Monday, September 8, 2014

Raptor and non-raptor count summaries September 1-7, 2014

Hello Hawk Ridge Blog readers! My name is Steve Kolbe, and I am thrilled to be the assistant counter at Hawk Ridge this season. I have enjoyed my first week a great deal and have met some of the many wonderful volunteers and visitors that spend time on the ridge each fall. I am looking forward to meeting many more in the coming months!

Male American Kestrel
The first week of September brought 1842 raptors of 13 species with a peak flight of 654 on the 6th. As expected, Sharp-shinned Hawks and Bald Eagles have dominated numbers-wise. An immature dark Swainson's Hawk that soared briefly over the ridge before heading inland on 6 September was the week's major highlight.

We suspect that the raptor flight is a tad behind schedule due to the lack of cold weather, although the last few days suggest birds are on their way in bigger numbers. In addition, upcoming weather at the end of this week should help move things along, perhaps in a big way.

Continuing the trend from August, morning songbird flights have been very good in the first week of September. In fact, three of the days in the last seven have produced counts of over 1000 individual warblers (including back-to-back large flights on 6 and 7 September)! Warbler species composition is starting to shift from being dominated by Nashville Warblers to American Redstarts. A large Cedar Waxwing flight has not materialized, which leaves us to wonder if it is yet to come. Time will tell.

Nashville Warblers. Note the short tail, gray hood, yellow belly, and pale eye ring.

American Redstart. Juveniles and adult females can look gray-hooded much like Nashville Warblers, but note the long club-shaped tail and yellow base of tail and wings, features that are visible even in poor light. The two species also have distinctly different flight calls.
Other non-raptors that moved in good numbers during the first week of September included Canada Geese and Blue Jays. A flight of 1195 Canada Gees occurred on 5 September and 1786 Blue Jays were tallied on 6 September. Two Red-headed Woodpeckers, rare in Duluth, were counted on 6 September.

One or two more flights of neotropical migrants seem likely, but each day moves us closer to non-raptor flights that consist of migrants with wintering destinations much closer to Minnesota. In addition to Blue Jays, species just starting to move this week included Pine Siskins, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Palm and Yellow-rumped Warblers.

Below are a few pictorial highlights from this week!

Red-breasted Nuthatch
Something you don't see every day: Swainson's Thrush overhead! Note the bold wing stripe, a feature shared by many thrushes (and all members of the genus Catharus), and buffy spectacles. 
An American Crow with white in the wings has been seen flying over the ridge a number of times recently "commuting" to and from Duluth. Not to be confused with...
...Pileated Woodpecker (male)! 
Northern Harrier coming this way!
Time to head up to Hawk Ridge and enjoy the fall migration! Hope to see you there soon.

Assistant Migration Counter

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