Return to Hawk Watch Home Page
Coastal Bend
Hawk Watch '96

(All photographs on this page courtesy of John Economidy)

Why would anyone voluntarily spend hours upon hours in the hot, burning sun and/or freezing, unexpected cold front storms, counting hawks?!?! Well, let me tell you, come spend just one day on the bluff with us at Hazel Bazemore County Park (Nueces County, TX) ... even just part of one day, and experience thousands and thousands and thousands of these magnificent soaring hawks sailing overhead -- sometimes so close you'd think you could just reach out and touch them .... and I guarantee, you'll be hooked, too!! Just take a peek at an entry from 1996 ....

Saturday, 21 September 96
Corpus Christi, Texas

What a day. What a week! The peak period of hawk migration is off to a good start, despite cold fronts and storm systems reportedly holding the hawks in the Canadian north longer than we, and the hawks, anticipated. 

Over eighty folks turned out at Hazel Bazemore this morning to welcome the late morning liftoff and while we were pleasantly surprised to find a nice cool morning, the hawks opted to wait out more warmth. When the air finally warmed enough,  kettles totalling 10,300 broadwings took to weak thermals between nine and ten in the morning.  Another 12,000 plus came through during the next hour, then the peak hit between 3-4pm, with nearly 47,000 broadwings streaming south. In this group, another of nature's dramas played out, as two observers noted a high-speed raptor shooting into the huge kettle of broadwings. In the ensuing confusion high above us, we lost, then re-acquired the raptor -- sort of -- for it now sported an unusual look about it.
Zooming in closer, we finally got it in a spotting scope and John Economidy (Director, Texas chapter, HMANA) made out the detail of a red-tailed hawk with something clutched tightly in its talons. Zooming still closer, we finally saw it -- the red-tailed hawk was locked into a death grip with a broadwing hawk. From the position of the two hawks, it appeared the red-tailed hawk had apparently flown full speed into the huge kettle of broadwings, body-slamming head-on into one hapless broadwing, then proceeded to ride out the rest of the flight, coasting slowly to the ground with its talons buried deep in the broadwing's breast. It set down with its dinner much farther west than we were able to follow it. We'll be talking about that one for years to come!

A nice close to today's hawking --  we're enjoying the company of many visitors who came from out of town (including San Antonio, Houston, Refugio, Austin), out of state (including Alaska and Nevada) and even out of country (England) to join us, including the couple from Nevada, who are spending their vacation birding in Texas and opted to spend their 27th wedding anniversary today counting hawks with us at Hazel. Now that's a way to celebrate!

And THAT's why we do it!
Keep checking ... schedules and maps coming for Fall '97 Watch ...
Click here for September 1996 count

Web Page Created and Last Updated July 25, 1997 by Patty Beasley