A Record Day at Cape May Hawk Watch: Golden Eagles 11-10-2008

A Record Raptor Day: Golden Eagles: By: Seth Cutright Counted By: Dan Berard

Today was a record breaking day…literally. During the Fall of 1996, 8 Golden Eagles were recorded on a single day. Today, that record was broken, as 14 Golden Eagles were recorded from the Cape May Hawk Watch Platform. As anyone who has attempted to count raptors knows, it can be tough trying to figure out which birds are migrating and which birds have been around all day and that goes double for eagles. Thankfully, today was a team effort. There was constant communication between me, in the Far North Raptor Banding Blind, Forrest Rowland, the counter at the Cape Henlopen Hawk Watch, and Dan Berard, counting at the Cape May Hawk Watch Platform. As an eagle was spotted, word was spread and we were able to track their movements and even how long it took some individuals to cross the bay.

Cape May wasn’t the only hawk watch to break a record. The Cape Henlopen Hawk Watch broke two records, with a new day and season total for Golden Eagles. They recorded six for their daily total. Here at the Cape May Hawk Watch we recorded a new day high count at fourteen. Out of the fourteen that were recorded at the Cape May Hawk Watch, Cape Henlopen was able to count how long it took six of these to cross the Bay. Overall, they all crossed in about an hour. Another astonishing number to throw at you is five, which is the number of the Cape May birds that were adults. Yet another interesting note is that the Golden Eagle recorded yesterday was seen again today but was not counted, which means that while fourteen birds were recorded today there were actually fifteen seen.

Other highlights at the platform today were Clay-colored and Fox Sparrows feeding among Song and House Sparrows. Many ducks were still on the pond by the count site, along with Cave Swallows flying over it. Then to cap off a really fun and interesting day, the last highlight was a flock of five Tundra Swans.

Photo 1: Juvenile Golden Eagle: 11-9-10-2008
Notes: This bird was seen both days. Some stand out field marks were noted to tell that it was the same bird both days. Such marks are, the very large amount and bright white wing patches, and thicker bright white band on tail. Also noted was the thin brown tail band on tail tip. These marks were seen on this bird both days in person and from banding photos. This photo is from 11-10-2008

Photo 2: Juvenile Golden Eagle: 11-10-2008

Photo 3: Five Tundra Swans: 11-10-2008

Photo 4: Clay-colored Sparrow: 11-10-2008

Photos done by Dan Berard

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