Scanning the sky for hawks from the summit of Buck Mountain

On Sunday, September 16,  Warren King and Ron Payne from Otter Creek Audubon and Bruce MacPhearson from Green Mountain Audubon led 24 participants on our annual joint hawk watch trip to Buck Mountain in Waltham. While humans may judged this sunny and mild day as ideal, in the eyes of migrating hawks trying to ride thermals from Canada to South America, the conditions were seen as less than perfect. Perhaps the wind direction was wrong, too strong, or the thermals just weren’t developing well, but for whatever reason the raptors were few and far between, and mostly very far away on this day. There were some notable exceptions including some crowd-pleasing, up-close looks at a few Broad-winged Hawks, Sharp-shinned Hawks, and a Kestrel. More distantly seen were Bald Eagles, Osprey and Red-tailed Hawks. Other sightings included regular passes by local Turkey Vultures, some aerobatic Common Ravens, and a flock of Wild Turkeys seen crossing field below the mountain.

The best find of the day turned out to not be a hawk at all but was instead a Cackling Goose seen in a passing flock of Canada Geese.  These birds are uncommon but regularly found in small numbers in Addison County during migration, always like this one, among flocks of Canada or Snow Geese. Formally considered a group subspecies of the Canada Goose, the American Ornithologist Union split Cackling Geese into their own species in 2004. Though they share a very similar plumage with their cousins, they are distinguished from them by their much smaller size, and indeed, this bird stood out in the flock looking like half-scale version of the birds around it.

All our bird sightings have been submitted to eBird and a full list can be seen at the following link:

– Ron Payne