Every day that I got to spend at Rosetta McClain Gardens at the raptor watch was special. Watching hawks, falcons, and eagles fly over me, beside me and even high above us is a thrill. I have so many special memories from this year that I hardly know where to begin. First of all thanks to all the friends I have made over the past few years, especially Frank,Walter,Carol,Lee,Chris,Peter,Beryl,Mary,Mike and Les. My favourite memory this year has to be when Frank, Walter and I were there early one morning and were greeted by 2 sets of peregrine falcons. At 9am 2 young peregrines flew on by right over us and then came the highlight of 3 more peregrines (1 adult and 2 youngsters) who were playing, calling, talon touching/clasping, and bumping each other and just having a great old time. They flew over us and then turned around and came back. Two disappeared and came up behind Frank no more than 5 feet from him. Man was that fun to watch. I also got some great photos. What a great morning. My second memory was the wonderful trip I took to Hawk Cliff with Carol for one week. Close to 15,000 hawks, falcons and eagles we saw. Wonderful time - great food, new friends and well a fantastic trip with Carol.
I will miss not seeing the hawks every day but I have some wonderful memories and look forward to next year. Thanks everyone. Ann
From Les and Mike:
The numbers may have been down, but the birds seen generated a lot of excitement. Also, you encouraged new birders and made the local community aware of the watch. Congrats and thanks for all you do. I know each year I'm getting better at this. My favourite pic of the year is all of us looking at the sky, while Mike reads the newspaper.
Memories of this year's raptor watch:
My favourite part of the raptor watch is knowing that someone will be there when I drop by almost every time, and as you all know, dropping by and leaving shortly after is my specialty! It's great to see the birds, especially eagles and kettling turkey vultures, but there is so much downtime so the best part for me is all the laughs we have.
My favourite bird moment was when nobody else was there and I saw a juvenile bald eagle go along the bluffs below me. I couldn't believe my eyes and even though I knew crows didn't grow that big, I still didn't feel confident enough in my abilities to say I saw an eagle. I was looking around, hoping Frank or Walter would materialise out of thin air to say "oh, it was definitely an eagle" but Frank didn't show up at all and Walter came by 5 minutes later. Fortunately, there was a woman doing Tai Chi a little way over and she looked at me and said "was that an eagle or a hawk" and I knew it was an eagle because no hawk is that big or dark. Now just don't ask me if it was a bald or golden because I have no clue!(maybe next year)
I just want to thank you for all you do in promoting raptor watching in(east) Toronto. People like you not only make raptor watching interesting, but fun as well. I have learned a lot from you and am able to apply this knowledge when I am out in the field.
I look forward to seeing you again when the warblers start to fly. Best regards,
GREAT Raptor watch, Frank. The past few months have been like an advanced course on birding.From the top of the bluffs, it was amazing to get those close upviews and to see the birds, many I didnt know even existed, from all angles, not just from underneath. And the information passed along, to newbies like myself, was friendly and informative. Definitely the hilight was the day Walter and I saw the golden eagle circling, soaring, and crossing back and forth for ten minutes outover the lake. I never would have thought those types of birds flew through this area. Of course, it was not just about the birds, the many humorous conversationsand puns (a 'pair-a-grins'?!) and Ann's side splitting impersonations made the hours fly by. Thanks again, everyone!
Well my comments about the Raptor Watch start way back in the spring when I first met Frank. I said "Frank, I'm getting ticked off, I keep seeing big birds along the Bluffs and I can't identify them at all (looking back now, it was probably the same local Red-tailed Hawk over and over out hunting each day). Frank's reply to me was "Oh don't worry about them now, wait until the Fall and I'll teach you everything you need to know about birds of prey, they come by very close here and once I point out some of the shortcuts in identifying them, it will become very easy for you". That sounded fair enough. As Spring went on, Frank had told me so many stories about the Raptor Watch that it was really sounding like it was going to be a lot of fun and sure enough, it was. Here are some of my favourite moments: Sitting in the shade of trees during August to see the first few birds of the Fall migration was great, but very hot! Seeing the 3 Peregrine Falcons flying and playing with each other along the way was really neat to see and hear. Seeing a little Hummingbird chasing after a Red-tailed Hawk was an unbelievable sight that I'm sure I'll never see again. Sitting at home the night of the 845 birds and feeling the pain running through my arms and making my hands numb (caused from holding my binoculars up almost the entire afternoon!) was pretty special to say the least. Seeing large numbers of Vultures flying through the centre of the park and just above the trees was beautiful to witness. Seeing the Bald and Golden Eagles flying below us along the Bluffs (us looking down at them for a change) was amazing. Seeing 6 Golden Eagles in one day was very high up on the list as my favourite moment...unfortunate that several of the regulars including Frank, were not present to share in the excitement. Seeing the juvenile Northern Goshawk flying back and forth all day, the one day, was really cool, many times it flew by very close to us. Watching a Red-tailed Hawk come screaming out of the sky talons first at a nice fluffy Black Squirrel (BTW - he missed!!!) and then to have him turn and fly right passed me 10 feet away was incredible to watch. Wow, I could just go on and on with special moments there were so many. But most of all, going from a complete "novice" at Birds Of Prey to a "semi-pro" (lol!) and being able to turn around and teach others what I had just learned in such a short time was very satisfying and rewarding for me and was by far the best "moment". I cannot thank you, Frank, enough for all that you have taught me over these last couple of months, it really has been an incredible time and, yes, we will get the number to match somehow. And to all of the others, way too many to mention here, I would like to thank all of you as well for teaching me what you know, sharing endless laughter and enjoyment (especially the comedy duo of Lee & Ann), freezies, coffees, hot chocolates, donuts, pizza, car rides, and whatever else you had to offer, it's all been very much enjoyed and appreciated. I look forward to doing it all again next year. Walter
Tu writes:Dear Frank
Thanks for creating the blog on the internet,which lead me to my first time ever at Rosetta McClain Gardens. I was able to see some action from the Crows chase of the Goshawk up close and personal. For next season you bet I will be there. Nice to meet you all, Ann, Lee, Walter and Frank.
Keep them coming gang.