Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Count summary November 17-30th

Hawk Ridge count summary November 17-30th

The end of the season was quite slow, with numbers of most raptors and non-raptors trailing off to virtually zero the last few days. Sadly, there wasn’t any final push of eagles or Rough-legs, and the finches that had been so abundant tapered off the last week. In some years, migration continues well into December, but this year it seems most birds have already moved through. Of course, with very little snow on the ground, there are still Rough-legs to our north, and the chance that more will move through. The raptor count of 59,781 is about average for the last ten years, while the non-raptor count of 357540 is the highest count to date. I will post a more in-depth season summary, but for now would like to thank everyone who helped with the Hawk Ridge count, especially my able-bodied co-counter Steve Kolbe, and indefatigable volunteer counter Dave Carman.

Adult Bald Eagle gracing the Hawk Ridge sky. It easy to grow numb to these grand birds when you see tens of thousands over the years, but I think this photo shows just how gorgeous they can be. This fall's count of 5032 Bald Eagles is the second highest season count to date, but there was no sharp peak at the end of the season as there often is, and the numbers were just spread out throughout the season. For unknown reasons, this seems to be a recent developing pattern.
Common Raven stooping at the owl decoy at Hawk Ridge. This was one of 209 counted on November 20th, which was an amazing day for ravens, as gang after gang moved along the ridge, often stopping to heckle the owl. This count is not only the highest for Hawk Ridge, but also apparently the whole state. This culminates an exceptional season for ravens, with a grand total of 2337 counted for the season, which is the highest season to date by a wide margin. Why so many ravens this year? And where are they going?

Snowy Owl trapped at the main banding station on November 21st and released at the main overlook. Thank you Hawk Ridge banders!
Snowy Owl taking flight! This was the second Snowy Owl recorded at Hawk Ridge this fall, with another seen migrating over the Ridge on October 31st. 
Karl Bardon
Count Director
Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory

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