Attending Hawk Watch Ramona
A few years ago I was flipping through Westways magazine when I noticed a blurb about an event in Ramona called Hawk Watch. Now, I’ve got a weakness for raptors so it instantly piqued my interest. But, as things go I didn’t make it that year. Or the next year. Or the next. So this year I put it on my 2019 “Must Do” list and headed south to see some hawks.
Now, I have to admit I’m not that familiar with the San Diego area and this was my first visit to the town of Ramona. Located in the northern part of the county just east of Escondido it’s a largely rural area filled with wide open spaces just perfect for raptors.
In fact, the Ramona Grasslands are home to golden eagles, bald eagles, hawks, owls and several other birds. Winter is breeding season making for optimal viewing of these amazing creatures so every Saturday morning in January and February is devoted to Hawk Watch.
Hawk Watch is presented by Wildlife Research Institute, a non-profit that conducts research, provides data and educates the public about wildlife and their habitats. Through their efforts 7,000 acres of the grasslands have been saved so that the wildlife that inhabits it can continue to prosper. Since a significant number are raptors the institute started Hawk Watch to educate the public about their avian neighbors.
During January and February a private ranch opens their lands to the public in order to enjoy the free Hawk Watch program. Reading about it I figured it was a small affair attracting a handful of people.
Boy, was I wrong. Last Saturday I was among a crowd of about 400 eager to learn all about hawks. Luckily, there’s plenty of open space and it was easy to follow the 2 hour program. We learned much about the different species of raptors and their lifestyles, viewed several up close and got to see some amazing demonstrations.
Several falconers joined the program in order to demonstrate the fascinating skills hawks and falcons have. We watched one soar 1/2 a mile away then return when the falconer called. Another swooped up 200 feet to grab some bait attached to a drone and a third dive bombed the crowd to showcase its amazing ability.
it was a fun and fascinating event for folks of all ages. At Hawk Watch the raptors are truly stars!
Hawk Watch continues every Saturday in January and February from 10am-12pm in the Ramona Grasslands. It’s 100% free and all ages are welcome. It may have taken me a few years to attend but it was well worth it. Don’t procrastinate like me!