Monday, October 22, 2007

Slow days for Hawks at Hawk Hill / Cormorant cull

Probably due to the stormy weather that Toronto had all week, or the strong southwest winds that blew on days when it wasn't raining, not many hawks flew through the area of High Park at all. Those of us at the hawk count envisage that a large number of Turkey Vultures probably fly through the area daily, but new tree growth on Hawk Hill has obstructed the view of the northern horizon where many birds likely fly by unnoticed. I was told that the weekend of OFO brought good hawk numbers including a single Golden Eagle (on this year's wish list) and a handful of Red-shouldered Hawks (which I have yet to see this year as well). So far, out of the annual raptors, I'm still missing Red-shouldered and Rough-legged Hawks, Northern Goshawk, and Golden Eagle. Fortunately, these are all late-season migratory species and I have a good chance to get every one of them. Of course, I'll have no trouble finding Rough-legged Hawks along highways in southern Ontario throughout the winter but I'd like to see a few in migration and study the fine details of their flight.

I was able to make it out Saturday and Sunday of this week and very little flew over; A moderate number of Sharp-shinned Hawks, a few Kestrels, and a handful of Red-tails (migrants and locals). Only a few Turkey Vultures are being reported even though other hawk counts along Lake Erie are getting huge numbers currently.

Tonight I'm attending a meeting on the proposed Double-crested Cormorant cull on Middle Island which should be very interesting. I am mostly against the proposal thinking there is too little evidence to support a cull of this size but I'll certainly be making a post soon to discuss this topic in more detail and also give my opinion. I can say that I worked for the Ministry of Natural Resources in 2006 and never did another employee discuss Cormorant populations as a factor in the amount of fish stock in Lake Erie. I also think there are too many factors involved in the management of the population that haven't been investigated enough to allow such drastic decisions. My guess is that the proposal coincides with Canada's decision to buy the island and is an issue of economics and based on the concerns of specific stakeholders rather than an issue of conservation. If the ownership of the small land mass was still in dispute, would there be nearly as much heat over whether the Cormorant population is a problem at all? Apparently, slides demonstrating the damage done to 1/3 of the tree population on the island are to be shown as well as a presentation on why the cull has been deemed appropriate.

The following document is very informative and should be read by anyone concerned with the cull or looking for more information on the proposed plans. It is the AOU's full report on the proposed Cormorant cull including criticism, recommendations, and alternative solutions. You'll need Adobe Acrobat:

Review of the Double-crested Cormorant Management Plan, 2003: Final Report of the AOU Conservation Committee's Panel

No comments: