Friday, April 18, 2014

The Hawkwatch Season Is Now Over! We Finished With One Lone Swainson's-April 15, 2014

This is the final blog for the season. On April 15th we had our last Swainson's Hawk. A full report will be available in fall. We are indebted to the volunteers that spent countless hours scanning the sky from February 15-April 15. Special thanks to the 3 Hawketeers, Wes Hetrick (from Virginia); Rose Leong from British Columbia and Pam Albers from San Diego. Our sharp-eyed returning veterans included: Steve Bier, Hal Cohen, Judy Davis, Joe Hopkins, Herb Stone and Laura Webb. Assistants this year included Richard Yates, Tommy Antel (and Stella). Thanks to several photographers we had some nice photo's. Our official staff photographer Iris Kilpatrick came through with the shot of the season, see below.

In early December we will be searching for new volunteers for the 2015 season. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, contact me at

The season started and finished on the slow side. However, for several weeks in March we had quite a show. We had great expectations going into the height of the season near the end of March. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate. Exceptionally windy days with huge sand storms might have contributed to our low count near the end of March. Our final count total for Swainson's Hawks was 4,312. Of the 12 years of records, 2014 would rank number 5.

This is the first season that we did not have any feeding activity. There were no caterpillars, grasshoppers or flying ants. Very few of the Swainson's Hawks spent more than a day in the valley. We observed Turkey Vultures every day but the majority of the sightings were of local birds. Only 361 Turkey Vultures were counted. This is the lowest TV count with the exception of 2003 (a partial count season). Strangely as I am writing my comments for the last blog, I received a call from Steve Bier at 4:45P this evening, "There is a large kettle going west over your house". Turns out, they are Turkey Vultures kettling very high and finally streaming out Hell Hole Canyon. There were 66 TV's, equivalent to over 25% of the total TV's we counted this season. And, the TV's flew directly into a thunderstorm! No, we didn't see any rain in the valley!

Here are a few of the many photo's that stand out from the season.
Thanks to the Anza Borrego Foundation and the Anza Borrego Desert State Park for continued support of the Hawkwatch. 
The "Hill", the watchers and Stella in the foreground-Thomas Antel

Last shot of the year from my roof-part of a kettle of 66 TV's-4/18/14
A kettle of Swainson's Hawks-different morphs-HC
Dark Morph SW on a telephone pole-HC
My favorite shot of the year-Rufous Morph Swainson's Hawk with a twig-Iris Kilpatrick
Streaming  Swainson's Hawks-HC
Swainson's Hawks surrounding a plane-Terry Peterson
Evening drop in of Swainson's Hawks-Terry Peterson
And finally, my favorite sunset-HC

1 comment:

  1. Waiting for an updated hawk report..... I know they are out there