The hawks are headed South mostly, though the Audubon lecturer at Hawk Hill mentioned that they put a monitor on a Red-tailed Hawk who traveled up to eastern Oregon instead. Despite this outlier, if you live in the Bay Area, you can take an hour or two and go to the Marin Headlands, just beyond the Golden Gate Bridge, and pretty much be guaranteed to see raptors soaring across the hills or over the bay: Red-tailed, Cooper’s, Sharp Shinned, Falcons, Turkey Vultures, all gliding, flapping, dipping over the valleys or the azure or fog-grey water.
All summer, the marine layer has smothered the bay area with fog This week, the fog retreated out beyond the Golden Gate, its white cloudy puffs flirting with the bridge like a girl drawing the edge of her petticoat up and then letting it fall back. This most scenic spot (when not fogged in) is a magnet for tourists, teachers with their small flocks learning about nature, and the hawk counters, who watch each of the cardinal directions and track the annual numbers. They call to each other as the birds head from their quadrant to towards the next. They call to the monitor who tallies the numbers. And behind it all, the strange drone of the fog horns. Here are some images…
The walk up to Hawk Hill, and a tree along the way:
Here is one view from the top:
Can you just make out the image of a vulture against the fog in the center bottom of the photo? In the next one, looking East, you can see Mt. Diablo across the bay:
And finally, here are some North Quadrant hawk counters and their gear:
As a bonus, here is a poem by the now often neglected pioneering poet of the wild California coast, Robinson Jeffers:
Rock and Hawk
Here is a symbol in which
Many high tragic thoughts
Watch their own eyes.
This gray rock, standing tall
On the headland, where the seawind
Lets no tree grow,
Earthquake-proved, and signatured
By ages of storms: on its peak
A falcon has perched.
I think here is your emblem
To hang in the future sky;
Not the cross, not the hive,
But this; bright power, dark peace;
Fierce consciousness joined with final
Life with calm death; the falcon’s
Realist eyes and act
Married to the massive
Mysticism of stone,
Which failure cannot cast down
Nor success make proud.