Festival, Family, Friends and Flights!
Bill Thompson III and Gabe Cenker identifying one another at the FKH deck
The Florida Keys Birding and Wildlife Festival has once again come and gone, and with it the hawkwatch has turned another page. The Festival is a great opportunity for us to spend good hawkwatching time with plenty of visitors and friends; we always have a great group up at the observation deck. This year we were graced by visits from Bill Thompson III, editor of Bird Watcher’s Digest and the keynote speaker for the Festival. His great sense of humor, friendly personality and creative energy are immediately felt once you spend a little time with him. Who else brings a guitar to a birding event? Children gravitate to him, and his conversations about birds are fun and engaging. Many of us walked away with an earworm after his keynote sing-along. Yes, he finished his excellent talk with a sing-along cover: “Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowbirds.” Serendipitously, our friend Trisha Auffhammer brought very tasty Cowboy Cookies to the hawkwatch, packed with oats, chocolate chips and nuts. Soon we had renamed them Cowbird Cookies. I was happily singing Bill’s song while eating Trisha’s cookies and watching distant raptors fly by.
Nico Porcelli helps his brother Lucas get on a distant flying Peregrine Falcon.
The Leica Trinovid 8×42 binoculars were their favorite.
It has been so much fun to have kids up at the hawkwatch deck; talk about future talent! Between Gabe Cenker’s (age 9) hawkwatching enthusiasm, and the impressive knowledge and keen observation skills of brothers Nicolas (10) and Lucas (7) Porcelli, we’ve had much to feel proud about at the hawkwatch. Upon arriving to Curry Hammock on Friday, September 28, and fresh from a six hour drive to the Keys, Gabe spotted a Buteo kettle overhead that contained the first Swainson’s Hawk of the season! The Porcelli brothers arrived to their first hawkwatching experience filled with raptor facts. Nico was soon calling out Peregrines a mile away as they cruised through high clouds. Lucas knew well about the speed of a stooping Peregrine reaching over 200 mph, and pondered out loud about the specialized talons of Ospreys and their reversible outer toes. We have no doubt that with these young hawkwatchers scanning the skies with us over the coming days, few raptors will go by undetected.