Text and photos by Phil Kavouriaris and Marie Soderbergh
Greetings from the Land of Enchantment! Here in the Manzanos, we're beginning the 30th consecutive season observing migrating raptors at the Manzano Mountains HawkWatch! It's been a great start thus far, aside from some wet weather. Some early season highlights include several immature Golden Eagles, an immature Northern Goshawk, a flurry of Ospreys and some spectacular views of our resident Peregrine Falcons. Trapping activities are heating up, with an immature Red-tailed Hawk leading the way as our good luck omen, as well as many feisty accipiters. Let's meet the crew:
New this year to the Manzanos, we have Marie Soderbergh, Stephanie Szarmach, and Brian Long. Marie comes to us from beautiful southern California with field experience working with Spotted Owls in Yosemite National Park and song bird banding experience in the Sierra Nevada and American Samoa. She is most looking forward to expanding her birding skills via observing and trapping raptors.
After counting and banding raptors for the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory last fall, Stephanie is excited for her first migration season with HawkWatch as lead trapper here at the Manzanos. A New Hampshire native, she has been working in the western half of the country since graduating from college in Ohio. Her favorite raptor is the Northern Goshawk, which she had the pleasure of surveying and banding in southern Idaho. She is looking forward to a great season in the beautiful Manzano Mountains, witnessing the raptor migration through New Mexico, and getting to know this dedicated group of crew and volunteers.
Brian returns to the Manzanos after an extended absence. After first visiting the site not long after its inception in 1990, he returns twenty six years later as a crew member with nearly two decades of wildlife field experience. A longtime resident of Taos, New Mexico, he is most looking forward to learning more about his home flyway as well as the many birds that utilize it.
Returning for her second year at the Manzanos and third season hawkwatching is Keelan Dann, who previously spent a season observing at Commissary Ridge HawkWatch in Wyoming. Our other southern California native, Keelan spent the spring and summer trekking through the iconic Sierra Nevada conducting point counts and avoiding hungry bears. Keelan hopes to eat many more green chiles than Phil and stare in wonderment at the vast knots of Swainson's Hawks. Mostly, she's excited to witness the coolness of raptors with Albuquerquians and other visitors.
Last but not least is our other returner and crew leader Phil, a native of Chicago, IL. He returns for his second season in the Manzanos and third season HawkWatching, having also spent a season at Commissary Ridge. He spent this past spring and summer monitoring Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons on the idyllic island of Santa Cruz in southern California. He also spent time surveying for Northern Goshawks and other feathered and furred creatures in the High Uintah Wilderness of northern Utah. Phil is most looking forward to witnessing some rare migrants to this site, including the Rough-Legged Hawk and the Gyrfalcon. Additionally, he'd like to trap a Bald Eagle, get his Green Chile fix at Frontier and spend time with all of our wonderful volunteers, without which this site would not have been able to achieve the success that it has for thirty years.