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!

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