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

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