Monday, October 5, 2015

Raptor and non-raptor count summaries September 27th- October 5th 2015

In the last blog updated through September 26th, I mentioned that once the fog cleared, we would have a good flight, and that was certainly the case, since on September 27th we had another massive non-raptor migration that included a total of 37,051 birds, which ranks about the fifth largest flight I have seen here. There were multiple groups of birds migrating at the same time in large numbers, and using different flight lines, so it was impossible for one observer to focus on everything at the same time. Highlights of the day included 437 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers (new state high count), 733 Golden-crowned Kinglets (new state high count), 125 Ruby-crowned Kinglets (highest fall count), and 28,227 American Robins (fourth highest count). There was a similar echo flight of the same species on September 28th, totaling 6670 birds, but non-raptor flights have been much slower since that time, primarily because the five day stretch from September 30th- October 4th was predominantly east winds. The afternoons on many of these days were particularly brutal, with sustained east winds in excess of 30 mph! Fortunately this pattern of easterly winds was broken on October 5th, and it looks like tomorrow (October 6th) will be our first west winds in many days. The non-raptor total is now over 310,000 birds, which is already the second best season ever, with no doubt many additional birds still to come.

We have now counted nearly 60,000 raptors, which is above the recent average. The last push of Broad-wings on September 28-29th put us at 40,758 for the season, which is the best Broad-wing flight I have seen here in nine years of counting. We also have had good Peregrine flights the last week, including a peak count of 17 on September 27th, and the total so far for the season is 135, which is the second best season ever. Although Northern Goshawks were generally absent during the beginning of the season, we have seen small numbers recently, including 6 on September 29th. The first Golden Eagle came by on October 1st, and no doubt the first Rough-leg will be seen any day now, probably tomorrow. Numbers of Red-tailed Hawks are increasing, so the next few weeks should be an exciting time at the Ridge!

Golden-crowned Kinglet in flight. The mass migration on September 28th included a shocking number of kinglets, more than I thought was possible in one day, and many more than any previous count. The totals for the day included 733 Golden-crowned Kinglets, 125 Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and 585 unidentified kinglets, for a total of 1443 kinglets! These little guys move through so quickly, it is difficult to identify a high proportion of them. I was amazed last year when we counted 1089 kinglets for the entire season, including a new high count of 262 Golden-crowned Kinglets on 7 October 2014, but the flight on 28 September 2015 was more than the entire season last year! 

A Golden-crowned Kinglet pausing briefly during its migration, showing off its golden crown in the morning sun. Migrating kinglets often stop so briefly in the trees there isn't time to get binoculars on them, but luckily the Golden-crowed Kinglets call frequently as they move through the treetops, and on September 28th their piercing trebled notes were nearly continuous for over five hours! 

Ruby-crowned Kinglet in flight on September 28th when a total of 125 were counted, which is the highest fall count and second highest count overall for Minnesota. Some of the migrating kinglets have been spotted high overhead, which is kind of amazing since they are usually seen low through the tree tops, and don't seem like very strong fliers.

Immature Yellow-bellied Sapsucker flipping nearly upside down as it migrates by, perhaps to show off its yellow belly! On September 28th we counted 437 migrating sapsuckers, though most of them were right side up. There were an amazing number of sapsuckers in the air that day, including loose flocks of up to seven birds, and they continued moving throughout the day. As with the kinglets, this is more than I thought were possible in one day. A week previously, on September 22nd, we had counted 278 sapsuckers, which was a new high count at the time, This compares to the previous high count of 135 at Park Point by several observers on 23 September 2009, and 98 counted at Hawk Ridge/Lester River on 28 September 2014.

Adult male Sharp-shinned Hawk migrating by Hawk Ridge. The majority of sharpies passing by the Ridge are now adults. Nearly 13,000 Sharpies have been counted this season, which is above average.

Adult male American Kestrel in morning light. Only 1100 American Kestrels have been counted this season, which is well below average.
Karl Bardon
Count Director
Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory

No comments:

Post a Comment