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Mark & Roberta Buchanan

Roberta and Mark Buchanan are nature enthusiasts who are always eager to share their outdoor experiences with others. Roberta is a retired educator with a passion for birding, and Mark is a retired engineer who enjoys photography.

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Yes! We saw 3,759 Broad-winged Hawks, 23 Northern Harriers, 169 American Kestrel, and 293 Sharp-Shinned Hawks at Hawk Cliff on September 14th, 2016. Bald Eagles are also a common sight but because there are resident Bald Eagles it is hard to tell which ones are actually migrating.

Wednesday brought clouds and north-west winds to the north shore of Lake Erie, making conditions that were favorable for seeing a large number of migrating raptors. Our day began in Port Stanley with a quick stop at the Village Square Coffee Shop for a delicious coffee and some sweets. The official Hawk Cliff counters were set up on a small knoll and they were all hopeful for a good day based on the weather forecast, as the previous one had been dismal for numbers of birds. They weren’t disappointed (and neither were we), as literally thousands of birds passed over our field of view over the course of the day. (more…)

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Here is a simple tip that will help improve your bird photos no matter what type of camera you are using.

Photography is essentially the capture of light. The way light strikes your subject makes a significant difference to the quality of your photo. How can you use this fact to get a better shot? Pay attention to where the sun is when you are shooting. Ideally the sun should be directly behind you when you photograph a bird. I know, this is the reverse from taking photos of people outdoors: if the sun is behind the photographer, every person in your photo is squinting because the sun is shining right into their eyes when they look towards you. But birds don’t typically squint, and by placing yourself with the sun behind you this will achieve the best possible lighting and minimize shadows. How can you judge quickly where the sun is? Look at your shadow, if your shadow is pointing towards the bird, this is ideal.

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The sun was over my right shoulder when I took this shot. Note the catch light in the bird’s eye and the vivid plumage and the warm background tones.

 

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If the allure of migrating raptors isn’t quite enough, Hawk Cliff is also a great place to see Monarch butterflies. These insects follow a similar route to the hawks and eagles when they head south for the winter, which means they also pass through the Hawk Cliff area.

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Regardless of the warm weather we have been enjoying, migratory birds will still head south on schedule. Raptor migration is underway and that means a trip to Hawk Cliff should be on your calendar. Driving to Hawk Cliff takes approximately 1h 30m from the Sarnia area. The site is located only a few kilometers from Port Stanley on the north shore of Lake Erie, and is a prime place to view raptors flying overhead.

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