Volunteer Counters

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Volunteer Counters Needed!

You now have the opportunity to make a substantial, enduring contribution to hawk migration studies – and hawk conservation. For thirty years, the Eastern Massachusetts Hawk Watch has been studying and monitoring hawk migration through eastern Massachusetts. As part of our coverage, we’ve established two major long-term monitoring sites at Wachusett Mountain in Princeton and Mt Watatic in Asburnham. We’ve tallied over 330,000 migrating hawks at Wachusett (30 years), and over 150,000 at Watatic (19 years ). Over time, dozens of individuals have contributed to the watch, with 3663 hours of observation at Wachusett alone! Both sites are internationally recognized in Raptor Watch, a Global Directory of Raptor Migration Sites, and Wachusett is one of the longest-covered sites in the world.

Over the years, people like Paul Roberts, Bart Kamp, Ken Poole, Thom McCullough, Petti Staub, and Jane Stein have served as primary counters covering several weeks or more each fall. Ken, Thom, Petti and Jane have moved over recent years. This year, and looking forward , we do not have a volunteer who can cover Wachusett for 20 to 30+ days each fall. Without the efforts of 10-15 volunteers, that count will no longer be conducted. To continue this significant data base, we need your help.

This year we need ten people to volunteer to cover two or more days as site leader at Wachusett., primarily throughout September, but under appropriate conditions in October and November as well, if possible. We also need volunteers to count at Mt. Watatic, but the first coverage priority is Wachusett in September, where we have 30 years of cumulated data.

On many days there are experienced observers on Wachusett who personally do not want to officially count and report, but who are knowledgeable and willing to help you spot and count hawks and other migrants.

The task is rather simple.

  • Drive to the summit of Wachusett
  • From approximately 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. count all migrant hawks and other identifiable migrants moving past the mountain. Daily totals have ranged from 0 – 20,000, so anything is possible.
  • Count birds by species by hour on a field form.
  • Tally your hourly totals of species and the species totals for the day.
  • Report your daily totals to Paul Roberts by email or phone. , who will post it on several web sites that night.
  • Know that you have contributed to one of the oldest data bases on hawk migration trends in the east.
  • Repeat all of the above at least once.
  • Attend a special EMHW program late this fall to recognize everyone who has contributed to the watch, and see a special presentation on hawks and hawk migration.

Whether you are retired, unemployed, able to take several vacation days, or commit a weekend or two, we need your help.

If you don’t think you have enough experience, you are wrong. Everyone has been a beginner. There is no better way to learn than in the field, A number of major sites throughout North America, like Holiday Beach,. rely on volunteer observers to conduct their counts. If you think you could use some more preparation, or a refresher, EMHW is offering a special evening program on hawk identification , counting, and reporting. (Anyone can attend this special program, as long as they commit to covering Wachusett or Watatic for at least two dates this fall.) We’ll also have field trip real-time counting primer for any volunteers interested.

Volunteer for two dates or more. Be part of a long-term project. Make a difference.

To select your dates for coverage and obtain complete information on the hawk identification/migration seminar, or for more information on the coverage, contact:

Paul Roberts
email: phawk254@comcast.net or call 781-483-4263. after 8 p.m.