Date: 5/14/18 11:32 am
From: 'Phil Brown' via NHBirds <nhbirds...>
Subject: [NHBirds] 'Raptorthon' Big Day with family - 95 species, Hancock to Hinsdale
Julie and I (along with our kids) participated in our ninth annual 'Raptorthon' birding event and fundraiser for her organization, the Hawk Migration Association of North America (HMANA) yesterday, raising funds for the conservation and research of migratory birds of prey.

We decided on an unstructured day of birding that included time in our own backyard as well as time at a few hotspots in Cheshire County - the Hinsdale rail trail and Setbacks, Spofford Lake, and the Dillant-Hopkins Airport in Swanzey. There were also stops at the Whetstone Station Brewery in nearby Brattleboro, VT and the Walpole Creamery in Keene for ice cream. We ended the day with 95 species tallied, including seven species of 'raptors' - a term we use loosely to include falcons and vultures, too. And, thanks to generous donors, we have raised over $1,000 so far for raptors.

Our own backyard in Hancock was productive through our departure time of 8 am, and we left our driveway with 33 species. We would later add another five here in the evening, the last bird of the day being a Barred Owl that woke me up at 10:56 pm! Truly NOT a serious 'Big Day' in which we would still have been out seeking nocturnal birds at that hour. Yard highlights included Eastern Towhee and Field Sparrow, and the kids got great looks at a Yellow-rumped Warbler feeding on the ground just outside the window.

Spofford Lake produced Common Loon, Double-crested Cormorant, and Ring-billed Gull.
The Airport (later in the day) yielded Eastern Meadowlark and Red-shouldered Hawk.

Hinsdale produced the balance including a nice array of warblers - 18 species in all for the day including Cape May, Wilson's, Blackpoll. Other finds here included Orchard Oriole, Brown Thrasher, Marsh Wren, Fish Crow, nesting Peregrine Falcon and Osprey, and an unexpected find of a Red-throated Loon!
But more exciting and intriguing for my six-year old was the Northern Rough-winged Swallow that perched close to us and allowed for nice scope views. (My three-year old was more fascinated with throwing sticks and stones into the river.) A final highlight was watching a sub-adult Bald Eagle grab a fish from the CT River as we sat outside at the brewery, scanning the slopes of Mt. Wantastiquet for the Black Vulture that never appeared.

Phil Brown
Hancock, NH

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