Friday, October 28, 2005

Autumn Weekend 3

With generous assistance from Clay Taylor, I sat in a hawkblind for the first time. Not only did I get to do so with Clay--who's been trapping and banding hawks for decades--I got to sit in the far north hawkblind with Bill Clark. The two generous fellows showed me what's what inside a hawkblind, and then I sat behind them while they worked the lure birds to attract passing Cooper's Hawks and Sharp-shinned Hawks. Renee joined us in the blind, and she later trapped a beautiful male American Kestrel.

With three birds secure in their protective cans, Bill and I drove to the north hawkblind to retrieve two more birds before driving to Cape May Point State Park for a hawkbanding demonstration. About 20 folks formed a semi-circle around Bill as he and Josh, one of the CMBO interns, held the birds while discussing their natural history and markings. The appreciative crowd got to see up-close the size difference between male and female Sharp-shinned Hawks and between male and female Cooper's Hawks. Bill and Josh released each bird after answering the group's questions.

After the demonstration, Bill and I returned to the far north hawkblind, where I got to admire a Red-tailed Hawk before Clay and I departed. We needed to return to the Cape May convention hall to finish setting up our booths. Alas, Ruth the raven did not greet me at the door, as she had on Thursday afternoon's visit to the hall. Ruth is part of the menagerie with Jonathan Wood's The Raptor Project. Here's an arty image of her investigating Jack on Thursday afternoon and helping to create the holiday atmosphere.

The Bird Show opened its doors for the 59th annual Cape May Autumn Weekend at noon on Friday, and I had a great time greeting visitors and passing out copies of WildBird's annual hummingbird issue. At 5 p.m., the convention hall closed, and many folks migrated to the Grand Hotel for cocktails and the evening's banquet and Clay and Pat Sutton's program: "How to Spot an Owl."

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