An Excellent Start to the 2016 Season!
The 2016 fall migration season at the Florida Keys Hawkwatch is off to a fantastic start. This is the 19th season of standardized counts of migratory birds in the Middle Keys of Florida. We are excited to welcome a new team of talented hawkwatchers joining the FKH family. They will be counting daily at the Curry Hammock State Park deck from early September through the end of October.
Our official counters this fall are – from right to left – Cameron Cox, Kenny Fowler and Chris Payne.
Cameron has tremendous experience as a counter in hawkwatches and seawatches at a number of locations, as well as birding and guiding throughout the U.S. and all over the world. You may be familiar with his excellent reference guide to Seawatching, Eastern Waterbirds in Flight (Peterson series). He has lived in Florida, has served in our state’s Record’s Committee and is thoroughly familiar with Florida’s avifauna. He is currently based out of Cape May, NJ. We are greatly benefiting from his expertise. Kenny Fowler has been a hawk counter at Bake Oven Knob, Pennsylvania, and is familiar with HMANA protocols. He was also an intern at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, has worked with migratory shorebirds, and has worked from North Dakota to the East Coast. His studies have taken him as far as South Africa. He is based out of Quakertown, PA. Chris Payne has been birding since childhood, frequenting his local hawkwatch at Allegheny Front in Western PA. He has worked on point counts to monitor Golden-winged Warblers, worked with horseshoe crabs, conducted surveys for Louisiana Waterthrushes and Cerulean Warblers, and has wide experience ranging from veterinary technician to invasive plant eradication. He is based out of Berlin, PA.
Visitors are welcome to stop by Curry Hammock State Park, and spend time sharing the migration spectacle with our hawkwatchers. It is a great opportunity to see many bird species, and learn how to identify raptors in flight. We count daily – rain or shine – from 9am to 4pm.
Although we still have the month of October to continue counting, the season is already unfolding in an exciting manner. Falcons have started strong, with Peregrines and Merlins closing September with an advantageous edge over other seasons. One of the biggest highlights so far was a Snail Kite observed at the hawkwatch on September 29 – the second ever observed in the history of the project. The bird was intrepidly spotted and identified by volunteer Greg Thompson. It was skillfully photographed by Cameron Cox as it quickly flew past the count site, slipped away and disappeared.