Thursday, May 14, 2020

Top down strategy

Here is a strategy. I have not applied this strategy, therefore it is not a tactic. Top- down means hawking the country-side in a convertible car. It is best to always have a partner. It is not a good idea to travel through the forest road. What is the chance of a goshawk ripping through in front of your car? Here is the advantage of having a pal. You are driving, spot a raptor but there is no place to pull over. But, with a pal, you can just stop, or pull slightly over    then pal can jump out. You now will continue down the road, turn around and pick up pal. 

See you at the light. NB. Anacortes.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Goshawks Hunterdon County

As an erstwhile resident of Hunterdon County and the New Jersey Audubon Society, I am presenting this post, dealing with Goshawks in Hunterdon County. Since I never documented any of my information and I never carried a camera while birding, I can understand why many birders will have their doubts of the validity of this posting. Let me just say it was around 1994 that there was an invasion of Goshawks into Northern Hunterdon County. These raptors were observed in early Spring, they may have been observed in the summer, then were observed in fall and winter and into the next spring and summer. Therefore, I am thinking that the invasion was observed in 1995. But, that is not at all important, to me. That zero pictures were taken is not important to me.

The first Goshawk that I observed was in Upper Black Eddy, PA. The hawk was female and was circling in a heavy fog, overhead. The second observation was in bright sun. A female NG soaring. This was in Erwinna, Pa., which is five miles downriver from Upper Black Eddy. This time frame was in the season before the NJ invasion.

The start of observing the invasion: Pete Kwiatek and I were birding for warblers in early spring on Goritz Road. We were at the base of a thin, steep, gravel road. Pete said “Look.” Well over the tops of the tall trees was a raptor flapping and circling. This hawk had a lot of silver, grey and white on the ventral area. I instantly called— Goshawk! We jumped in the car and went up the hill to a big open area. But the sky was empty. We jumped into car and went to top of hill — near the route 579 intersection. It was then that there was so much activity in the sky and low overhead that we hardly understood what we were observing. We did observe at least one NG. As I recall, a Kestrel and other raptors ripping about.

I started pestering Dick Dunlap to be with me at this site. We were at the site when he glassed a raptor (NG) in flight and said “ You ain’t lying.”

On another experience— There was a raptor survey. I don’t recall, it may have been a two - day event. Dunlap was the leader of the study. A Warren County count. In the morning, a group of us were standing around, when Dick Dardis and I called two NG far way and going further away, heading toward Jug Town Mountain. Pete K. and I were observing a tilted pasture, when a mature female NG was flapping low over the field. Pete remarked of the length of the wings and the depth of the beats. I remarked that the hawk had a pink chin and throat. Dunlap and I were observing a copse, which Pete was entering. Over head and behind, as if following Pete was a NG. I was informed that there were five NG sightings on the survey. I was delighted to have participated on three of those sightings. So how many NG were observed? I do not know, but at least two NG were observed.

Dick Dardis, biologist David Womer and I were birding in the hills of Bloomsbury. A NG was far away traversing two hills. David said “ I would like to get another look at that bird.” The hawk did present again, same altitude, same elapsed time frame.

I was hawking in the village of Little York, on the hillside. A new development was going in. The black top road was in. The Belgium block curbing was in. A NG was in flight, being attacked by a RTHA, then another NG came into the battle, then another RTHA entered the fight. Then a third NG arrived to do battle, followed be a third RTHA.

I lived on Hickory Corner Road. I was getting into car, while two male NG were ripping over the trees on the next ridge line, Rick Road. They were heading south as was I. I pulled in at the gas station and jumped out the car and started scanning the corn fields along the Delaware River. Well south of my position and ripping further away were two NG. This area was not far from Frenchtown. If they were the same two NG that  I observed, it was a good two miles from my initial sighting. While hawking from my property or walking my country road NG could be observed in flight.

Here is an interesting sighting. It did not involve raptors. It was near the Warren Glen Paper Company. There was a small black top pull off that angled into a cornfield. There was a car backed into the corn. In front of the car was tripod with scope. Two men were on the scope. They were looking upward. Skyward? This is unusual. Seldom will you ever observe a scope pointed upward except at a official hawk watch site.

Here is an all-time remarkable sighting. It is in the Warren- Hunterdon area. A mature female NG was at about 100 feet altitude and carrying prey. If the prey was large, then the prey was heavier than the hawk. The hawk was flapping constantly with deep wing beats. The wing beats may have been slightly labored. The prey was carried as an Osprey carries a fish. The prey was an opossum.

The last NG I observed was in June, 1996,

shortly before we departed NJ. The hawk was coming off Beaver  Brook Country Club, at about 100 feet altitude. I did not have enough experiences to realize this was a very rare sighting, relating to the season. But, here is an interesting story. I had meet this experienced birder, when he asked me if I had observed this goshawk that hung around route 31 and route 78. I assumed he meant perched. I traveled that area for many years often seven days a week. I never noticed anything unusual. That last sighting was near this highway area.

Just another paragraph or so. Pete Kwiatek was with me on two occasions as we observed NG. Dick Dunlap was with me on two occasions as we observed NG. Dick Dardis was with me on two occasions as we observed NG.

I heard this interesting statement, just once. As I was observing NG in northern Hunterdon County, “Don Frieday was looking at- for goshawks in the Sourland Mountains.”

Dear birders: In 1996, you were not ready for my advances. Now it is 24 years later and still you are not ready for my advances.


This web sight is certainly not about birding, therefore, possibly not one birder in one thousand will take a strong interest in what I am presenting. To observe a perched NG is a rare event. To observe a NG in migration could be a rare event. The best chance to observe a NG is when the raptor is on its home base. They will often take to the sky at an average altitude of 150 feet. The idea is to get into the flight pattern of the hawk. Therefore, you have a chance to also observe the hawk’s mate or progeny. I suggest that you give up your penchant for birding and spend ninety percent of your time observing the sky and ten percent birding. At least four hours daily would be a good start, of course, weather permitting. It certainly helps if you are retired.
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I have never returned to NJ. Probably never will. I certainly miss it. It would bother me greatly to return to areas that are no longer as natural as they were. There were some areas, some very small, that were possibly the most beautiful in the U.S. Be kind and be happy. NB. Anacortes,WA.

The Thought: This is not a statement to besmirch: If your name is Clarke, I could give you the moniker “ Clarke in the Dark.”

Monday, May 4, 2020

More tactics

Here might be the best location to observe NG in Williamsport, Pa., in the suburbs in Faxon. Location: Short Park, Northway Road. This thin recreational park is in the gap of the Grampian Hills. It is a narrow gap with a small stream tucked into the base of hill.

Goshawks and Cooper’s and other raptors like to shoot the gap, from ridge line to ridge line or hill top to hill top. The tactic is for you to get into the gap and then the hawk will traverse across your line of fire. It is best in the beginning, to post up on one end of the gap. Because if you are in the middle of the gap the hawk can easily slip behind your position. It only take a few flaps and some glides to traverse this gap, possibly ten seconds. I suggest you post near the swimming pool and concentrate looking northward. About ten-percent of the time scan toward your rear, toward the dike. The raptor might set a flight pattern, couple that with the time frame and you might get close enough to get a good photograph and a better look at field marks.

A good time to observe might be one- half hour after sun-up. Or from 11-1. Or as the temps warm, 10- 3.

I am getting ahead of myself. But, here is another area (gap) to shoot. It is a wide gap. It is in San Diego. The gap between the hillsides west of the Clairemont Hills and the Clairemont Hills. It is a long gap. You can post on either end. In the bottom of the gap is The 5.

While I was observing Goshawks in S.D., I contacted a falconer I recently met in Kansas. I told of my sightings. His reply “What!? Is there winter conditions down there in San Diego?”

The thought: What would Seagull Steve Think?

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Some tactics

Here are some tactics for finding and observing Goshawks and other raptors. The idea is to use abrupt weather changes. The weather can change from good to bad and also from bad to good. Usually bad weather takes time to build up and to travel. But, when weather changes from poor to excellent the time element can be very rapid. This is only logical. Pay attention to the weather report. Often the weather person is very accurate on predicting when the storm will clear out.

If you think that a raptor might be nesting or roosting, let us think on a hillside or in thick trees, even if in the city limits, you should post up to observe the entire site in one fell swoop. Give yourself a fudge factor of 15 minutes. In other words, if the weatherman said the storm will clear at noon, you should get to your post 15 minutes early.

So, here might be the story. There was a rain storm that was now two days or two and a half   days old. If a raptor is nesting or roosting in any particular area; The raptor will want to depart the trees and stretch its wings. Also the hawk is probably famished. So the hawk wants to scout for prey.

This information pertains to Williamsport, Pa. In June 1996 to November 1998, I was a resident. I lived in a large apartment building, half way up a steep hill. While sitting on my small balcony observing an electric storm coming toward me from the south, coming toward the Bald Eagle Mountains, were two raptors, flying wing tip to wing tip. They were large and appeared to be black. They were steady pumping, with no gliding. As they came close and to the side and behind the building I realized they were two female goshawks. They were making their way into or past the Grampian Hills. They were beating a path to get away from the storm.

In winter, I was walking the path near the dike in the Faxon area. It was just starting to snow.  There was a mature male NG at about 100 feet altitude, pumping away, no gliding for this hawk. The hawk was heading toward a comfort zone. It was heading for the Grampian Hills.

The takeaway— keep your eyes on the sky to observe if a raptor is beating a path ( home?) in order to escape poor weather conditions. NB.

Goshawks Lycoming County

The Goshawks of Lycoming County Pennsylvania: The first Goshawk (NG) I observed was in Upper Black Eddy, PA. It was in winter, probably 1993. I was standing on the canal. It was very damp and very foggy. The female NG was circling overhead in tight circles, with the wings flat and straight out to the sides. My impression was— Where is the ferocity of this bird? Where is the aggressiveness of this hawk? Therefore, you can understand that I had misinterpreted what I had read in the field guides. The second sighting (of a female NG) was  in a later season with warmer conditions and bright sun. The location: Tinicum Park, Erwinna, PA. A 126 acre park— Playgrounds, picnicking, hiking, ball fields, boating, fishing, ice fishing. I mention these amenities because NG will take an interest in these areas, but will not often drop down into these areas. The NG was soaring and flapping at about 175 feet altitude. This park is five miles down river from Upper Black Eddy.

In July 1996, we moved to Williamsport, Pa., (WMPT). We lived on a steep hillside.There were 10 large buildings. I am an erstwhile resident of WMPT and the Lycoming Audubon Society. 

From the git-go, I started observing NG in the area. The first was as driving through the small next- town over, Montoursville. The NG was low over the buildings and ripping away. Then, two NG at Rose Valley, far away and going away at about 200 feet altitude. 

At State College, downtown was a perched immature female. Soaring over Bald Eagle State Park was a NG.

Why am I trying to reach the birders of North Central Pa., now? Why not ten years ago? That would be 2010. Because it does not matter. For one thing, I never carried a camera.I certainly informed the proper people. At at least 2 Audubon meetings I informed of my NG sightings. I gave sensitive information to Mike Kuriga, master falconer and Audubon member. Also, sent sensitive info to biologist member of Audubon and to Director of PA Fish and Game. Mike Kuriga did tell me there are five or six nesting sites of NG near WMPT. This web site is not for many birders, only a select few. Birders are not hawk watchers, many of them will never become hawk watchers. It is too much of another discipline, too much of a leap of faith. Therefore, if this notice were presented in 2025, it still would not matter. It would have the same effect as if presented in 2050.

So here are more of my sightings and information and at the end will be one of my strategies for finding and observing NG, by using abrupt weather changes: Over Wall Mart — Montoursville.
Seldom did I go to South WMPT. One NG in the sky at the Game Range, 252. It was probably September 1997 with my new truck. I pulled in biologist Ed Reish driveway in Farregut. I was scanning the corn fields across the street. Two NG were ripping around low over the corn stalks. Sometimes, I would bird with Dick Plotz, a resident of the complex. More than once, I called a NG. One NG was perched close to my apt. door. Dick and I took a ride to north NJ. We hiked up Raccoon Ridge to be with the NJ Audubon Society hawk watch. There was a NG up high and ripping away, probably in migration. Pete Bacinski made the call. While driving to Montour Preserve a NG cut in front of my car. When I arrived at the preserve a NG was dropping down into the preserve. Near the preserve on another day, in Watsontown, a NG in the sky. I went to the office of the preserve to talk to biologist Jon Beam. On another day, I went to talk with him. Jon told me; He was driving to lunch (or diner) when he observed a raptor in a field. He glassed the hawk. It was a Goshawk.

On a field trip with Lycoming Audubon, with field trip leader Doug Gross, biologist; The area was west of Rickett’s Glen in the hillsides. As I was trying to find my way up into the mountainside to the parking area, a male NG was circling at about 150 feet altitude. Doug told me NG were nesting in Rickett’s Glen. We were standing around in a group, when we noticed what was probably a Merlin perched, about 300 yards away. I left the group to discover that the hawk was a Merlin. As I started back toward the group, a male NG was ripping through over the group. I did ask if anyone had observed the hawk that cut through. I did already know the answer, as no one was pointing upward or looking upward. We were walking in an open field, with a small, low copse. A male NG flew out, close to my position. When the group came together, I asked Doug if he observed the NG come out of the  brush. He did not. On his side of the brush he observed a Cooper’s Hawk fly out. So, I did not see his hawk and he did not observe my hawk.

In the suburbs of WMPT, Doug’s father and I were birding. We observed a NG in flight.


In the Lycoming Society Newsletter was a notice that I was to be in a recreational field near the airport and would be hawking and talk about my NG sightings. A official female member did stop by briefly. Ron Beach, another ranking member did stop by. Then a man from Antes Fort stopped by. We were standing there possibly 20 minutes when he was leaving the area and just about to get into his car, about 200 yards away, when I started yelling and pointing upward. There was a male NG well overhead.

Here is an interesting sighting. At Short Park was a mature NG hunting from the guard rail, at the intersection. So then I did something that made no sense. But, It was a normal instinct. I went back to my apartment, up the steep hill, up the stairs to my floor. I retrieved my scope and tripod, went back to park. I set the tripod. The hawk was still there! Sitting on the stop sign. The only take away was that the hawk had massive, powerful- looking legs. So, it is possible, that if I would have not departed the area, there may have been other NG coming into this area. So, what if the scoping showed that the hawk was leg banded. To me this is of little interest. I certainly was not close enough, on purpose, to read any numbers which would be on the band. Again, obtaining the scope had zero meaning. Then again, why not retrieve my camera? The hawk was not banded. The last NG I observed was west of town at the UPS facility. A female NG was circling over the hillside. It was probably September 1998, as I was preparing to leave Pa. and go on the road (for13 years). I never did return to North Central Pa. I certainly miss Pennsylvania.

I am very concerned, if I should write this, but— you people in Williamsport, do not know what you are missing.

My next posting will be of using abrupt weather changes in order to find and observe Goshawks. Be well and be happy. NB.


Saturday, April 25, 2020

New trend

There is a trend. And I am excited about it. This web site says— (NG) Northern Goshawks are moving into cities and suburbs and have been doing so for many years. I also suggest— A NG will not often perch in an area   near where you are sitting or standing. A NG will often depart its perch as you approach. If the hawk departs its  perch and and comes over your zenith, well, that is to your advantage. But, what if the hawk departs away from your position, well, now in many cases you are put into an uncomfortable situation. Because you are not a hawk watcher. Why is this? Because birders are close lookers. They love and only know the close-looking greenery. Also, birders spend a lot of time in birding hot spots. Which limits your time spent toward other birding areas.

Now for the trend. Because of the virus— I call it the Corvid virus—birders are spending more time, just relaxing with their walks in the yard or the neighborhood. Also, birders do not, should not spend time looking into their neighbor’s shrubs and areas near the house. So, birders, even while in their houses are realizing that out there there is plenty of sky. While walking or biking or driving there is also, mainly, plenty of sky.

More to the point. I have over the last four years always been aware of the listing from ABA bird listings of only PA, NJ and Tweeters, WA. I am interested in only raptors. This I have noticed just recently, Swainson’s Hawks, plural, and Broad-winged Hawks, plural, are being observed flying northward in WA. Over the list serve you can feel that birders are taking an interest in the sky! And are interested in observing these two species. If birders would spend more time in the sky, they will observe the Goshawk. But, will they be able to nail the species? So, now is the time, up into around The first of June. Nelson Briefer - Anacortes, WA. www.goshawktalker.blogspot.com.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Interesting subject

Interesting subject from an educated man. Washington Tweeters— subject- hummingbird Id. Date- Mon., April 6. From: diwill AT uw.ed. NB.

The thought: Eat a rat, eat a bat, finish it off with a cat. In all honesty, eat what you wish. I believe the problem is with the handling of the product, but in some cases, there may be a problem even if the meat is handled properly and cooked properly. Just sayin’.