On the 25th of August, HWI staff members Tori Thorpe and Chris Butler met with the Manzano Mountains migration crew members for the first time at Walt and Jennifer Lehman’s home. This couple generously stores a large portion of migration supplies during the off-season. Walt has also made most of the trapping setups for our sites and joins the Manzano’s count on weekends throughout the fall. Thank you, Walt and Jennifer, for your kindness. We truly could not do this without you!
The next morning the crew picked up their groceries and headed to camp. They were able to set up their wall tent, a communal space where they can huddle by the wood-burning stove, but a hail storm put the rest of the setup on hold.
Friday morning marked the first day of counting. While some crew members kept their eyes to the sky, everyone else set up the blind and trapping set. The crew also unpacked “the pit,” which is a dugout the Forest Service lets HWI store the site’s larger equipment in the off-season. The crew also received their first visitor, Angela Hawthorne, a friend and regular at the Manzano’s site.
Hawk watching has been a bit slow at the Manzano’s due to rainy weather, so much so that the crew members were placing bets for the first 100 bird day. Last Sunday, the crew finally received a break in the weather, and with it, their first 100 bird day! Who won the bet? Crew lead TC Walker. His reward? A jelly doughnut! Let us introduce you to TC and the 2021 migration crew.
TC Walker, Crew Lead
TC Walker is the lead banding technician at the Manzanos site. TC is returning for his fourth season with HWI, previously working at the Chelan Ridge site from 2015-2017. When he is not at an HWI site, he conducts breeding bird surveys across the American West. TC is looking forward to sharing his knowledge with up-and-coming biologists and the magic of fall migration.
Jennifer is returning for her second migration season in the Manzano Mountains. She has a background in Wildlife Biology from the University of Utah where she primarily gained experience banding passerines. For the past three years, Jennifer has worked with HWI on our American Kestrel Studies, as well as the Eagle Vehicle Strike project in 2018 and 2019. This season, Jennifer is excited to work alongside a crew and the simplicity of life on a mountain top.
Taylor Barnes comes from central California and received her Wildlife Ecology degree from the University of Nevada, Reno. She has previously worked a migration season at the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory, but this is her first season at a HawkWatch International site. Taylor has worked with HWI previously as an intern on our American Kestrel Studies. She is most excited to improve her ID skills this fall.
Sage Dale is new to HWI and hawk watching. She holds a degree from Oregon State University in Zoology and has previously worked with Kiwis, Gray Wolves, and Osprey. Through this opportunity, Sage hopes to grow her raptor handling and ID skills.
Parker Jensen is also new to the HWI team! He has previously visited HWI sites, but this will be his first time working a migration season. Parker graduated from the University of Minnesota and has spent the last four summers working with Spotted Owls in Northern California. He is excited to grow his knowledge of more raptor species and gain further banding experience.