Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Hazel Rocks and Wedding Bells Ring!

Those who keep up with the fall migration reports from the various "hotspots" around the continent might recognize the familiar sign-off phrase from the Corpus Christi watch:  "Hazel Rocks!"  Dane Ferrell and Libby Even have been the count leaders at Hazel Bazemore (Corpus Christi Migration Project) for several years now.  With soaring spirits and hearts they have counted several hundreds of thousands of hawks passing the site.  And Hazel (the affectionate nickname for the site) indeed rocks during fall migration.  So far this season over 225,000 individual hawks of 23 raptor species have been counted there.  The highest numbers by far are provided by the huge kettles and streams of Broad-winged Hawks heading toward their wintering grounds in Central and South America.  Dane's and Libby's clickers kick into overdrive as they concentrate on the counts.
Broadwings streaming from a kettle over Hazel Bazemore County Park

Along with small kettles and streams of Mississippi Kites and smaller numbers of Swallow-tailed Kites, Hazel's skies also yield some great views of south Texas "specialties," such as White-tailed Hawks, Harris' Hawks, Crested Caracaras, along with the occasional but regular Zone-tailed and less-regular Short-tailed Hawks. The second half of Hazel's season sees increased numbers of Swainson's Hawks.  Check  www.hawkcount.org for more information on the counts from Corpus Christi.

It was on the watch platform (worthy of another essay another time!) that Dane and Libby brought the migration day to a close on the twenty-second of September this year.  Earlier in 2012 an email had announced "Save the date!"  Friends of the couple from as far away as England and the west coast, convinced that Dane was a confirmed bachelor, rejoiced at the happy news.  So on September 22, surrounded by family members and their many hawkwatching friends, Libby and Dane were married.  As the ceremony began, the last of the day's migrant Broad-wings settled into the trees for a night's rest.

In a magical moment acknowledging the miracle of migration and their own soaring hearts and spirits the couple released over a dozen monarch butterflies into the air. Some immediately flew skyward while others came to rest on the bride's bouquet where they remained as the newlyweds left the platform.  Best wishes, Libby and Dane.  Hazel rocks!

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