Hawk Watching Season is about to Begin | Withme Photography Blog

Hawk watching season is approaching and I am getting excited. This will be my third year watching the fall migration.

It is mid-August and it is hot and humid and yet the migration to the south is beginning. While I swelter and sweat, there I something in creation that is triggering the birds to get up and move. At the same time that I am too hot to move, creatures in the north are starting to feel a bit itchy, and antsy and don’t know why. Soon it will become apparent. Temperatures will drop and daylight will diminish and then the slow methodical march to the south will begin. I can’t wait.

There is something about seeing the hawk migration that intrigues me. It first got into my blood two years ago with my first visit to Wildcat Ridge hawk watch. A few weeks prior I had been in Idaho and had visited the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area which supports one of the world’s most dense concentrations of nesting birds of prey. This is where I took my first photograph of a hawk in flight. I didn’t know it then, but I was hooked.

When I returned home, I began to research the New Jersey area to find out if there was a similar area in New Jersey. Soon I began reading of the fall hawk migration and hawk watches located along its path in New Jersey. This is what brought me to the Wildcat Ridge hawk watch one warm Saturday afternoon in August.

I didn’t know what to expect when I reached the hawk watch after the mile long walk up the mountain; the gravel road crunching under my feet. Unknown to me, it turned out to be the first weekend of the hawk watching season and Fred and Pete stood by their spotting scopes while a few visitors sat in the cooler shade. Everyone sat comfortably on the chairs that they had brought. I quietly took a seat on a nearby rock. That was the first hawk watching lesson that I learned. If you are going hawk watching, bring a chair!

During my first visit I don’t think that I did anything other than sit in the shade and listen to the conversations going on around me. Actually, this has been one of the single most important things that I have learned while hawk watching … just listen. By listening I have picked up a wealth of information. The one aspect of hawk watching that impressed me the most during my first season, and continues to impress me today, is the willingness on the part of the experts to share their knowledge with anyone who asks. I don’t think that they could contain themselves if they tried.

In the weeks and months that followed, I walked that long gravel road up to the hawk watch many times. I also visited the hawk watch at Sunrise Mountain. I saw things that I had never seen before. I saw things that I didn’t even know existed before. It seemed that I saw all of creation shift and change in anticipation of the approaching winter. I saw hawks on the move, but also song birds and butterflies. The long hot summer was over and it seemed that it was time for the world to pick up and move. I was witnessing one beat in the rhythm that God put in place a long time ago. It was one beat, but for the first time I was witnessing it. For the first time, I had become aware of it.

And now it’s all about to happen again and I want to be out on some high place and watch it one more time. After two seasons, I have learned that there is no way to predict what the season will bring. The hawks and eagles will come and with them will come new things to learn and new thing to witness. It’s all about to happen again and I’m excited.


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