Author Archives: Jason Bojczyk

Hawk Count-September 11th Through 14th

can i buy provigil in canada Raptors: Raptors were slow until today, but not nearly as slow as anticipated, due in large part to significantly different weather than predicted. We are starting to get into the peak period, where raptors could move no matter what (apart from rain). That surely was the case today, when they significantly picked up, and the 1,000th raptor of the season was tallied. It didn’t take much to reach that today, as we only needed 4 birds, but we tallied well beyond 4 birds. Raptors went from slow to peak numbers in just a day, without any gradual buildup. Winds were supposed to be sustained 20 mph from the west, gusting to 25 mph all day, and we only had 18 mph sustained for the first hour, and then averaging 11 mph sustained the rest of the day. The clouds broke up and the raptors burst loose, especially Sharpies. A remarkable 214 were tallied today! This is higher than the seasonal peak number recorded last year (204 on October 2nd), as well as the seasonal peak number in 2017 (213 on September 25th). Tallying this many 11 days before the earliest previous peak, suggests we are in for some even bigger days in the days/weeks to come. Incredibly, we are still behind last year’s pace for Sharpies at this point in the season. At this date last year, the season had 131 more Sharpies tallied than we have this season.

The past few seasons the peak period for raptors has roughly been September 20th to October 31st, with September 10th to 20th also very good. A potential trend has also supported this the past two seasons. Starting from the day after the 1,000th raptor was tallied, the next 6 weeks averaged ~1,300 raptors/week. In 2017, the 1,000th raptor was tallied on September 22nd. The next 6 weeks (September 23rd to November 3rd) averaged 1,272 raptors/week. In 2018, the 1,000th raptor was tallied on September 10th. The next 6 weeks (September 11th to October 22nd) averaged 1,302 raptors/week. In each of these seasons, the only week (of the 6) that didn’t tally at least 1,000 raptors/week was the first week following the 1,000th raptor tallied, where the first week in 2017 tallied 948 raptors, and the first week in 2018 tallied 930 raptors. It’s remarkable how similar these seasons were in this aspect.

Another somewhat surprising thing is that despite averaging 1,300 raptors/week during this peak period, not every day, or even 90%+ tallies 100+ raptors. It should be around 185 raptors/day for 6 weeks if all was evened out, but there are unfavorable weather conditions and peak pulses that reduce the number of 100+ days. With peak days within this peak and bad weather days one would still think at least 80% of all days would tally 100+ raptors/day, but that still is not the case. However, a respectable 2 out of 3 days tallies 100+ raptors during this 6 week period. Once again there are remarkable similarities between the two seasons in this aspect. In 2017, during this 6 week period, 27 out of 42 days tallied 100+ raptors for a percentage of 64% of days tallying 100+ raptors during this 6 week period. In 2018, 28 out of 42 days tallied 100+ raptors for a percentage of 67% of days tallying 100+ raptors during this 6 week period. It’ll be interesting to see if this season has similar results.

An American Kestrel caught two snakes on the 12th
American Kestrel

Read Full Report September 11th: Twenty-seven Sharpies and 2 Merlin were the most notable of the 43 raptors tallied.

September 12th: American Kestrels had their best day at the time, with 6 birds. Thirty Sharpies and 8 additional raptor species were the most notable of the 71 raptors tallied.

September 13th: Twenty-five raptors were tallied comprised of Northern Harrier (2), Sharp-shinned Hawk (18), American Kestrel (4), and unknown falcon (1).

September 14th: The best day of the season so far, with the first double-digit (countable) raptor species day (10) and 365 individuals. Nearly 200 more Sharpies were tallied than just the day before, and the 214 tallied today was significantly more than the previous peak this season of 39 birds. American Kestrels had a very strong day, with 20 tallied and a new seasonal peak. Bald Eagles and Turkey Vultures had their 2nd best days of the season, with 51 and 63 birds respectively. Five Harriers tied their seasonal peak of 5 individuals. The 2nd Peregrine Falcon of the season flew by as well.

One of today’s (September 14th) migrant Osprey

Non-raptors: American Goldfinch, Canada Goose, and Cedar Waxwings have started to pick up some. Goldfinches have been in the 40s most days and Cedar Waxwings increased to 48 on the 12th. Eighty-six geese flew by on the 12th, the most so far this season. There have been two Sandhill Cranes in the immediate area since the start of the count and it looks like they took off today, as two headed out south over the straits, rather low. The first American Golden-Plover of the season flew by on the 13th. Other highlights include daily Common Loons, Red-necked Grebes, and a lone Rock Pigeon.

Monarchs: 56 on the 11th was the most during the period.

Best of the next 5 days: There is a chance of rain tomorrow and Thursday. Otherwise, the weather looks very similar and it’s hard to know which day will produce the most raptors. All days should be very good. Although Broad-winged Hawks don’t move in huge numbers through Pointe LaBarbe, the best numbers so far this season are likely to occur during the next 5 days.

Hawk Count-September 5th Through 10th

A very early (for Pointe LaBarbe) Northern Goshawk was the highlight of the period in the raptor department
The first somewhat sizable kettles of the season occurred on the 9th

Raptors: Raptors picked up significantly during the period. Of the 6 days, 3 were very poor and 3 were very good. In fact, just 3 days of counting, September 7th, 8th and 9th, made up more than 50% of the total raptors seen this season in 22 days of counting! Furthermore, one hour alone on September 9th (from 12-1) tallied more raptors than any other DAY but one this season, with 86 birds recorded during the hour.

September 5th: A very slow day, with only 4 raptors tallied.

September 6th: Not a single migrant raptor was tallied. It rained until 11, with very low clouds throughout the day.

September 7th: Seventy-three raptors of 9 species made this the best day of the season at the time. The clear highlight of the day, and period, was an immature Northern Goshawk that immediately headed south over the straits. Goshawks are rather rare at Pointe LaBarbe, with all but 1 of the 8 recorded last season occurring in the 2nd half of October. The earliest recorded last year was on October 13th, so this season’s bird was rather early. Even in the seasons to come this should still be a very early date for a migrant Northern Goshawk. 13 Sharpies, 11 Broad-wingeds, and 3 Kestrels had their best day of the season at the time. The first migrant Peregrine Falcon of the season flew south. 24 Bald Eagles was a nice tally as well.

September 8th: One-hundred and five raptors of 8 species made this the best day of the season at the time. Turkey Vulture (29), Sharp-shinned Hawk (23), Cooper’s Hawk (2), Broad-winged Hawk (16), and American Kestrel (3), had their best day of the season at the time. Bald Eagles also had another nice day, with 29 recorded.

September 9th: The best day of the season, with 278 raptors, and five new seasonal peaks. Bald Eagles were arguably the best highlight of the day, with 82 birds recorded. 35 Bald Eagles flew south in one hour alone (11-12). It’s hard to know if this will remain the peak day of the season. Last year, Bald Eagles peaked on September 22nd, with 119 birds. However, more than 120 Bald Eagles have been recorded this year than last year at this point in the season. Turkey Vultures and Broad-wingeds had by far their best day of the season, with 87 and 58 birds respectively. Of the 87 Turkey Vultures recorded, 83 crossed the straits. Five Osprey and 39 Sharpies had their best day as well.

September 10th: Rain, then a drizzle to start, and very low clouds throughout the day led to one lone migrant for the day-a Sharp-shinned Hawk.

An Osprey hung around the count site for 4 days
Peregrine Falcon
Northern Harrier

Non-raptors: Most interesting during the period were 6 Red-throated and 9 Common Loons on the 7th, 2 American Pipits on the 8th, and a Northern Pintail today (the 10th). Other birds of interest during the period included Great Blue Heron, Pileated Woodpecker, Chimney Swift, Northern Flicker, Common Grackle, Palm Warbler, Eastern Kingbird, Hooded Merganser, and a slight increase in the number of American Goldfinches. Canada Goose are now being seen about every other day in very small numbers.

Five very distant Red-throated Loons flew east over the Mackinac Bridge on the 7th
The first Northern Pintail of the season on the 10th

Monarchs: The 7th was the last really good day for them, with 603 tallied. Other notable counts included 109 on the 8th and 98 on the 5th. It is highly unlikely any more triple-digit days will occur this season.

Other: On the evening of the 7th I headed up to Point Iroquois to do some ‘lakewatching’. 15 mph northwest winds seemed ideal for waterbirds, but it was quite slow. Most interesting was a single flock of 33 Canada Goose, which contained one blue-morph Snow/Ross’s Goose. Other birds of interest included 2 Blue-winged Teal, 87 Red-necked Grebes, and a Bald Eagle that came in off the lake.

A blue-morph Snow/Ross’s Goose (center, bottom) in the lone Goose flock of the day at Point Iroquois. Canada Goose migration will start picking up soon

Best of the next 5 days: Tomorrow (Wednesday) should be by far the best day of the period, as long as the rain holds off. After that, Sunday should be the next best day if it doesn’t rain. Apart from an expected nice day tomorrow, this is likely to be the last slow period for raptors until we get closer to the end of the season.

Hawk Count-August 30th Through September 4th

Raptors: Raptors have continued to remain slow through the period. The best day was on August 31st, with 50 individuals tallied, comprised of 8 species. The breakdown for that day was Turkey Vulture-6, Osprey-2, Bald Eagle-23, Northern Harrier-2, Sharp-shinned Hawk-5, Cooper’s Hawk-1, Broad-winged Hawk-6, and Red-tailed Hawk 5. Today (September 4th) had light, northwest winds, with sunny conditions, but yielded a very surprising total of only 8 raptors. Osprey and Kestrels are now seen most days, but still only a few individuals at most. Broad-winged Hawks continue to remain largely absent.

Non-raptors: The clear highlight of the period was an American White Pelican on August 30th. The bird was initially riding a thermal with a Bald Eagle far in the east, before disappearing out of view. 30 minutes later, it flew right down the shore, behind the hawk count site, flying west out of view. Other highlights have been far and few between with 3 White-winged Scoters, a Least Sandpiper, a Solitary Sandpiper, 5 Great Egrets, and a few Palm Warblers the best of the rest. Canada Goose migration has commenced, with 6 birds on the 2nd and a flock of 16 today.

American White Pelican with Bald Eagle
American White Pelican with Bald Eagle
American White Pelican flying near Green Island
American White Pelican
White-winged Scoters

Monarchs: Monarchs more than made up for raptors with likely peak numbers coming through during the period. Every day but Tuesday, when it rained, tallied at least 150 Monarchs. The best day was on September 2nd, when 3,488 were tallied!!! At times there were over 100 Monarchs surrounding the count site, and many Monarchs could be seen in the distance as well at all heights. It was rather difficult to attempt to count them, but surely this tally was only a portion of those going across. It wouldn’t surprise me if 10,000 Monarchs flew across the vicinity of the straits that day. 406 Monarchs were tallied today, (September 4th) but they may be winding down very quickly. Last year, the show ended nearly as quickly as it came, with no notable Monarch counts beyond September 6th. The peaked a few days later this year though, so perhaps they’ll continue in good numbers to at least September 10th this year.

Best of the next 5 days: Northerly winds are bound to be good for raptors one of these days, which means Saturday is likely to be one of the best days of the period. Sunday looks good as well. Tomorrow, Thursday, may see a moderate number of Bald Eagles move through.

Hawk Count-August 26th Through 29th

Raptors: There’ve been two poor days and two good days. The good days have been completely dominated by Bald Eagles. August 27th tallied 33 Bald Eagles for the day, including 21 birds in a period of one hour. Today, August 29th, tallied 44 Bald Eagles, including 29 birds in one hour. Interestingly, these two days both had their Bald Eagle daily peak occur between 10 AM and 11 AM. Last season, 74% of all Bald Eagles tallied occurred between the hours of 11 AM and 2 PM. However, the next biggest hour for Bald Eagles last year (the 4th best hour) occurred between 10 AM and 11 AM (and contained 13% of all Bald Eagles recorded). Additionally, the hour between 10 AM and 11 AM contained the highest number of Bald Eagles in a one-hour span last season, with 43 birds (tallied on September 22nd). It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out the rest of this season and if the hours between 11 AM and 2 PM once again become the 3 best hours for Bald Eagles. It was the case for the first two notable Bald Eagle days this season (August 20th and August 25th).

Other than Bald Eagles, not much has been moving through. Northern Harriers have been seen most days, and the 5 birds tallied today may be one of the top 5 days this season.

Bald Eagles have been then highlight thus far
Northern Harriers had their best day of the season so far, with 5 birds recorded

Non-raptors: Not much to speak of. Around half a dozen Common Loons have flown over most days. 30 Barn Swallows on the 26th was the most this season. A Hooded Merganser was on the lake a few days, and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have been crossing the lake daily, albeit in rather small numbers.

Common Loons are daily

Monarchs: Monarchs continue to pass through in very small numbers, with a peak of 33 on the 26th, during the period. Today only tallied 14. The way the Monarchs have been recently, it’s hard to believe that a year ago today tallied 5,484 Monarchs (http://www.mackinacraptorwatch.org/2018/08/hawk-count-and-tons-of-monarchs-august-29th/). However, there is still hope that good numbers may be coming in the near future.

Best of the next 5 days:

Raptors-It’s quite hard to predict which will be the next best day in the near future. Tomorrow is calling for strong west-northwest winds which could result in the best day so far this season, or be mostly a bust. After that, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday have rather similar forecasts, with light, mostly southerly winds. Every day we get closer to Tuesday has increased the chance for rain and/or thunderstorms that day, so that day can be ruled out. It does seem like the next 4 days will have similar results to the last 3 days of August last year (https://hawkcount.org/month_summary.php?rsite=799&ryear=2018&rmonth=08). There should be an increase in the number of Turkey Vultures, Osprey, Northern Harriers, Sharpies, Broad-wingeds, and Kestrels. There should be at least one more good day of Bald Eagles during this period as well.

Monarchs-Likewise, it’s hard to predict what the Monarchs will do, but the next 5-8 days should set the tone for how the rest of the season will play out for them. The two best days last year occurred during light, mostly northerly winds. In fact, there was even a rain until 11 AM on the peak Monarch day last year. Tomorrow has a northerly component to the wind, but it’s much stronger. 100+ Monarchs/day were moving last year during this time of year on light, southerly winds, which is what will mostly be the case Saturday through Monday. Longer forecasts are all showing Wednesday and Thursday to be when the next cold front/northerly winds occur. If these forecasts hold true, then we will know by the end of Thursday (September 5th) if Monarchs will be moving through in numbers similar to last year.

Hawk Count-August 21st Through 25th

Porcupine on the morning of the 22nd

Raptors: Bald Eagles and Turkey Vultures have been steady and in fairly good, early season numbers. Everything else, not so much. The northerly winds predicted for 3 days straight didn’t occur for more than a few hours in a row, nor were they nearly as strong as predicted. The first Northern Harrier and Red-shouldered Hawk of the season headed out over the lake on the 21st and the first migrant American Kestrel was seen on the 24th. Including non-migrants, 8 raptor species have been present most days. The first push of Turkey Vultures occurred on the 23rd, with 27 birds recorded. On the 22nd, 31 Bald Eagles were in view at one time at one point in the day. Unfortunately, most of these stayed to the northwest on this day. Today, however, Bald Eagles had a nice pulse of migration. Twenty-four Bald Eagles flew south in 35 minutes (12:00-12:35) and ended the day with a total of 31 birds. Similar to last year in August/September, (and this post http://www.mackinacraptorwatch.org/2018/09/hawk-count-august-31st/) 4-10 Bald Eagles were ‘kettled up’ in the northwest and then streamed across the straits in groups of 3-5 birds. 1-2 local Peregrine Falcons have been present on a few days.

Peregrine Falcons

Non-raptors: Not much has been moving through in any kind of numbers, but there has been decent diversity. A Hooded Merganser was on the lake for most of the day on the 23rd. A Sora briefly flew up out of a ditch on the same day and two Sandhill Cranes have been daily since this day as well. Shorebirds of interest the last few days include Semipalmated Plover, Least Sandpiper, and Greater Yellowlegs. Common Loons have been flying over most days. A couple of Alder and Least Flycatchers have been calling in the mornings. Two Marsh Wrens were present the morning of the 23rd. A House Finch flew east over the point this morning. A few Bobolinks and Indigo Buntings have been streaming over some days. Warblers have been disappointing so far in terms of numbers and daily diversity. Most interesting has been an Ovenbird and two Northern Waterthrushes.

Monarchs: Monarchs have been slow the last 3 days. However, 123 and 202 were recorded on the 22nd and 21st respectively, during count hours.

Best of the next 5 days: Strong southerly winds are predicted Monday-Thursday which is likely to result in few birds and Monarchs moving. If the forecast holds true, Friday will be the best day of the next 5. There are currently conflicting forecasts, but one forecast has moderate to strong west-northwest winds.

Hawk Count-Opening Day at Pointe LaBarbe-August 20th

It was an excellent opener for the season, despite the mostly southwest winds. This year, we are starting 5 days earlier and ending 4 days earlier. In other words, the season will be from August 20th to November 10th, at the same location as last fall, Pointe LaBarbe. Last August, in just one week of counting, 339 raptors comprised of 12 species were tallied. Three consecutive days of 75 or more raptors, including one day with 10 raptor species, certainly exceeded expectations for so early in the season. Additionally, 4 species had (or tied) their seasonal high counts on August 29th alone (Osprey-3, Northern Harrier-10, Cooper’s Hawk-3, and Broad-winged Hawk-63).

Raptors: It was rather incredible to reach double-digit raptor species (10) on the first day of the count. However, just 6 of these species were actual migrants, with the other 4 species behaving like local birds. Bald Eagles were the definite highlight of the day, with 23 migrants recorded. The first good day for Bald Eagles last year wasn’t until August 31st, with 44 birds recorded, so it’s great to already be ahead of pace of last year’s excellent Bald Eagle total.

Other migrant raptors recorded today included: Turkey Vulture-2, Osprey-1, Sharp-shinned Hawk-3, Broad-winged Hawk-1, and Red-tailed Hawk-3. Other raptors seen today included Northern Harrier, Cooper’s Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, and Merlin.

Non-raptors: The clear highlight came yesterday, the 19th, in the form of a female Orchard Oriole. This is a rather rare bird in the Upper Peninsula, particularly in the fall, and will be one of the highlights of the season. Other highlights the past two days include Common Loon-2, Red-necked Grebe25, Pectoral Sandpiper-1, Solitary Sandpiper-4, Lesser Yellowlegs-2, Great Egret-1, Bank Swallow-3, Cliff Swallow-6, Gray Catbird-1, Brown Thrasher-1, Purple Finch-2, and moderate numbers of warblers.

Orchard Oriole
Orchard Oriole

Monarchs: Only 2 were detected yesterday and just 9 today

Best of the next 5 days: The next three days are as good as one could hope for this early in the season-three days in a row of northerly winds. It’s hard to say which day is likely to be the best but it seems like Thursday, then Friday, and then Wednesday may be the order. Any, or all, of these days could see 75+ raptors as well as a dramatic increase in the number of Monarchs migrating past.

Hawk Count-October 25th-30th-Golden Eagles

One of twenty-one Golden Eagles on the 29th

Raptors have slowed down quite a bit during the period, with the first half of it once again impacted by poor weather.  The 29th was by far the best day for raptors.  Thanks to Steve and Ed for covering on the 27th and 28th.

10-25: A drizzle in the morning gradually turned into rain at 1:00, at which point it rained the rest of the day.  Just 1 Red-shouldered and 1 Rough-legged were tallied.

10-26: Rain throughout the day.

10-27:  A drizzle to light rain all day resulted in just 4 Sharpies, 20 Red-taileds, 2 Rough-leggeds, and a Merlin being tallied.  One “dark morph” Red-tailed was also tallied.

10-28: Forty-six raptors were tallied, the highlights being 2 Harriers, 1 Red-shouldered, and 8 Rough-legged Hawks.

10-29:  A high-quality day with nice numbers of the “later” migrants.  Golden Eagles were moving through most of the day, the best of which was when 3 were seen simultaneously crossing south in different flight paths.  All Goldens crossed with virtually no hesitation, most of which were adults.  At  the end of the day a rather nice total of 21 Golden Eagles were tallied.  Rough-legged Hawks had their first push of the season, with 19 birds, and Red-shouldered Hawks continued in good numbers, with 11 birds.  The accipiter hat trick was completed for the 3rd time this season, the best of which was an immature Northern Goshawk.  Bald Eagles finally made a decent push, with 13 birds.  Surprisingly, this is the largest number seen in a day this month.  An American Kestrel was the first in 9 days.

10-30:  An overcast day, with moderate southeast winds led to a small movement of raptors.  Two Golden Eagles were the best of the 49 raptors tallied, with 5 Red-shoulderedsa Rough-legged, and a “dark morph” Red-tailed nice as well.

Rough-legged Hawk

Rough-legged Hawk

Rough-legged Hawk

Non-raptors have been rather great lately, with a much more “wintery” feel to them.  The best of the period has been 77 Snow Buntings on the 25th, 112 Sandhill Cranes on the 27th, 566 Sandhill Cranes on the 28th, 166 Sandhill Cranes on the 29th, a Sharp-tailed Grouse on the 28th and 29th, 46 Rusty Blackbirds on the 28th, 18 American Tree Sparrows on the 28th, an American Pipit on the 28th, a Northern Shrike on the 29th and 30th, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet on the 29th, a White-winged Crossbill on the 29th, 722 Long-tailed Ducks on the 30th, a Great Blue Heron on the 30th, a White-crowned Sparrow on the 30th, a Common Redpoll on the 30th, and 645 American Goldfinches on the 30th.

Hundreds of Long-tailed Ducks were flying west over the woods on the 30th

A Northern Shrike has been around the past couple of days

Thursday through Saturday look really good for raptor migration and this period is very likely the “last hurrah” of any sizable migration of raptors for the season.  Friday and Saturday are likely to be the best of the three.  Large numbers (for Pointe LaBarbe) of Red-shouldered Hawks, Rough-legged Hawks, and Golden Eagles are likely to pass through this period.  The last remaining big Red-tailed days are likely to be during this period as well, with 400-1,000 birds likely moving through during these three days.  Northern Goshawks should be daily, and their biggest day of the season is likely to occur during this period.  If there are any 20+ Bald Eagle days left this season, they should occur during this periodHundreds of Sandhill Cranes, thousands of finches, and hundreds-thousands of ducks are all likely as well.  Thousands of birds should move through these three days, and it’ll be a great finale to the season.

Grant it, the season goes until November 14th, but after November 3rd hawk migration will be rapidly winding down, and the theme of October will continue into November: bad weather for raptor migration.  Of course, the forecast will change many times between now and the end of the season, but the forecast image below is incredibly ominous.  There should be a few nice days of raptor migration left after November 3rd, but it’ll greatly pale in comparison to October (or earlier).

If the forecast significantly alters for Thursday through Saturday, updates will be posted here.

The most disheartening forecast of the season for Pointe LaBarbe but it will undoubtedly change and not be as bad as is currently predicted…right???  (Image courtesy of weather.com)

Hawk Count-October 20th-24th

One of three Goshawks on the 23rd

Red-shouldered Hawk

The past 5 days has been rather nice for raptor migration, with no weather significantly impacting the count.  In fact, more than 1,000 raptors have passed through, or 15% of the season’s count.  The typical late-season raptors have been picking up quite a bit, especially Red-shouldered HawksSeventy-four have been tallied in the last 5 days, with a peak of 25 on the 20th.  Nearly all have been adults.  Turkey Vultures have dropped off significantly, with only a modest peak of 67 on the 22nd.  It appears they may be done with big numbers for the season, which is rather surprising given the weather this season.  Likewise, Bald Eagles have occurred in much smaller numbers than expected for October and no double digit days have occurred since the 2nd.  Also following suit slowing down are Sharp-shinned Hawks with a very small peak of 7 on the 22nd.  Northern Goshawks have been nice to see, with an adult on the 20th and 2 adults and an immature on the 23rd.  Red-tailed Hawks have been moving through in consistently moderate numbers, with a few hundred most days now.  The peak of the period (and season) occurred on the 22nd, with 335 birds tallied.  “Dark Morph” Red-tailed Hawks have occurred on a few days, with a peak of 4 on the 22nd. We are in Rough-legged Hawk season now and 2-5 birds have been daily.  The start of peak Golden Eagle migration is upon us, with lone birds tallied on the 21st and 22nd, and four on the 24th.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

We have definitely shifted more towards “quality raptors” vs. big numbers at this point in the season.  It was hoped that with the poor weather this month, large numbers of Turkey Vultures and moderate numbers of Sharp-shinned Hawks still would have continued, particularly the last 2 days.  Additionally, it seemed set up for a monster Red-tailed day on either of the last 2 days, but that has not occurred.  With a fair amount of rain now forecast through the rest of October, it’ll be really interesting to see what Red-taileds do through the rest of the month and season.  Have they already peaked?  Regardless, it’s still an exciting 3 weeks ahead of us, with Rough-legged Hawk and Golden Eagle peaks still ahead of us, and possibly Goshawks as well.

Recent non-raptor highlights have included over 500 Sandhill Cranes, dozens of White-winged Scoters, hundreds of Long-tailed Ducks, daily Horned Grebes on the lake, a Sanderling, Greater Yellowlegs, a  Great Black-backed Gull, hundreds of Crows, dozens of Chickadees, and the (presumed) long-staying Carolina Wren.  Snow Buntings and Redpolls arrived on the 21st, and American Tree Sparrow on the 24th.

Great Black-backed Gull

Hawk Count-October 15th-19th

Hail on the 15th

Snow on the 17th

The weather has continued to be rather neat and interesting for October, but not very conducive for raptor migration.  Despite these adverse conditions, raptors have still been attempting to migrate through the straits.

On the 15th there was rain until 11:45.  From 11:45 until 12:45 there was no form of precipitation, and this was when the raptors pushed through for the day.  After 12:45 there was more rain which transitioned into sleet, then snow, and finally hail.  A total of 186 raptors for the day was rather good considering all the weather, with highlights being 90 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 41 Red-tailed Hawks, a Broad-winged Hawk, and a Golden Eagle.

Hail on the 15th

On the 16th there was on and off rain until 12:45 and winds steady at 20 mph out of the SW to WSW, gusting to 30 mph throughout the day.  Only 4 raptors were tallied, but of these were Northern Harriers.

On the 17th there was snow and sleet squalls throughout the day, lasting up to 30 minutes at a time.  Fortunately there were NW winds all day, which led to 127 raptors tallied.  Eleven Red-shouldereds was the most so far this season and another Rough-legged Hawk flew by.

Red-shouldered Hawk

The first legit snow of the season on the 17th

The 18th saw strong SW winds all day, increasing in strength nearly every hour or two.  It was the first sunny day, that remained sunny, in over a month!  In fact, the last time we had this much sun was on September 17th!  This led to a rather nice movement despite a wind direction raptors had to work against.  In fact, they chose to go during the middle of the day, rather than the less windy, earlier part of the day.  From 12 until 2 contained the bulk of the flight, with most Red-tailed Hawks flying across the straits in steady 15 mph SW winds and still regularly crossing in steady 17 mph winds that were gusting to 25 mph.  It seemed as if the steady 18-20+ mph mark was when they stopped crossing into the SW wind.  Many still got to the lake but subsequently turned around and headed north or lingered around.  At one point there was even a distant kettle of 45 Red-tailed Hawks to the northeast, with an additional 17 in view at the same time.  So 148 of the 210 Red-tailed Hawks crossed the straits into a strong headwind.  This was incredibly surprising and unexpected to see.  Red-tailed Hawks prefer not to cross large bodies of water and yet they did so in some of the most unfavorable winds.  It was definitely the most unfavorable conditions I’ve ever seen Red-tailed Hawks cross anywhere.  From 1:00 onward, winds were steady at 18-25 mph and gusting 25-33 mph.

A total of 357 raptors were tallied for the day including 109 Turkey Vultures, 4 Red-shouldered Hawks, 4 Rough-legged Hawks, a “dark morph” Red-tailed Hawk, and a Golden Eagle.

Red-tailed Hawk

Rough-legged Hawk

Golden Eagle

Today, the 19th, saw SW winds steady at 20-26 mph, gusting to 39 mph, with rain from around noon onward.  Just 3 Sharpies were tallied.

Tomorrow may finally be the last day of this long stretch of strong winds.  As a plus it’s out of the NW so it might be rather productive, particularly for later season migrants.  After tomorrow no precipitation is currently in sight, and winds are forecast to be less than 15 mph for the near and long future.  With weather becoming “normal” again, we should start seeing raptors in average numbers again (hundreds).  The forecasts change hour to hour here more than anywhere I’ve ever been, but if the forecasts are correct, then Tuesday looks very promising.  If it stays that way (moderate NW winds) a 750+ raptor day is probable.

Hawk Count-October 9th-14th

Afternoon Conditions on Friday, the 12th

The first half of October has continued to be plagued by bad weather for hawk migration.  On the 9th there was heavy fog till noon.  On the 10th there was heavy fog throughout the day and rain in the afternoon.  On the 11th there were steady 25 mph SW winds, frequently gusting to 35 mph, all day long.  On the 12th there was sleet throughout the day transitioning into rain late.  On the 12th and to start the 13th it has looked (and felt!) much more like November than October.  Temperatures have been around 10 degrees cooler than normal for this time of year.  Despite the weather, there have been some signs that birds are wanting to move, and the 12th-13th probably had what would be raptors in average numbers for Pt. LaBarbe at this date.

There’s not much to speak of from the 9th through the 11th apart from a nice pulse of Sharp-shinned Hawks on the 9th.  A total of 126 pushed through in just a few hours after the fog lifted.

The 12th and the 13th have been incredibly similar to one another, with the addition of a few more species on the 13th.  A total of 369 raptors were tallied on the 12th, and 361 raptors were tallied on the 13th.  The breakdown of these two days’ species totals are side-by-side below, with the 12th first and the 13th second.

Turkey Vulture: 216, 202

Bald Eagle: 5, 6

Northern Harrier: 4, 5

Sharp-shinned Hawk: 56, 33

Cooper’s Hawk: 3, 1

Northern Goshawk: 0, 1

Red-shouldered Hawk: 8, 8

Broad-winged Hawk: 4, 0

Red-tailed Hawk: 65, 99

American Kestrel: 2, 1

Merlin: 0, 1

Peregrine Falcon: 1, 1

 

Apart from some Turkey Vultures crossing early this morning, it was a surprisingly dead day.  It was a darker overcast day than normal, but no wind seemed like decent conditions.

Turkey Vultures and Red-tailed Hawks have remained consistent the past two days and in numbers probably close to normal for the time of year.  Sharp-shinned Hawks have tailed off, suggesting their triple digit days may now be over.  The pick up in Red-shouldered Hawks has been nice to see, as was the prolonged look at an adult Northern Goshawk yesterday.

This adult Northern Goshawk gave some uncharacteristically prolonged views for several minutes before flying south to Green Island and then crossing the straits

Red-shouldered Hawk

Non-raptors have been comprised of many of the same as the past few weeks.  There has been an increase in diversity and numbers of waterfowl streaming past.  Two-hundred Sandhill Cranes on the 12th was nice and pushed us over 3,000 for the season Eleven Snow Geese (including 7 blue morph) flew by on the 13th.  Large numbers of American Crows having been crossing, with nearly 1,500 in the past three days Blue Jays have been moving in good numbers again and their season total is nearly 5,000 now.

Over 1,000 American Crows have flown south in the past few days

The near future continues to look bleak for raptor migration.  Rain, snow, and many really windy days are all forecast for the upcoming week.  When this poor weather finally ends it may really bust open though, particularly with Turkey Vultures, Red-tailed Hawks, and, if the weather is favorable sooner rather than later, Sharp-shinned Hawks.