Saturday, July 12, 2014

Tour Report: HMANA Raptor ID Workshop 2014

Sharp-shinned Hawk - Catherine Hamilton
 Seven days on the Great Lakes plus a great week of weather divided by two expert hawkwatchers equals 10,928 diurnal raptors of fifteen different species! This is the story of HMANA’s 2014 Raptor ID Workshop.

Held between April 6 and April 12, the workshop assembled participants from the far flung corners of the United States in order to witness the diversity of raptor migration around the Great Lakes and to hone their proficiency as hawkwatchers. A major draw was the rare opportunity to spend a week learning from perhaps one of the most accomplished raptor experts in the country: Frank Nicoletti. Across the board, by the end of an unbelievable week of hawkwatching, everyone’s skills had been sharpened, friendships had been made an incredible number of raptors had been tallied.

Tired but happy hawkwatchers - Catherine Hamilton
In all, over the week, we totaled 135 species of birds. Highlights included: two stunning adult dark Swainson’s Hawks that graced Braddock Bay on back to back days, a Black Vulture - in a down season for them, good numbers and great views of Golden Eagles -especially at Derby Hill. We were also treated to a variety of flavors of Red-tailed Hawks: Dark/rufous morph adults, a Krider’s-like adult (are there many really pure ones left?) and plenty that fitted the seemingly refashionable albieticola subspecies. Rough-legged Hawks of all ages and sexes also put on a great show too, which is always a treat.

Among the non-raptors bugling Sandhill Cranes passed over the watch, we enjoyed the haunting calls of Common Loons from the lake, a collection of rare King Eiders on the bay, Red-headed Woodpeckers foraging at our feet, Purple Martins, Snowy Owls, Lapland Longspurs, Saw-whet Owls, Snow Buntings, Long and Short-eared Owls, Northern Shrike: the list goes on and on and on.

You can see details for the 2015 Workshop on the HMANA Website (here). We hope to see you there.

2014 participants - Catherine Hamilton

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