Friday, August 3, 2012

Kittatinny Roundtable

John Reed from Picatinny Peak NJ holds aloft the "coveted" blinking eagle award as Gene Wagner from Waggoner's Gap PA looks on
For some years now, Hawk Mountain Sanctuaryhas hosted an annual Kittatinny Roundtable, which gathers watchsite compilers from Pennsylvania and New Jersey to discuss the previous year’s raptor migration results. The day-long event is a good way for hawk people to get together and talk about hawks in the off-season. A good-natured rivalry about who had the “big day” this past year is always part of the mix, too.

And it’s not just talk about the numbers, either, as attendees always get to hear a presentation about some interesting point of research. This year, Nick Bolgiano presented about changes in Red-tailed Hawk migration and the declines in migration results for the species at many hawkwatches. He used data from HawkCount, Christmas Bird Counts, Breeding Bird Surveys and banding results to show how all the data sources confirm Redtails are staying further to the north than previously and are often wintering over. He was able to track this northward wintering through many years of data and show how it has progressed ever northward decade by decade.

Hawk Mountain will be recording migrants with and without crops this fall and asked that other sites along ridge consider doing the same. Counters will decide “crop” or “no crop” for every bird that passes close enough to see a crop. The plan is to use evidence of raptor feeding as an index to the health of the habitat along the ridge that might be impacting birds’ feeding. Contact Laurie Goodrich at goodrich at Hawkmtn dot org if you’d like more details for your own site.

In looking at the spring 2012 results from the ten sites that attended, some interesting details emerged. Allegheny Front PA recorded its highest Northern Goshawk count in 12 years of counting this past spring. Tussey Mountain recorded 212 Golden Eagles, its second highest total.

The totals from fall 2011 also contained some nuggets. For the second year, Waggoner’s Gap PA tallied the most eagles seen in the region, a total of 700, 230 of them were Golden Eagles and 470 were Bald Eagles. Allegheny Front recorded the highest total of Golden Eagles with 279. Picatinny Peak NJ had the biggest Broad-winged Hawk day with 6201 on September 17, but Scott’s Mountain, NJ, had the most for the season, with 14,227.

November 2011 turned out to have disappointing results for nearly all the sites, primarily because the day after the big eastern snowstorm in October produced record migration days on October 30 and 31. The group felt that big weather system pulled birds into October that normally would migrate in early November.

Predictions for this fall? Speculation is that it might be a good year for Ospreys, based on the number of young seen at nesting sites. Also, the country-wide, ongoing drought might push birds to head south earlier than is typical. Whatever the results, you can be sure these counters won’t miss any of the action!

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