Tuesday, August 23, 2016

"HMANA Get-together" Weekend in Cape May - October 14-16

Bald Eagle @ Cape May - Tom Reed
This fall, October 14-16, HMANA will be running the first in what we hope will be a series of low-cost, self-drive events around the country at Cape May, New Jersey. The idea is to pick one place each fall and spring to meet other HMANA members and raptor afficionados at for a weekend of raptor watching adventures. HMANA will provide participants with local expert leadership on the ground and a weekend long itinerary which you can keep to as much as you would like. There will be a reception with food and drinks and we will send you an electronic welcoming pack with loads of inside tips on the area with great ideas on where to stay, where to eat (if you want to say slip away for a romantic meal rather than stay with the group), places you’ll want to visit if you decide to extend your stay, maps and lots of other cool tidbits of information.

Juvenile Peregrine Falcon - Tom Reed
If you’ve ever been to a HMANA Conference, or on one of our longer tours, you will know that one of the best things about them is the opportunity to meet and make friends with people from across the country who love hawks just as much as you do. The idea of these weekend "Get-together" events is to provide members with the same sense of community and chances to make new friends and networking connections as these other events but at a lower cost and with a shorter time commitment.

Golden Eagle - Tom Reed
Of course picking Cape May, New Jersey to kick off the series was something of a no-brainer. The hawkwatch platform must be as close as it is possible to get to hallowed ground for your average hawkwatcher and the whole town is nothing short of a Mecca for most birders. There’s a reason that you will probably find more famous birders per square mile in Cape May than in any other part of the United States and that simple reason is the birds. Cape May is one of those places where migration can be truly magical and it’s probably also one of the only places where the phenomenon of migration has inspired a book about both the place and its characters.

Northern Goshawk - Tom Reed
For hawkwatching fans, Mid-October is a great time to visit the Cape as many falcons and accipiters reach the peak of their fall flight. It’s also a great time to potentially pick up some of those highly prized later migrants like Golden Eagle, Northern Goshawk and Rough-legged Hawk. Mid-October is also edging into vagrant season in Cape May when almost anything that migrates might show up including the possibility of an off course Swainson’s Hawk. I remember my anticipation being so high on my first visit to Cape May that I could barely sleep and the first night I found myself wandering the streets of Cape May at about 3:00am listening to the plaintive calls of migrant thrushes as I waited anxiously for dawn.

Swainson's Hawk @ Cape May - Tom Reed
Expert guidance for this trip will be provided by Tom Reed. Tom is not only a member of the HMANA board but also one of Cape May’s previous hawkwatchers. As well as currently working for Cape May Bird Observatory as their Migration Count Coordinator he is also one of the few employees of CMBO who grew up in the area, making him the perfect person to supply us with a great itinerary and lots of insider information. Tom also provided the incredible photographs that festoon this blog post. We do hope that you can join us for the fun. For more information and to book your place visit our website (here).

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