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CAPE MAY HAWKWATCH UPDATE – November 6th to 12th

This week felt more like September than November at the Cape May Hawkwatch, sponsored by Swarovski Optik. Every day this week we saw above average temperatures with dew points in the upper 60s and abundant sunshine. Although the weather was fabulous and made for some very enjoyable days on the hawkwatch, it was not very conducive for hawk migration. With that being said, it is still Cape May and there is always something to see here.

By far, the biggest surprise of the week was the second Northern Goshawk of the season on November 10th. Hours had passed without a single raptor in sight and we had mostly given up hope for anything worthwhile to be seen. Then suddenly a massive accipiter came bursting out from behind the cedars and cruised over Bunker Pond giving everybody a jolt of excitement and a rush of adrenaline. That just goes to show that you never know what you will see next and why Cape May is such a special place.

Not the greatest photo of a Northern Goshawk, but the dense streaking throughout the undersides, along with the barrel-chested appearance, bulging secondaries, and prominent eyebrow stripe all help nail down the ID of this rarity.

Aside from the Goshawk, we also saw the typical players one would expect to see in November: Northern Harriers, Red-tailed Hawks, and Red-shouldered Hawks. Northern Harriers are one of the fan favorites among hawkwatchers, and for good reason! Four of seven days this week saw double digit totals of Northern Harrier, and many flew super close to the hawkwatch platform as they hunted the marshes along Bunker Pond. Harriers will continue to migrate throughout the remainder of the count period. The season total currently sits at 887. Fingers crossed we will break the coveted 1,000+ benchmark for Northern Harrier in one season!

You can never get tired of Northern Harriers, especially when they fly right in front of you in gorgeous afternoon lighting while showing off their beautiful plumage.

Winter finches continue to put on a show each morning. Evening Grosbeak are now a daily sight. A single flock of 12 Red Crossbills were also observed on November 8th. While the Pine Siskin numbers have dramatically declined over the recent weeks, a handful of flocks are still being seen daily. However, American Goldfinch numbers have been skyrocketing with a max count of 3,078 tallied on November 8th.

By Jesse Amesbury

New Jersey Audubon