Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Raptor Fest*

Southern New Jersey is a well known spot for raptors, birds of prey. There is the famous Cape May Hawk Watch, the spot to be for raptor migration. But not all of the birds continue south. Some decide to spend the winter in my home state.

Like this red-shouldered hawk. Until this year, I'd only seen this species in Florida. This month alone I've seen eight individuals, including this very cooperative bird, which sat in the tree and let me walk right up under it. Very cool.

Merlins have also been surprisingly common this year. Supposedly rare in New Jersey in the winter months, I've seen five this month. Including these two (I think the prey bird is a dark-eyed junco).

Who you looking at?

Bald eagles have become quite common, with over eighty mating pairs in the state. I've seen over twenty this year. Almost a trash bird.

I was planning to go to Conowingo Dam in Maryland last Saturday, but conditions, in the form of ice covered roads, led to a change in plans. And a jaunt about Cumberland County ensured. That's were I saw all of the birds shown here. At Conowingo one can see 100+ eagles at one place. Still on this trip we saw seven. Not bad for New Jersey.

Northern harriers, like this grey ghost, where actively hunting at every stop we made. Fun to watch, but hard to photograph, as they glide over fields. A lucky shot, this.

And there is the ubiquitous red-tailed hawk, like this one, who as also featured in my Sometimes post. They are starting to pair up and can often be found sitting together this time of year.

Also about, but yet to fly in front of my lens, are rough-legged hawks, kestrels, peregrine falcons, and several species of owls. Maybe I'll get some this weekend.


*This year is the 10th anniversary of the Cumberland County Winter Eagle Festival, to be held this Saturday (February 5th, 2011). In its early years it was known as the Raptor Festival. Rumor has it the name was changed because too many people came looking for dinosaurs ... 


Anonymous said...

I am so jealous....those hawks are just so beautiful and then you top it off w/ an eagle! Wow, I'm in awe!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely gorgeous array of Raptors.

Bobbi Dunn said...

I'm in awe of those of you who are able to get shots of wildlife. Even if with zoom lens, these are great! I'm hoping to drive through Cape May on a trip in March. I'll think of you and the raptors.

Anonymous said...

Very nice series of photos. From the list sent earlier by Sue, it looks like you guys had a great day of birding.