Allegheny Front hawkwatch in the west to the northern New Jersey sites in the east. I think Picatinny Peak had to drive the farthest but I didn’t do the math on that. In any event, counters from Rose Tree Park, Scotts Mountain, Montclair, Bake Oven Knob, Hawk Mountain, Waggoners Gap, Jacks Mountain and Militia Hill were also there.
The format of the roundtable discussion is that for selected species we look at the peak migration day of the season and the total season count for that species. Was the peak day earlier or later than usual? Who got the big Broad-winged Hawk flight? Did one site have a terrible result but the neighboring site do well? How did weather impact this past season? How do the results look when compared with previous years? The discussions help to provide a more regional perspective on the past season than is possible when only looking at results from a single site.
A few sites claimed “bragging rights” this time around. Militia Hill near Philadelphia tallied more Broad-winged Hawks for the season than any other eastern site with their 13,436 and 7600 on their big day. Allegheny Front posted more Golden Eagles than any other eastern site with 204. The 2009 season turned out to be a bit lackluster for most of the sites. Nothing looked disastrous, with even the American Kestrel posting numbers a bit higher than we’ve seen over the past few years. The Bald Eagle and Peregrine Falcon are major successes virtually everywhere. Overall, the seasonal numbers looked about average, perhaps a tad below average, but only a tad.
But even a lackluster migration season can’t dampen the enthusiasm when you put all those hawkwatchers and counters in the same room for a day. It’s not often that we get a chance to get together and talk about hawks all day with other hawkwatchers, and that alone is well worth the drive.