We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
The autumn hawk migration has begun around here. It's a wonderful phenomenon.
I had a Red-Shouldered (as in photo) high overhead this morning, but on the hills in September you can find "kettles" of Broad Wings - possibly our most commonly-seen fall migrant hawk on the Atlantic Flyway, circling as they ride the morning thermals up to catch a long free, coasting ride south until they reach the next thermal updraft.
The identification of raptors is difficult, and I have no skill at it but I have a couple of pals who are. Like so many things, you have to learn from an expert: a book is almost useless because hawks are almost always seen in flight and, during migration, usually at fairly high altitudes so you only have a profile and, perhaps, a flight style. Furthermore, many migrants are immature first-year birds without the mature plumage.
The species pass by in phases. In late October and November come the most interesting ones: rugged birds like eagles, Goshawks, and Rough Leggeds.
I easily identified my passing Red Shouldered because of the "windows" in his wings.
(Speaking of migration, I have seen almost no migrating Monarch butterflies this year. In fact, far fewer butterflies in the gardens all summer than usual. Missed them because, in my view, butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds are part of the vitality and fun of gardens.)
BD - The book Hawks in Flight addresses the issue of identification at a distance very well. It helped me more than any other book ( although I also had the help of expert friends). Here's the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Hawks-Flight-Identification-American-Migrant/dp/0395510228
I read Maggie's Farm every day and very much enjoy it.
Happy hawk watching,
I agree. Just yesterday I had commented to the Mrs that I had not seen any monarchs around our dwindling Butterfly Bush this year. Even though I was home most of the summer. :( Suspect it's a cyclical thing.
For novice hawk watchers, I can't too strongly recommend a day spent on the platform at Cape May Light during the fall migration while the hawk count is going on. The birds come thick, fast and nearly continuously in their variety. The expert birders and scientists on scene are a joy to learn from. Treat yourself some year.
Fellow Raptor-Rapturists: A couple of other good spots to watch migration w/ experts are Hawk Mtn. in PA (looking down on hawks is different!) and more informally, Greenwich CT Audubon's site at Quaker Ridge. I don't know what's up with the counting/banding station near the mouth of the CT River; one of the principals died a couple of years ago. My family used to put him up in a converted garage room, and helped catch crickets. They're a good lure for Kestrels. That's really not public, but if you know some folks...
I got a close up view of a Cooper's hawk in my chicken coop last winter - - even escorted him out on the end of shovel. Snow so deep the mice were burrowing under and the hawk found my chickens easy pickin's. I'll have to make adjustments this year to the coop.