Mount Peter Hawkwatch, 10/29/16

~GOLDEN EAGLE at Mount Peter Hawkwatch, 10/29/16.~ 

I was pretty sure that hawkwatch would be a dud this past Saturday. Southwest winds were in the forecast and the previous day’s count was on the low side (with a northwest wind!). Early on, it seemed like I was right; the watch got off to a very slow start, and I have to say, I was super cranky about it. I did not have a raptor of any sort for the first two hours and fifteen minutes, when I finally had a local Red-tailed Hawk hunting over the valley. Migrating birds started to trickle through shortly after that, but really, it was a slow day.

~GOEA at Mt. Pete, 10/29/16.~ 

Things started looking up when I got a visit from Gerhard and Tracy Patsch. We had some interesting conversations, and they seemed to have brought one of the local Red-tails along with them. It was the first time that I’ve had a local “tail” perch and hunt in the viewing platform area. And then bird put on a final show for us, hanging in the air directly above the platform and not very high up. The three of us really enjoyed great looks and I took many photos.

~Golden Eagle, apparently looking right at me?  Mount Peter Hawkwatch, 10/29/16.~

The highlight of the day came at 3:45 pm, when I counted just my 20th migrating raptor of the day, which was the GOLDEN EAGLE. I picked it up due north of the platform; it was distant but I knew immediately that it was an eagle and very shortly after that, that it was a Golden. As luck would have it, the bird flew slowly closer and passed at a nice easy pace right over the platform, circling several times before continuing due south. What a thrill it was, I am still freaking out about it a day later. The Golden Eagle is the 209th bird that I’ve had in Orange County this year. Here’s my report for the day:


Official Counter: Matt Zeitler

Visitors: Gerhard and Tracy Patsch, Tricia Zeitler, Carrie and Cruz Craigmyle, Bill, Carolyn, Cameron, and Mackenzie Martocci.

Weather: Partly cloudy with a southwest wind. Temperatures ranged from 4 to 18 degrees Celsius.

Raptor Observations: It was a slow start; the first raptor observed was a local Red-tailed Hawk over 2 hours and 15 minutes into the watch. One female Northern Harrier and at 3:45 one immature Golden Eagle passed through, circling right over the view platform, giving amazing views.

Non Raptor Species: American Crow (28), Blue Jay (24), White-breasted Nuthatch (2), Black-capped Chickadee (9), American Robin (32), Common Raven (2), Cedar Waxwing (25), Tufted Titmouse (1), Downy Woodpecker (1), Pileated Woodpecker (1), Ring-billed Gull (1), Red-bellied Woodpecker (1), Eastern Bluebird (5), Canada Goose (6), European Starling (20).

~GOEA at Mt. Pete Hawkwatch, 10/29/16.~
~I know, a lot of Golden Eagle shots, but when will I get this opportunity again? GOEA at Mt. Peter Hawkwatch, 10/29/16.~ 
~This young Red-tailed Hawk put on quite a show. Mt. Peter Hawkwatch, 10/29/16.~ 
~Going in for the kill, RTHA at Mount Peter Hawkwatch, 10/29/16. Unfortunately the bird came up empty on this attempt. 
~Local Red-tailed Hawk cruising by, Mt. Pete Hawkwatch, 10/29/16.~ 
~And, the local Tail checking out the situation from directly above the platform, Mt. Peter Hawkwatch, 10/29/16.~ 
~RTHA at Mt. Pete 10/29/16.~ 
And, finally, the obligatory Turkey Vulture photo. Even the vultures were sparse on this day at Mt. Pete, 10/29/16.~

6 thoughts on “Mount Peter Hawkwatch, 10/29/16”

  1. Definitely a day to remember! Congratulations on your beautiful Golden Eagle, and the Red-tail, though common in occurrence, is equally magnificent.

    1. Thanks Kathy, I agree, it’s a day to remember for sure. We are lucky to have such an amazing and fulfilling hobby. Matt

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