Friday, September 30, 2011

Ah, the Broadwings!

The annual lottery of which hawkwatch site gets to see the most Broad-winged Hawks, those unpredictable birds, is over for another fall. This year provided some interesting results, with a few sites not particularly well-known for their Broad-winged Hawk flights pulling down a few big days. And on the other end of the stick, sites with often large numbers of these hawks ended up with lesser or lackluster flights. But before I get too deep into the overall picture, let’s start with a roundup of the Great Lakes sites, whose routinely large flights can make the northeastern hawkwatchers green with envy.

Hawk Ridge’s (Minnesota) big day was September 15 with 12,790 Broad-winged Hawks. A second big day was September 19 with 6881. For September they tallied 32,675, which is on their low side of average, once you eliminate 2003, when they had a record-breaking 160,537 Broadwings, a total that’s far above the normal range for the site. Their big day total seems to fall into the mid-range category, too.

Next is Holiday Beach (Ontario), with a big day on September 16 with 23,480 Broadwings and a second big day on September 15 with 10,393. For the month they totaled 42,493 Broadwings, the best result there in 10 years.

Hawk Cliff (Ontario) had a big, big day on September 16 with 49,830 Broadwings. The next day was decent, too with 14,595. The September total was 72,221, their fourth highest total, though well behind the 135,329 of September 2000.

And then there’s Lake Erie Metropark (Michigan). Please sit down now if you’re not already sitting. They tallied 190,121 broadwings on September 17, a spectacular day, their biggest broadwing flight ever, more than doubling their previous (and not at all shabby) best flight of 91,471 set in September 2002. Oddly, they didn’t have a second big day this year. Their next highest broadwing total was 2199 on September 25.

Next blog entry I’ll talk about the eastern sites and how they did with Broadwings this year.

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