Since this is my first blog post of the fall, I will summarize the season to date, which began on August 15th. In the future, these will be weekly updates of both the raptor counts and the non-raptor counts.
This has been an amazing season already, with a grand total of 79,825 non-raptors counted since August 15t, which is a much higher total than normal for this date, mostly due to an incredible August flight of 42,916 Common Nighthawks, with 30,874 being seen just on August 21st (which is the second-highest state count ever). The second most common migrant has been Cedar Waxwings, with 25,383 counted so far, including over 6,000 waxwings seen on two dates in a row August 20-21st. Red-winged Blackbirds are mostly early migrants, so the total of 2748 counted so far may be most of this season’s total. Some of the highlights so far this fall have been both an Upland Sandpiper and a Greater White-fronted Goose on September 5th (both unusual for Duluth), a single flock of 156 American White Pelicans swirling in unison on September 3rd (certainly the largest flock I have seen in Duluth), and a single flock of 56 Red-necked Phalaropes landing on a completely calm Lake Superior on August 20th (also an unusual number for Duluth). Warbler migration has been sporadic, with only a couple really good days, and only 2512 counted for the season.
The August total of 1201 raptors is perhaps a little above average, which is surprising since most of August was very warm with often strong southerly winds, making for some pretty warm counting conditions! (heat indexes up to 100 degrees). But the good news about all those southerly winds is that they occurred during the peak Mississippi Kite migration to our south, which was no doubt responsible for bringing us Mississippi Kites on both August 27th and September 4th. A strong cold front on September 1st-2nd finally brought relief from the heat, and increased the daily counts to 213 and 376 raptors, mostly Sharpies. Somewhat surprisingly, Bald Eagles have been putting on a strong early push the last few days despite the rebound to warmer temperatures, with Bald Eagles being the most common raptor for three days in a row September 4-6th. Presumably these are Bald Eagles of the southern race, returning from their summer spent “up at the lake."
|Cedar Waxwing at Hawk Ridge|
|Common Nighthawk over Hawk Ridge|