Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fall Raptor Migration - August Roundup

August 2010 proved to be a good start to the fall raptor migration season at a majority of the sites that count this early, buoyed by strong early flights of Broad-winged Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks and, to a lesser extent, Sharp-shinned Hawks.

Even the American Kestrel, whose numbers have dropped precipitously in recent years, had some good August results and didn’t seem to be much worse than average elsewhere. Kestrels put in an extra-good show on the last day of August at Greenlaw Mtn. in New Brunswick with 21. Lighthouse Pt. in Connecticut tallied 32 kestrels during the month, the most in at least 10 years (I didn’t look back further than that). To give you an idea of how good that number is, their 10-year August average for kestrels is 5.6 and last year they had just 3.

Cadillac Mtn. in Maine had a strong August, their second best in the past 8 years. Franklin Mtn. in New York was an exception to August’s overall strong results, turning in below average results for their efforts. Hawk Ridge in Duluth had nothing like the large August numbers they had last year, but with over 700 birds for the month, their results were still pretty good.

In Pennsylvania, Allegheny Front had something of an average August, but still posted strong Broad-winged Hawk results. Bake Oven Knob  had a strong August, posting more than double the number of broadwings they usually see during this month. Hawk Mountain had a banner month for Bald Eagle with 85, their best August total in at least 15 years (I didn’t check back further than that). Virtually everything that flies past their mountain did so in numbers higher and sometimes a lot higher than usual for August. Their big exception was the Northern Harrier, which had a weak August almost everywhere. Waggoner’s Gap also had a good month and was just about the only site to post harrier numbers higher than their August average.

The southerly sites, especially in Virginia, had a rough start to their seasons due to weather issues. Rockfish Gap tried to get in a count for several days before it stopped raining and the fog cleared.

In Massachusetts, which boasts a lot of sites, only Blueberry Hill attempted a count in August. In New Jersey, Wildcat and Raccoon Ridges count sporadically during August.

The number of sites that count in August is still pretty low compared with those that start in September. In August, the most sites reporting to HMANA’s HawkCount on any one day was 20, and that number will certainly double or triple starting, well, starting today. Let September begin!

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