SEASON AT THE POINT: The Birds and Birders of Cape May by Jack Connor, illustrations by Don Almquist (Atlantic Monthly Press: $21.95; 320 pp.). Bird-watchers get no respect, often being caricatured as coveys of blue-haired widows in tennis shoes. That portrayal is certainly inapplicable to hawk-watchers, the principal focus of this book; most of the birders whom Jack Connor encounters are young, rugged and intrepid, forgoing many nights of sleep to find owls, and traveling to exotic places such as Greenland to study hawks. Connor spent the fall, 1988, fly-by season at the premier hawk-watching location in the United States--more than 80,000 raptors have been spotted over Cape May in the peak migration months--and as a birder himself, his immersion in this peculiar subculture is complete. It's surprisingly divided: Bird-watchers often call bird-banders inhumane; ornithologists deem bird-banders unscientific; hawk-lovers ridicule warbler-lovers as wimpy, and so on. Connor's description of the banding process is the most interesting part of the book, for there's more to "fishing in the sky," as the banders call it, than lifting a pair of binoculars.