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 at Braddock Bay, NY.
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 and we had tallied an incredible number of raptors.
In all, over the week, we tallied 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) and good numbers and great views of Golden Eagles (especially at Derby Hill, NY). 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-raptor sightings we had bugling Sandhill Cranes passed over the watch, enjoyed the haunting calls of Common Loons from the lake, had a collection of rare King Eiders on the bay, Red-headed Woodpeckers foraging at our feet, Purple Martins, Lapland Longspurs, Snow Buntings…the list goes on and on.
Details and how to sign up for the next HMANA Raptor ID Workshop here: 2015 HMANA Raptor ID Workshop