Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fall Migration - September in New York

It’s seriously starting to look as though I won’t finish reporting on September’s raptor migration before the end of October. I’m sorry. I’m writing as fast as I can.

Today, we will examine the New York results for September. New York is perhaps better known as a good place for spring flights, but they have a good variety of fall flights and sites, too.

Going alphabetically I’m starting with Chestnut Ridge in Bedford. Congratulations! Chestnut Ridge set a September record in 2011 with 14,959 raptors counted. The site counted 12,915 Broad-winged Hawks and had two excellent days of 4-digit counts for that species. The best was September 17 with 9655 and the second best was the day before with 2595. Osprey, Cooper’s Hawk, Merlin and Peregrine Falcon also set September records. The American Kestrel result of 224 was in the middle of the 7 years of data.

Fire Island didn’t do as well. Despite a strong number of counting hours in 2011, the results were the second lowest of the 9-year history of data in HawkCount with just 656 raptors counted. American Kestrel numbers were abysmal at the site with just 378, also the second lowest result. The lowest result was 212 in 2003 but that year the number of hours tallied in September was about a third of those in 2011. All other species were also counted in low numbers, so this time around the kestrel’s low count doesn’t stand alone. Better luck next year!

Franklin Mountain, Oneonta, had a better than average September, if not an overall record-breaking month. Sharp-shinned Hawk did top the list for the best September ever in 23 seasons there, with 232. The previous high September sharpie count of 231 was in 2007. Merlin and Peregrine Falcon also set September records, the merlin with 22 (previous high 18 in 2003) and the big falcon with 14 (previous high 13 in 2006). The little kestrel posted an above average result.

Hook Mountain counters and watchers are no doubt beside themselves with excitement after 2011. Not only did the site post a September record, it shattered the previous record into teeny, tiny little pieces. When all was said and counted, a total of 17,595 raptors were counted, of which 16,003 were Broad-winged Hawks. The best day by more than a long, long shot was September 17 with 14,670 broadwings. What’s interesting here is that the second “best” day was September 16 with just 1072 counted. No other day even approached 100 broadwings. Other species fell into the normal range for the most part, though Merlins set a record with 37 as did Red-shouldered Hawk with 16.

Lenoir Wildlife Sanctuary in Yonkers had a slightly below average September with a total of 861 raptors counted. Still, there were compensations—an early Golden Eagle on September 16 was pretty nice, and record September counts for Black Vulture and Red-shouldered Hawk.

Marine Nature Study Area in Oceanside had a down year, despite a strong number of observation hours. Observers there counted 120 raptors, of which slightly more than half were Osprey. The site almost set a September record with Peregrine Falcon, with a count of 40; they missed tieing the record by 1 falcon.

Mount Peter in Warwick had a strong September, if not a record-breaking season. Of course, with more than 20 years of data, record-breaking months don’t come around every year. By my perusal, Mount Peter’s September 2011 was its sixth best, with 8115 raptors counted, 7360 of them Broad-winged Hawks. They had three good days of Broad-winged Hawk flights. The best was September 18 with 2170, but both September 17 and September 19 produced counts over 1000 broadwings. Peregrine Falcon set a record for the month with 11, nearly doubling the previous high of 6 recorded in several years. Kestrel and Merlin were both low, though kestrel was the worst, with the third worst September result over the site’s history.

Last, though only alphabetically, comes Summitville whose September count was also solidly above average with 2117 overall and 1824 Broad-winged Hawks. The highest count was September 16 with 528 total (505 were broadwings). The site’s second best day was a late one on September 25 with 471 total (436 broadwings). The Sharp-shinned Hawk count in September was the site’s best so far with 156; the previous best was 135.

Next: New Jersey

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fall Migration - September - Connecticut

Egad! For a small state, Connecticut has a lot of hawkwatches! Way to go, you guys! However, I’ve been forced by the length of my blog post to amend my plan of reporting on September results from both Connecticut and New York in this post. Instead, little Connecticut will stand alone this time around.

Although Boothe Memorial Park in Stratford now has just three years of September data, 2011 saw the number of hawks counted more than double last year’s previous high total. In just 35 hours of counting, 9116 hawks were tallied, of which 8513 were Broad-winged Hawks. Results for species other than Broadwings were lower than the previous years.

Botsford Hill in Bridgewater wasn’t nearly as fortunate. With a count of just 1431 raptors, their 2011 was well below average and well below their record September count of 9025 in 1993. Broadwings totaled 1245. The Sharp-shinned count was 101, slightly above average.

Chestnut Hill in Litchfield also had a down year, with just 2705 raptors tallied in September, 2623 of them Broadwings. Their record September was 2002 with 12,982 and their lowest season was the following year with just 420 birds for the month. It’s fair to say that September results at Chestnut Hill vary quite a bit from year to year!

Only one day of counting was reported at Flirt Hill in Easton this year, but the counter picked a good one. In 6 hours of counting on September 17, a record 1992 birds were tallied, of which 1951 were Broadwings. That was the highest total September count, even over the other 9 years that had a lot more hours of observation.

Johnnycake Mtn. near Burlington saw its second best September over 11 years of tallies. They had to put in a record number of hours, by a few, to reach 5385, though. They counted 5196 Broadwings during the month with the best day on September 18 with 5196. Their record September was 2005 with 6627 in about half the hours watched in 2011.

Lighthouse Point, New Haven, had a strong result in September 2011, though not a record. The count of 6448 was the best overall September since 1997, if well below the high count of 19,397 in 1986. The count needed both the Broad-winged Hawk and the Sharp-shinned Hawk tallies to reach that total. The Peregrine Falcon flight for September set a record, with 74, besting last year’s 61. Other species didn’t fare as well, and the kestrel count was a low one at 279. The kestrel flight reached a high of 2597 in 1993. The site has had lower kestrel counts, though most of those were during years with a lot fewer counting hours for the month.

Torrington’s Middle School had something of an average September with 2488 Broadwings and a total of 2643 raptors during the month. Other species were counted in lower numbers, too, though the hours spent counting was similar to previous years. Their best year was 2002 with 11,024.

Just 32.5 hours were posted this year to HawkCount from Poquonock (at least so far), and just 53 raptors were counted.

Quaker Ridge had a solid result in September 2011 with 10,605 raptors counted, of which 8343 were Broad-winged Hawks. They didn’t come close to their record September (and may never do so again) when they counted 42,608 in 1986. Kestrels had a low result with 186; only years with fewer hours of site coverage produced lower results for the little falcon.

Suffield Wildlife Management Area posted results for the first time in September 2011 and came up with 2022 raptors for the month in 28.5 hours of counting. The total included 1955 Broad-winged Hawks, of which 1893 flew on September 17.

And lastly, though only in an alphabetical list, comes White Memorial Foundation in Litchfield. They counted on just 4 days in 2011 and tallied 412 raptors, of which 354 were Broad-winged Hawks. Their best count was a total of 259 on September 16.

Next time I’ll post September results for New York, and if the post doesn’t run too long, I’ll at least start on the New Jersey results, too.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fall Hawkwatching - September in northern New England

It’s taken me (a lot) longer than I expected and has proved more time-consuming than I anticipated, but I am finally moving ahead with the September 2011 hawk migration roundup. In order to do it any kind of justice at all, the eastern sites will be broken up into several blog posts. Today the roundup will include New Brunswick and northern New England.

First, Greenlaw Mountain in New Brunswick has reason to be well thrilled with its September flight. September 2011 proved to be the best of their three years of counting, led by 5818 Broad-winged Hawks. Their big day was September 17 with 3311. With essentially the same number of counting hours, nearly all other species were also at record or near-record levels. The exception was the Merlin, with the lowest count of the three years.

Then we move into Maine, and the good news continues there, too. Cadillac Mountain posted its best-ever September results in the 9 years of data in HawkCount. Their broadwing count shattered their previous best, with 3262. No other year has even approached 1000 for the month. Their best day was September 17 with 3014. Most other species showed in the average range, with the exception of American Kestrel, which posted the second lowest result.

Next is New Hampshire and good news is still the order of the day. In its third year of counting, Carter Hill Observatory near Concord shattered its previous best September with a total of 11,330 raptors counted during the month. Of those, 10,622 were broadwings (previous best count was 1899). This site’s best broadwing day was September 18 with 7212, and September 19 was the second best with 1747. Other species breaking site records for September were Merlin, American Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Bald Eagle, Osprey and Cooper’s Hawk (though this last only by 1 bird).

The cheering continues at Pack Monadnock, Peterborough, with yet another record-setting broadwing flight and another monthly record. A record 11,822 broadwings were counted for the month, with the best day September 18 with 5208 and a second best day of 3544 on September 17. Those totals boosted the monthly count of all raptors to 13,235, besting the previous record—September 2007’s 9342. The only species with somewhat lower results in 2011 was the Bald Eagle, which was the fourth lowest total for the month.

Moving into Vermont, Putney Mountain posted its second best September with 4928, behind only 2003’s 5457. The Broad-winged Hawk flight was the third highest with 4009, just missing being the second highest total by 9 birds. Most other species were counted in higher than average numbers, with nothing counted in below average numbers.

Massachusetts will be the last state I report on today. In alphabetical order, the first is Barre Falls, posting its second best September over the 10 years of data with 6656 total and 5884 broadwings. The site’s best day was September 17 with 4411 broadwings. They aren’t likely to best the September 2005 record of 17,468 anytime soon. Sharp-shinned Hawks and American Kestrels had lower than average numbers. The rest of the species had solid results.

Blueberry Hill is next and that site’s September results were right in the middle of its 12 years of data in HawkCount. The total broadwing count for the month was 3334 with a best day of 1130 on September 17. The next day was the second best with 988. Their best September ever was in 2002 with 7739 total and 6777 broadwings. Osprey and Peregrine Falcon set September records, both by strong margins.

Mt. Wachusetts posted low results for the September. Only two years out of their 10 years of data in HawkCount had lower results. The site posted lower hours for 2011, too, which likely contributed. The best broadwing day was 1600 on September 17, a far cry from the record-setting 12,117 in September 2002. One high point was the count of 4 Black Vultures, the first September to see any result for that species.

Mt. Watatic also had a disappointing total in 2011, posting its second lowest total in 10 years. Broadwings totaled 3195, with a best day of 1494 on September 10 and just 1139 on September 17, its second best day. Hours were about half what is typical for this site.

Shatterack Mountain had the lowest total in 7 years and the lowest number of hours, as well. In 2011 counters saw 1222 broadwings, the second lowest result. The site’s best day by far was September 18 with 718 broadwings.

In the next report I’ll cover Connecticut, New York and possibly New Jersey, depending on how long the post is by the time I reach that last state. Good hawkwatching!