Swainson's Hawk show over Lake Forest
- Today (30 March), while working in the northwest "corner" of Lake Forest, was kept entertained by the largest group of Swainson's Hawks I've ever seen in Orange County. From approximately 10:45 to 12:15 there were easily 25 to 30 birds (likely a very conservative estimate) in this area. From my vantage point it really wasn't possible to get an accurate estimate due in part to birds that seemed to be lingering in the area, and others that appeared to be passing on through. This was in an open space area of Lake Forest a bit north of the west end of Commercentre Drive(the "missing link", or future extension, section of Alton Parkway). Many of the birds appeared to be actually foraging over the eastern edge of the Nature Reserve that is associated with the former MCAS El Toro air base (roughly between Irvine Blvd on the south and the 241 tollroad and Portola Parkwy to the north). Interestingly, the birds appeared to be hawking for aerial-type insects, while on the wing over the open terrain in this area. Of course, with a group this size, almost every plumage type and variation was represented (with intermediate morphs possibly being in the majority). Lots of photos taken, mostly poor as too distant unfortunately, but will post a few to the raptors file (eventually). Neat birds, and encouraging to see numbers like this even in little old Orange County. (Too bad though that we have so little suitable habitat left for a number of our winter visitor and resident raptor species, e.g., Ferruginous Hawk, Prairie Falcon, Golden Eagle, Burrowing Owl, etc.).