Thursday, July 27, 2017

Hawkwatching Fun at Annual Kittatinny Roundtable

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary hosted the annual Kittatinny Roundtable this past weekend. HMANA vice-chair Laurie Goodrich organized the event, which this year also included HMANA’s new executive director, Jane Ferreyra; monitoring site coordinator Julie Brown; HMANA chair Carolyn Hoffman and board members Wavell Fogleman, Rich Conroy and Brian Wargo. Also attending were site coordinators from the Kittatinny ridge area of Pennsylvania, also with participation from several Maryland and Delaware sites.

Laurie’s agenda always includes a mix of current raptor research and a roundup of the year’s spring and fall migration.  We heard about Laurie’s broad-winged hawk migration project, which involves trapping several hawks, attaching very small solar-powered transmitters and then monitoring where they are. Her research documents their speed, path south, where they eventually winter, and their path back north. You can learn more about this exciting work here  

We also heard from hawkwatcher extraordinaire Paul Fritz, who showed us his method of keeping his scope stable during strong winds. Paul’s weighted mesh net, with its low center of gravity, has kept his scope upright from Alaska to Pennsylvania.

Brian Wargo shared details about his junior hawkwatcher program, which is modeled somewhat on the national junior ranger program.  He has produced a variety of materials to engage children and youth in the fun of hawkwatching.  These can be downloaded and customized for any site. The templates and full details can be found here.

We also learned about the curricula a Hawk Mountain intern has developed for use in schools. Also, the Pennsylvania Biological Survey’s Northern Goshawk project, which is documenting the decline of nesting by these birds in the state, was another topic.  Finally, but not least, we discussed last year’s migration itself, looking for trends around each site’s big days (or lack thereof) for several species of raptors. For example, we could clearly see that bald eagles are migrating in large numbers throughout the fall, and that as their numbers increase, reports of osprey sightings decrease, except along the coastal sites.

As ever the roundtable was great fun and a great way for hawkwatchers from many sites to talk about hawks during summer months when hawkwatching is a bit slim. The roundtable lets us interact with the hawkwatchers we don’t normally get to see because once migration starts we are each at our own sites.  Thanks again to Laurie for organizing this always informative and fun annual event.

FYI:  HMANA is working towards organizing similar events for other areas, too. All that is needed is to find central locations where several migration sites are clustered within a few hours driving distance of each other. The Great Lakes area and New England are two that would appear to be candidates for a similar event. 

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