Fo­cus­ing on hawk, monarch mi­gra­tion

The Delhi News-Record - - LIFE - PAUL NI­CHOL­SON g.paul.ni­chol­son@gmail.com twit­ter.com/Ni­chol­sonNa­ture

The first weeks of Septem­ber rep­re­sent the best op­por­tu­nity of the year to view broad-winged hawks.

For a few mag­i­cal days when the winds are right, there will be a chance to see hun­dreds or per­haps thou­sands of mi­grat­ing broad win geds in a sin­gle day as they head to South Amer­ica for the win­ter.

Like the more fa­mil­iar red-tailed hawks, these birds are in the bu­teo fam­ily, so they have a fan-shaped tail.

Un­like the red-tails how­ever, the broad-win geds have a dis­tinct white band across the tail and the bird is only the size of a crow.

I popped down to Hawk Cliff on Labour Day week­end to catch some other Septem­ber mi­grants in­clud­ing sharp-shinned hawks, North­ern har­ri­ers, and kestrels. This is a good spot for non-rap­tors as well. I saw hum­ming­birds feed­ing on the jew­el­weed. The trail through Hawk Cliff Woods also is pro­duc­tive.

The end of Hawk Cliff Drive now is fenced off com­pletely since the av­er­age rate of ero­sion at the cliff face is a shock­ing 3.7 me­tres a year.

The St. Thomas Field Nat­u­ral­ists, Thames Tal­bot Land Trust, the Hawk Cliff Rap­tor Ban­ders, and Monarch Watch again will be part­ner­ing to host back-to-back week­end events at Hawk Cliff on Sept. 15 and 16 and Sept. 22 and 23. These events are free.

Each day kicks off at 11 a.m. with pre­sen­ta­tions about monarch but­ter­flies and mi­grat­ing hawks. It is al­ways in­ter­est­ing to see but­ter­fly tag­ging demon­stra­tions and live rap­tors.

Other events in­clude a pre­sen­ta­tion about On­tario’s rep­tiles with live snakes, and the of­fi­cial open­ing Sept. 22 of the Auzins com­mu­nity wild­flower gar­den. Karen and Eric Auzins, both of whom are ac­tive in the Lon­don na­ture com­mu­nity, are long-stand­ing Thames Tal­bot Land Trust bene­fac­tors.

A sched­ule of events is posted on the Thames Tal­bot Land Trust web­site. Search on “2018 Hawk Cliff week­ends.”

The fall Hawk Cliff hawk­watch, which re­booted last month, will con­tinue through the week­end fes­ti­val events. This is a long-run­ning cit­i­zen sci­ence ini­tia­tive.

Hawk Cliff is sit­u­ated at the south end of Hawk Cliff Drive which runs south off Dex­ter Line 3 km east of Port Stan­ley.

On most of my trips to Hawk Cliff, I usu­ally head over to the Port Stan­ley la­goons on Scotch Line as well. From the view­ing stands, there is an op­por­tu­nity to see in­ter­est­ing duck and shore­birds species. My bonus birds in­cluded great blue herons and East­ern king­birds.

In Es­sex County, the Fes­ti­val of Hawks is an­other rap­tor cel­e­bra­tion. Based at the Hol­i­day Beach con­ser­va­tion area, it also is set for Sept. 15-16 and then Sept. 22-23. The pro­gram­ming is ex­ten­sive and runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day.

Rap­tor band­ing, na­ture pho­tog­ra­phy, hawks in flight, na­tive plants, and monarch but­ter­flies are among the many pre­sen­ta­tion and demon­stra­tion themes. Jeremy Bensette speak­ing about Big Year bird­ing and Jeremy Hatt shar­ing in­sights about the iNat­u­ral­ist plat­form and other na­ture apps look par­tic­u­larly in­ter­est­ing.

All Fes­ti­val of Hawks events are in­cluded with the $15-a-ve­hi­cle ad­mis­sion fee. Go to es­sexre­gion­con­ser­va­tion.ca for de­tails.

Na­ture notes

• Some of the area’s keen­est hawk watch­ers will at­tend the an­nual con­fer­ence of the Hawk Mi­gra­tion As­so­ci­a­tion of North Amer­ica Oct. 12-14. This year the HMANA con­fer­ence will be in Detroit. One of the many con­fer­ence events will be a field trip to the Hol­i­day Beach Bird Ob­ser­va­tory in Es­sex County. • Monarch but­ter­flies are among

the but­ter­fly species that mi­grate and they too are on the move now. Through Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber they well be head­ing to­ward Mex­ico where they win­ter. This is a species at risk. Although my per­sonal ob­ser­va­tions through this sum­mer are anec­do­tal as op­posed to sci­en­tific, the re­gional monarch pop­u­la­tion has seemed to have im­proved marginally. • Audubon’s lat­est Year of the

Bird sug­ges­tions re­late to help­ing mi­grants. Mak­ing your win­dows ob­vi­ous, keep­ing your house­hold or of­fice lights off from dusk un­til dawn and ad­vo­cat­ing for birds lo­cally can make a dif­fer­ence. For de­tails on the Audubon web­site, search on “three ways you can help mi­grat­ing birds this fall.” • On­tario res­i­dents are wel­comed

to en­ter the En­to­mo­log­i­cal So­ci­ety of On­tario’s bug pho­tog­ra­phy con­test this month. De­tails are at entso­cont.ca.

PAUL NI­CHOL­SON/ SPE­CIAL TO POSTMEDIA NEWS

The En­to­mo­log­i­cal So­ci­ety of On­tario, which has been ac­tive since 1871, stud­ies, cater­pil­lars, but­ter­flies, and other in­sects. When it was orig­i­nally es­tab­lished in 1863 as the En­to­mo­log­i­cal So­ci­ety of Canada, Lon­don’s Wil­liam Saun­ders was one of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s of­fi­cers.

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