Driving home yesterday, as I traveled through Woodbury, Vermont, I kept my eyes out for wading birds in the marshlands that flow around the town. Woodbury is small. It doesn't have a stop sign as you travel down Rte. 14 much less a stoplight. What it lacks in signage it makes up for in pure scenic beauty, boasting many lakes, ponds, marshlands and forest. Having spotted several species of duck and the occasional Great Blue Heron in the marshlands along the road, I've become accustomed to keeping an eye out just in case there's something worth trying to photograph.
As I made my way through and out of town, I was surprised to eye a raptor perched on a power line just south of town. Eager to see what it was, I traveled farther down the road and turned back toward town. Unfortunately, by the time I turned around and walked along the road to capture photographs of him he had disappeared.
Approaching the same area today, my luck improved as I saw what I assume was the same bird again, this time atop one of the few road signs in Woodbury. As I drove by, he dove from his perch to the grass, presumably to catch a late afternoon snack. Having seen him depart his perch, I initially thought turning around to try to catch sight of him would be fruitless. But then that little voice in my head told me not to give up so easily.
Hoping my luck might continue to improve, I drove down the road and turned onto a town road, which loops right behind where I had seen him leave his perch. I slowed as I approached the area and eyed the quickly thinning treetops and dead trees between this dirt road and Rte. 14, hoping I might at least catch a glimpse of him for a positive identification. As I approached the spot where I last saw him, to my pleasure and surprise, he flew up from the grass onto this road sign only about 15 feet away from me. I slowed my truck to a stop, turned off the engine and readied my camera. He looked directly at me several times as I pulled my camera from its bag, but he clearly didn't seem to mind my presence. I was able to get off ten to fifteen photographs before he flew off, this time taking a spot on a telephone line across the road.
This is the third Broad-winged Hawk I've seen in as many months and the second I've been able to photograph. Soon, he will soon join hundreds and even thousands more as they begin their fall migration south. Just this last weekend, reports of nearly 400 of these small hawks were seen soaring above Mt. Philo in Charlotte, Vermont as they rode the thermal air currents high in the sky. Their and other bird species’ fall migration is another reminder of the change of seasons and the coming of autumn. Their looming departure makes this close encounter all that more special.