Friday, September 2, 2011

Watch the skies like a hawk!

Fall migration will be upon us before we know it. In fact, the shorebirds have already started their trek south, and since birds take more time to move in the fall, you'll have a longer amount of time to check them out.

For the beginning birder -- or even someone who's just interested in seeing a good show -- hawk watches are the way to go. Basically, you go to a hilly or mountainous place and watch as raptors take advantage of thermals and updrafts to make their way to their destination. It's not unusual to see scores of hawks in one visit, even in the spots nestled in the more populated areas of the state.

While I did stop by the Cape May viewing platform a few years ago, I'll be going to my first official hawk watch with Ivan in the next few weeks. He wanted me to let Hidden New Jersey readers know about some of the more popular hawk watching spots in the state, in the event that you want to check them out before we get there. Who knows -- you might even run into us!

Montclair Hawk Watch -- Montclair.  The state's oldest hawk watch site, and the second-oldest in the country!
Raccoon Ridge -- Blairstown
Chimney Rock -- Martinsville
Wildcat Ridge - Rockaway/Hibernia
Cape May -- at Cape May Point State Park, sponsored by NJ Audubon's Cape May Bird Observatory.
Sunrise Mountain -- Stokes State Forest

Be sure to bring your binoculars and dress for the weather. Of course, a decent birding field guide will help, too (I like the Sibley guide, personally), but it's still fun to watch even if you don't identify which birds they are.

Stay tuned for my report on our visit in the next few weeks.

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