Steve Baker and Ed Pike both got a well-deserved break from counting raptors today, so it was up to the amateur crew of Bruce Seeger and Sue Stewart to do our best. The day got off to an interesting start, with a number of duck hunters in the water just across the road from our watch site. Just as we arrived there were boats being pulled onto trailers, trucks driving through the water, duck calls sounding, and decoys being bagged up for another day.
The weather was fair, winds light and variable, cold overnight but the day warmed up with the sun. There were not nearly enough clouds in the sky for us! We started at 11 and worked until 2. 11-12 was very slow, just a couple Monarchs, some dragonflies, and a flock of cowbirds hanging around. Noon to one picked up nicely with a few red-tailed and broad-winged hawks, and a red-shouldered hawk. From one to two, we had our hands full. By then the few cumulus clouds had drifted along and we were left with deep blue sky, and some very high, light cirrus clouds moving in. With the sun high and the sky blue, birds were hard to see, and to make it even harder, everyone seemed to be flying very high. Once they got high enough that they were hard to see by naked eye, they also sometimes slipped behind high clouds just thick enough to blur the image. We had a series of turkey vulture kettles, most with a few hawks or eagles mixed in, and two set of sandhill cranes flying very high. Bruce was able to identify all the hawks. In the end we had just one mystery bird. We first saw it almost straight overhead, flying Southeast, fast and very high. It was a large duck or goose with a white front and black on its wings and head. All told, it was not a bad way to spend a Saturday.
1 juvenile red-tailed, 6 adults
52 turkey vultures
4 adult bald eagles, 1 juvenile
1 cooper’s hawk
47 sandhill cranes
1 unknown duck or goose
from Sue Stewart