jack williamson | Bonney Butte Hawk Watch 19 Sep 2015

Bonney Butte Hawk Watch 19 Sep 2015

September 21, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Get there while the getting is good!

The number of observations is going up daily, and they are not expected to peak for another week or two.

The personnel on site are awesome.  They are very helpful, knowledgeable, and all have crazy-good eyes.  An example of their exceptional vision was demonstrated by Tom who called a Peregrine Falcon at a range that I estimated to be over a mile out.  If that doesn't fit the definition of crazy good (bin-aided) eye sight then what does.  The bird eventually came within about 500 yards of our position which was close enough to confirm the id with a much-cropped photo. Tom grew up hawk watching at some of the most prolific hawk watch sites in the U.S. with his father and brothers who are all Falconers - what Tom sees while watching raptors in flight is a perspective that only prayer has a chance of helping me achieve.   

When not tallying birds, Liz and Steve are making sure visitors feel welcome.  They are both sharp as tacks, very kind, and generous with their time. 

My favorite encounter of this visit was with an articulate, curious, eight-grader, named Karl, who has been birding longer than I have.  Karl is the unseen person releasing the SHARPIE in one of the frames below which was a very exciting moment for all of us!  He was there with his father and brother Jakob who kept us entertained with stories of the family dogs.  

Now for the BIRDING NEWS!  We had two NORTHERN GOSHAWK, a juvenile and adult, performing aerial acrobatics for us before the juvenile took the bait at the banding station!  Neither bird was counted as migrants, however, because they were not observed flying south of the Hawk Watch Station. 

During my five hours on site, 30 SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, 6 COOPER'S HAWK, 17 RED-TAILED HAWK, 4 MERLIN, 3 BALD EAGLE, 1 PEREGRINE FALCON, and 1 GOLDEN EAGLE were tallied as migrants.

Did I mention that we had a juvenile NORTHERN GOSHAWK in hand!  

Okay - it wasn't that easy. Our first looks at the pair are as follows:

Our second and more surprising observation - two? Then the tango - the juvenile seemed to be the aggressor. Back to views of this impressive species in hand:

Steve and Liz working out how to best handle this big, cranky, bird: Images of Karl's SHARP-SHINNED HAWK:

Looking at Mt. Hood from the White River Sno-Park and then towards Bonney Butte - the distance between the summit of Mt. Hood to the Bonney Butte Hawk Watch Station is exactly 9.0 air miles according google maps.

Parking Area: The hawk watch station is .61 miles beyond this gate. Bonney Meadows - that campground was full.


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