Monday, July 27, 2015

Report from Kittatinny Roundtable

Laurie Goodrich hosting the Kittatinny Roundtable at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
The annual Kittatinny Roundtable for hawkwatch coordinators is always great fun, and this year was no exception. Hosted by Hawk Mountain Sanctuary for nearly 40 years now, the summertime event is a chance for hawk site coordinators in southern Pennsylvania, upper Maryland and New Jersey to get together in the off season to discuss raptor migrations from the previous year.

The event includes a roundup of the previous year’s migration results and timing, as well as several presentations from researchers about their current work.  This year we heard from Jean-Francois (J.F.) Therrien about Project Snowstorm and some of the conditions that led to the big irruption of snowy owls last winter.  Nick Bolgiano reported on his study of the geographic changes in the distribution of the American Kestrel. The kestrel is declining in much of the northeast, but is stable in the Midwest and, at least for the moment, in Pennsylvania. He also found a direct correlation between cold and snowy winters and lower kestrel populations the following year.  Holly Merker described the advantages of using a group or hawkwatch site account to enter sightings through HawkCount and eBird.  Jack’s Mountain reported on a record-breaking Golden Eagle flight in three hours on October 31. They tallied the first eagle at 12:55, saw several kettles of 5-7 eagles during the afternoon and ended the day with 56 Golden Eagles, which smashed the old record of 31.

The meeting’s organizer Laurie Goodrich reported on Hawk Mountain’s Broad-winged Hawk migration tracking. The Broad-winged Hawk tracking project just completed its first year but already has produced some new information.  Four broadwings were fitted with radio transmitters, an adult female and three fledglings.  The fledglings made it down into Mexico and central America but apparently did not survive to travel further.  The female bird, dubbed Abbo, made it into Brazil for the winter, where she was already starting to float around in a constantly northerly direction by mid-January.  Her flight paths to the south and returning to Pennsylvania this spring were nearly identical. This year four more female birds are or will be trapped to see where they go and when.  Female birds are used as they are larger, and the tracking devices are still too large for the smaller male birds.

Most of the sites attending this session had poor Broad-winged Hawk flights in 2014, though Scott’s Mountain in New Jersey could boast 11,208 for the season.  Kestrel flights were both up and down but probably averaged out to be about the same overall. Golden Eagle flights were strong, with Waggoner’s Gap the leader at 241.  Overall, that flight had two big days at most sites on October 26 and November 2.

Laurie believes the Kittatinny Roundtable is the only regional get-together of its kind.  It would be nice to see similar events in other regions, especially around the Great Lakes and the far northeast.

No comments:

Post a Comment