Observation start time: 09:00:00 Observation end time: 18:00:00 Total observation time: 9 hours
Official Counter: Brian Hardiman
Observers: Al Ambler, Jim Thomson, Phil Rodriguez, Scott Wood
Visitors: Additional observers: Tom Campbell, Frank Merintino.
RR was a popular place today, welcoming individuals and groups: Bob and Molly, Joe Goddu & Christine, Bob Rothberg, Bob Dieterich and the Queens Co. Bird Club (~12), AMC hiking group from Mohican Outdoor Center (17), Mr T -- thank you one and all for spending time with us and for your spotting!
Hikers - 24.
Weather: clear early with increasing clouds thru day, wind SE light, temp 56-70 deg F.
Raptor Observations: BE - 2:04I. NH - 3 of the 5 seen were Gray Ghosts. PG - 2:09, 2:54 (both passing high, not aged). NG - 3:25I.
Raccoon Ridge set a season record today when Peregrine #51 passed at 2:54. The old record of 50 was set in 1990 during a full-time count.
However, the real excitement came just 31 minutes later when a lightning bolt struck the ridge (FIGURATIVELY! FIGURATIVELY!)--it came in the form of a BIG, BEAUTIFUL immature Northern Goshawk that gave what is likely the best look any of us have ever had of this bird on Coon.
Most of the crowd had already departed when we got on a bird upridge that was moving low on the reservoir side, giving us only a head-on look. As the bird got closer its identity became apparent--it was a sizable immature goshawk (heavy bodied, long tail, dirty/dark in appearance i.e. heavy streaking, with a bold conspicuous eye-line)! Keeping its line, it would have given us a 'knock you off your feet' classic Coon look (passing at or below eye-level while closely hugging the ridge).
But the bird did something none of us expected--it pulled up, turned, and headed straight for the owl decoy passing right in front of us! It continued over the owl and down the ridge and out of sight on the river side, leaving us thunderstruck. Wow! Wow! Wow! In my experience, few birds on Coon have elicited from its observers the subsequent buzz and chatter and whoops and exclamations (some of it which cannot be repeated here) that this bird did.
Outside of rough-legged hawk, the goshawk has become in recent years the rarest of the expected raptors at Coon. Taking this into account plus the 'knock your socks off' look it gave us, and how unexpected it was (warm day, light southerly wind, not a big flight)--all these factors combined make today's goshawk one very, very memorable bird.
And to top it off, Jim Thomson captured the moment with some damn fine photos of the bird.
Ring-necked Pheasant - male on A.T. near lookout, serenaded us periodically with its crowing--it's a released bird that was no doubt flushed from the PA side of the river where the small game hunting season just started. We're taking bets if it survives the night.
Buck Moths. Monarchs - 35.
Garter Snake and Red-belly Snake - seen by JT & AA on hike out at end of day. Screech Owl & Coyotes - heard by BH, PR, & SW on hike out.
======================================================================== Report submitted by Brian Hardiman (<hardimanbrian...>)