We very much hoped to be back to a regular schedule of membership meetings by now, but it is not to be. We are making our decisions on a month to month basis and will resume meetings as soon as infections have trended downwards for a period, and we feel that most of you will be comfortable coming.
However, we know a lot of you are anxious to get outdoors and look at birds. Currently, we see no reason why we will not be able to run our September field trip. As is normal in September, this will be to the Hawk Watch at Smith Point on the last Saturday of the month, September 25. If you are yourself concerned to maintaining social distancing, the hawks can be seen almost as well from the parking lot, where these is more than enough room.
Birding is a outdoor activity and generally presents much less risk than indoor meetings. Nevertheless, please avoid congregating in large groups. It is recommended that you limit sharing optical equipment. Safely cleaning optical equipment without risking damaging lens coatings is very difficult to do thoroughly.
Our leaders will be there from about 8:30 a.m. Hopefully, this will be close to a peak in this year's Broad-winged Hawk migration, but there will always be some hawks. Any day from mid-September through mid or late October should produce a good number of migrating hawks.
To reach the Smith Point Hawk Watch site from Winnie, take Highway 124 south towards High Island. After 12 miles, turn right on FM1985 and follow it about 14 1/2 miles until it meets FM562. Follow FM562 14 miles to Smith Point. Continue straight until almost reaching the bay, and turn left, bearing left again to the parking area next to the Hawk Watch Tower on the Candy Abshier Wildlife Management Area. It takes at least 90 minutes from the Golden Triangle to reach the site. This Field Trip is much more a come and go as you wish trip, and help on hawk identification is always available on the tower during Hawk Watch season!
Our leaders may lead a group into the nearby woods looking for migrants, but you may stay on the tower if you wish. Mosquitoes are not normally a problem on the tower. Availability of food and fuel is essentially non-existent in Smith Point, so bring your lunch!
The Smith Point Hawk Watch is conducted every day from August 15 through the end of October by the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory.
Historically, the peak of Broad-wing Hawk migration was September 25, although in recent years at Smith Point, it has tended to be later and less uniform, and sometimes large numbers of Broad-wings have passed through in the first few days of October. Should a cold front pass through, the days immediately following usually have a north wind, and more migrating hawks of all species on those days.
Previous years' results are at http://hawkcount.org, so you can do your own analysis! The exact peak day probably depends more on the weather on the migration path from Pennsylvania down to east Texas, and particularly on the two or three days prior. However, almost all migratory hawks are coming from areas further north although Broad-wings breed over almost all of the eastern half of the United States, including the Golden Triangle, a large percentage are coming from the southern tier of Canada, even as far west as British Columbia.
Should a cold front pass through, the days immediately following usually have a north wind, and there tend to be more migrating hawks of all species on those days. For more information, contact Field Trip Chair Steve Mayes (firstname.lastname@example.org).