This marks the 50th anniversary of the Quaker Ridge Hawk Watch, an annual fall event at the Greenwich Audubon Center located in the backcountry at the corner of Riversville Road and John Street. Every year, for about two months from mid-September through early November, a number of experienced and bird savvy enthusiasts volunteer their time scanning the skies at the Center for a variety of large winged migrating hawks and raptors passing through Greenwich toward the south and seasonal warmer climates.
The “birders” are present on weekends and most weekdays off to the side of the main building in the designated watching spot armed with binoculars to identify and observe as well as a notebook to record the specific species of birds. During the two month period the total number of birds can reach upwards to 15,000 sightings with the greatest number of hawks being sharp-shinned, broad winged, and red tailed, mixed in with turkey vultures, kestrels, and bald eagles.
Visitors are welcomed to stop by to observe or participate in the process. Bring binoculars if you have them as the birds are hard to see with the naked eye as they can be a thousand feet or higher as they ride in soaring circles in the thermal air with northwest wind off the higher ground of Quaker Ridge. Thermals are uplifting invisible warm air streams and currents that provide height to the birds, who then glide effortlessly and descend lower to other thermals along the migratory paths.
While the hawk count continues throughout the weeks, on Saturday 10/16 the Audubon Center will present a special educational presentation for children with live raptors with representatives from Christine’s Critters, a wild bird rehabilitation in Weston. Tickets are required in advance to participate in this session which is at 11:00 and 1:00. For information visit the Audubon Center website.
Submitted by Tim Werbe