Monday, December 23, 2013


Braddock Bay Hawkwatch Platform - Luke Tiller
2014 sees HMANA's 40th anniversary, and to celebrate we are holding our 40th Anniversary Conference: 40 years connecting hawks and people. The event will take place between April 25 and 27 at Braddock Bay, which is just north of Rochester, New York.

I was lucky enough to be counting at Greenwich Connecticut when we held our last conference in 2012 and so got to experience all the fun of the event from my home turf. Most exciting to me about Greenwich was getting to make connections with other raptor aficionados from across the country and beyond. Two years later I am still in regular touch with many of those participants and attendees and consider them friends made. That's not to say that there wasn't plenty else to enjoy including: a wonderfully humorous and passionate talk by key note speaker Pete Dunne, lively panel discussions, fun field trips and fascinating lectures. Though it will be a tough event to top, I am convinced next years event is lining up to be even better.

The conference next April already boasts two excellent keynote speakers in Keith L. Bildstein and Richard Crossley. Keith is the Director of Conservation Science at Hawk Mountain and is renowned in the world of raptor conservation for his wide ranging research and accessible publications. As well as being the author of the Crossley ID Guide series (including this year's well received Crossley ID Guide: Raptors), Richards driving passion is to promote conservation by popularizing birding and I say what better way to popularize birding than to promote the coolest birds going: hawks, falcons and eagles!

Happy Hawkwatchers at Braddock Bay - Luke Tiller
As well as the keynote speakers there will be panel discussions on a variety of relevant topics, lectures on everything from how the latest technology is informing our understanding of raptor migration to how to develop outstanding educational programming. Apart from the talks, there will be workshops on raptor photography from some of the leading exponents in the field, classes on raptor identification from the experts out on the hawkwatch platform as well as field trips to local birding hotspots. There will also be additional more extensive field trips out to nearby birding hotspots and points of interest including the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, Derby Hill and other nationally renowned sites like Montezuma NWR. All these events will be lead by expert local guides and it will also be a chance to meet the guides who lead for HMANA's national and international tour programs.

The festival also takes place the same weekend as our host organizations 'Bird of Prey Days' event, so other events over the weekend will include tours of the legendary Braddock Bay Raptor Research (website here) and Braddock Bay Bird Observatory’s (website here) banding stations, live bird of prey shows and opportunities to try out the latest optics and birding related products at the trade show among the myriad of other fun events.

The only way to count all the birds at Braddock Bay - Luke Tiller
If that wasn't enough to tempt you, the festival just happens to fall on the same magical date that has historically seen the two largest raptor flights in Braddock Bay Hawkwatches history: April 27th. Of course if we do have days either like this or like this it might be hard to drag yourself away from the hawkwatch platform to see all the other amazing events. If you can't imagine what counting a 40k bird flight is like, here is my write up of the big day on April 27th 2011 on my blog (here) which was also published in HMANA’s Hawk Migration Studies magazine.

Some more information about the event can be found on the HMANA website (here).  Bookings will go live from early January so look out for notices online, via email and in our forthcoming journal. I'm sure you are as excited as I am to get booking - look forward to seeing you all in Rochester in April!

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