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.

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