Friday, August 26, 2011

Fall Hawkwatching - August 19-25

The fourth week of August produced a couple of days of nice hawkwatching. The northern sites had two good days—August 21 and 22. Corpus Christi’s best day was August 24, when they reported 1060 Mississippi kites.

At the northern sites, a total of 85 Bald Eagles were counted on the 22nd, with Bake Oven and nearby Hawk Mountain Pennsylvania leading the way each with 16. Waggoner’s Gap wasn’t far behind with 14 counted that day. The same day also saw Hawk Mountain count 26 American Kestrels, more than half of the total 48 counted through all the sites.

When it comes to eagles, Hawk Ridge in Duluth, Minnesota, now has the daily high count of the season so far, with 23 seen on August 24, a third of the 73 total birds counted that day. Their best day of the week overall was August 22 with 170 total raptors.

Osprey counts are also trending upwards, the best day saw a total of 51 counted across 19 sites on August 22. A total of 162 Broad-winged Hawks were counted on August 21, but no one site had the bulk of that number.

More watches opened up this week, though some are not yet counting daily. Washington Monument, Maryland; Tussey Mountain, Pennsylvania; Chestnut Ridge and Franklin Mtn., both New York, and Quaker Ridge, Connecticut, are the ones that seem to be reporting daily to HawkCount this week.

Hurricane Irene will likely shut down most of the eastern sites this weekend, so any birds that fly will either move ahead of that storm or slip to the west. Perhaps the Great Lakes sites or even Allegheny Front will see some action.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fall hawkwatching - Week of August 11-18

The fall hawkwatching season is already gathering speed, picking up more sites, more raptors and more species along the way. Since last week, another four sites have started reporting data, and the first Red-shouldered Hawks, Mississippi and Swallow-tailed Kites, Merlin and Peregrine Falcons were tallied, along with both vultures.

Bald Eagles are again being counted in strong numbers, strong enough that if the trend continues, 2011 may well be another banner or record-breaking year for them. Broad-winged Hawks are also starting to be seen in double-digits this week.

Corpus Christi, Texas; Hawk Ridge, Minnesota; Bake Oven Knob, Pennsylvania, and Cadillac Mountain, Maine, are now open. The best day of the past week was Tuesday, August 16, when much of the eastern U.S. was under a nice, little high pressure system. The total number of raptors seen at the ten reporting sites that day was 207, including a total of 18 Bald Eagles and 94 Broad-winged Hawks, 50 of which were seen at Pennsylvania’s Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, currently the season’s leader in total raptors with 230.

Waggoner’s Gap, near Carlisle, Pennsylvania, has the highest eagle count with 29 seen so far this season, though Bake Oven Knob had the highest single day count with 9 on August 16.

At Corpus Christi, the kites, mostly Mississippi and Swallow-tailed, are accounting for the majority of their sightings so far. Their best day this week was their first reporting day of August 15 with 107 total raptors, of which 96 were kites.

The hawkwatching floodgates will really open on September 1, which is the starting day for the majority of hawkwatches. The weekend forecast doesn’t strike me as ideal for hawkwatching, but whenever the next cold front moves down, a nice number of raptors should come with it.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Raptor Migration Fall Season 2011 - Week 2

Is the improving weather along the east coast responsible for hawkwatch leaders wanting to get out and see what’s flying? Or is it just that they can’t wait to see a few hawks?

Whatever the motivation, six hawkwatches have already started counting for the fall season—four in Pennsylvania and one each in Maryland and Virginia. Typically, sites are not yet counting for full days and are often reporting for just 2-4 hours of the day.

So what are these “early bird” sites seeing? Waggoner’s Gap near Carlisle, Pennsylvania, has already reported on 8 count days, the most so far, with the number of hours ranging between 3-7 hours in a day. They’ve counted 11 bald eagles, exactly 25% of the total 44 birds seen. Broad-winged Hawks are also reported at 11 birds, so those two species account for half of their total. American Kestrels and Red-tailed Hawks make up most of the rest of the sightings.

Second Mountain, not far west of Hawk Mountain, has counted on 3 days of the new season so far, finding 7 birds, 3 of them Red-tailed Hawks. The other sites have all reported counts on just one day so far. Four sites reported for August 10, making it the best day of the season, both for the number of sites covered and the number of raptors seen. A total of 26 raptors were counted, of which 9 were kestrels, 6 broadwings and 4 bald eagles (all at Waggoner’s Gap).
And what will next week bring? As we start to move deeper into the season and more hawkwatches open, you can certainly bet on more hawks!

Do you have any fall migration photos you'd like to share?  If so, please send them to me at falcon07 at ptd dot net.  I'll post 1-2 a week.

Friday, August 5, 2011

First hawkwatches open!

The first fall hawkwatches of the season have opened!

Two Pennsylvania sites, Second Mountain and Waggoner’s Gap, have already posted sightings to HawkCount. Waggoner’s counted 2 Broad-winged Hawks and 3 Red-tailed Hawks on August 1. Second Mountain opened, fittingly, on August 2 and saw 2 Sharp-shinned Hawks and 1 redtail.

Be sure to bookmark this blog so you can keep up with all of the action from fall 2011. Once the new migration season gets rolling, Hawk Migration News will post a wrap-up and highlights of the current week’s best and most exciting hawkwatching news!

If you get any unusual or interesting photos while on a hawkwatch, be sure to send them to falcon07 at ptd dot net, and maybe you'll see them posted here.