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Artwork depicting Young storks and parent - Baghdad, Iraq. Fledgling storks - Baghdad, Iraq. We journeyed through the country exploring the Central foothills and highlands, Caribbean lowlands and the Pacific slope. Overall our group saw or heard an amazing species of birds. Among those were 31 species of raptors, 26 hummingbirds, 21 antbirds, 35 flycatchers, 29 warblers and 30 tanager species. It was 10 glorious days of colorful birds, beautiful rainforest and coastal landscapes, good coffee and lots of fruit.
This has always been a very special place to me. From my first season spent counting there in , and then again when I returned to do peregrine falcon research in , I have been itching to get back. And as always, it was just as magical as ever and did not let us down.
The hike up to the watchsite involved a lot of mud, sweat and thorns. We wove our way up the mountain through an abandoned cacao plantation, stopping of course to sample the sweet and tangy fruit along the way. Black and green poison dart frogs hopped across the trail and laughing falcons called from the canopy.
I could spend all day on this 2km long trail, studying leaf cutter ants, the towering strangler fig trees and the huge diversity of understory species like antbirds, tinamous and hermits hummingbirds. Looking up at any one time, we saw glimpses of swirling kettles through the canopy, reminding us of what was in store and to pick up the pace. For the next few hours, I counted over peregrines passing overhead. Some scattered over the ocean, others kettling up over the mountains in groups of Turkey vultures were the dominant migrant during our visit but mixed in were thousands of broad-wings and Swainsons hawks with the occasional Mississippi Kite, osprey or merlin.
Aside from raptors, chimney swifts and various swallow species swept past in the millions. By the end of the day, 70, raptors had been tallied. The two to three volunteer counters this season are overworked and overwhelmed by the volume of birds coming through. This site requires a team of at least counters to effectively cover the skies.
It was great to see people eager to share their thoughts and ideas on how to build upon this important project with outreach and fundraising strategies. Hopefully one way we can continue to offer support is through more tours like this one! Labels: Kekoldi , Raptors. One of the differences between general birding and birding at a hawk watch is that at a hawk watch the salient feature of the birds we see is their flight.
More often than not in general birding we look at birds sitting on the water or wading in it, perching on twigs, or walking on the ground, or jumping from one thing to another. At hawk watches we look at flight. The focus on flight at a hawk watch encourages us to pay attention to a dimension of birding, and birds, that, strangely enough, often gets short shrift. Years ago, I thought I was pretty good at identifying ducks in the harbor until I met an old retired duck hunter who could actually tell what birds he was seeing in flight!
Birding at a hawk watch encourages us to increase our skills in that direction and also our appreciation of the birds we observe. But my most memorable sighting of an American Bittern was at the hawk watch when I had a chance to watch one fly for over a mile in migration with its distinctively patterned two-toned wings and ponderous flight. Somehow, seeing that very secretive bird so exposed and taking part in such a dangerous activity as migration was very moving. In my last blog I talked about finding loons when scanning for soaring raptors. This is another exciting feature about hawk watches.
Scanning for raptors we find things we never would have seen otherwise. Now, at our hawk watch in western New York, I see Sandhill Cranes on at least five or six different days during the spring migration. Paying attention to the non-raptor migration at hawk watches expands the profound experience presented by observing the raptor migration. After nearly 50 years of general birding in western New York State, I began seeing Common Loons regularly only after I began spending time at our local hawk watch.
Not only did I begin seeing loons regularly, but I began seeing them in pretty much a new way. Loons for me had been early- and late-winter harbor birds, infrequently seen, usually apart from the rafts of relatively diminutive ducks, looking big and solitary. Seeing a loon always made a special birding day for me.
Attendance at our hawk watch introduced me to a new dimension of loons and the likelihood of seeing them often. Previously I saw loons usually swimming and diving, only now and then flying; when I see them at the hawk watch they are always flying. And what flight! Powerful, high, fast, straight-line, totally lacking in hesitation, directly out and over Lake Erie toward Canada. At the hawk watch we pick up loons while scanning with binoculars for soaring raptors. On April 19th this year we saw 12 loons, most of them singles, presenting their unique flight signature as they powered toward their northern nesting territory.
We saw loons on at least three other days in the spring of They could have been flying, unobserved, for hundreds of miles before we picked them up. Hawk watches provide unique opportunities for observing non-raptor migration, loon-sightings being only one example. Thursday, October 14, Time to step up to the bat!
Sunday, October 10, Migration in the Americas: the ties that bind. No hawkwatcher needs an explanation of what that means. Enchanted, yes. Exhilarated, definitely! But not surprised. What did surprise me, however, were the butterflies. No, not monarchs. No, the butterflies that so amazed me were yellow. They were sulphurs of several species, large and small, and they were migrating!
The air was filled with them, hundreds of thousands, nay, millions of southbound fragile beings stirring the air as their forebears have been doing for millennia. From just above the ground to at least 10 meters up, and nearly wingtip to wingtip as far as the eye could see in every direction, they went. Such a density is, of course, vulnerable to incursion, and so it was on the highways as the intrepid voyagers fell victim to trucks and buses and cars. Resembling flower petals liberally strewn on the highway, drifts of body-less wings swirled in yellow clouds among the passing vehicles.
Later, standing on the remains of a pyramid in the Toltec ruins of Cempoala, I pondered those streams of birds overhead. Stretching from horizon to horizon hawks and vultures, pelicans and storks became threads tying together the continents north and south. And in a nearly tactile way so did the gentle yellow ephemera filling the surroundings with soft flutterings. A visible physical connection, yes, and how very evident it was. But there was a temporal component as well, for as I stood there on those ancient stones I experienced a powerful connection to those people who had built this temple.
I realized that these very same astonishing sights had moved them, too. HMANA needs your help. With your help RPI will continue to conduct research into raptor population trends that can be critical to continent-wide conservation efforts. You can donate on line at www. HMANA is a c 3 non-profit organization, so your donation is fully tax-deductible. This invaluable raptor monitoring site, located in the Florida Keys, has been a terrific presence and a very important site for the Southeast Region for the past 10 years.
The watchsite was established inside Curry Hammock State Park in Marathon because the middle Florida Keys is a major bottleneck during fall migration. Beginning in , the site began monitoring 8 different species of raptors and has counted the highest number of peregrine falcons in the country. When financial support for the project ran dry in , efforts were abandoned and no count was conducted in We decided to coordinate the count and hire an all volunteer team this year while we exploring possible plans for the future.
Ideally, HMANA would like to see a local organization coordinate the count and sustain it for the long term. Currently, there are 6 counters from all over the United States keeping the Curry Hammock count afloat this fall. The count will run from September October 31 and is open to the public.
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All are welcome! And if you have any interest in helping out with the count, please contact Julie Tilden at tilden hmana. We can always use more help! The first week of September is already over. September 1 brought a large group of hawkwatches opening their vistas for fall hawkwatching. So now that the first week is over, how is migration faring? Not bad is my answer for today. Only a handful of hawkwatches have reported triple digit results so far and none north of Mexico have yet posted four-digit results. Sharp-shinned hawk totals there were nearly double the number of Broad-winged hawk, with sharpies to broadwings.
Radar showed what looks like a good overnight flight of songbirds on September , so that brings me some hope for an uptick in raptor numbers over the next day or so. HawkCount results from the past week look as though nearly all the hawkwatches are getting a piece of whatever is flying. Bald eagle numbers are good, and the coastal sites are seeing some nice numbers of osprey.
To my eye, broad-winged hawk numbers seem low, though perhaps the birds are simply waiting for that perfect weather to take to the air.
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Northern Harrier counts are also rather low so far. Next week should tell the tale. Stay tuned for that!
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Labels: , Fall hawk migration. Today was one of those days, still a bit early in the fall migration season to worry what you might be missing, and yet, that familiar tug on my psyche was there, urging me to grab my binoculars and heavily-laden backpack and climb that hill that has been such a big part of my life for more than 30 years.
You can go to other hills, other lookouts. You can go for however long or brief a spell you wish. Who will try to inspire those folks that climb the trail to see a beautiful view, and might have fallen under the spell of hawk migration were there someone there to show them? Not me. No longer. My tenure has faded away, but strong remains my connection: feeling that tug in the autumn sky, my heart rising to meet it. Posted by Susan Fogleman at AM 1 comment:. Labels: biorhythm , eyestrain , flying ants , UV.
August proved to be a good start to the fall raptor migration season at a majority of the sites that count this early, buoyed by strong early flights of Broad-winged Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks and, to a lesser extent, Sharp-shinned Hawks. Kestrels put in an extra-good show on the last day of August at Greenlaw Mtn. Lighthouse Pt. To give you an idea of how good that number is, their year August average for kestrels is 5. Cadillac Mtn. Franklin Mtn. Hawk Ridge in Duluth had nothing like the large August numbers they had last year, but with over birds for the month, their results were still pretty good.
In Pennsylvania, Allegheny Front had something of an average August, but still posted strong Broad-winged Hawk results. Virtually everything that flies past their mountain did so in numbers higher and sometimes a lot higher than usual for August. Their big exception was the Northern Harrier, which had a weak August almost everywhere. The southerly sites, especially in Virginia, had a rough start to their seasons due to weather issues. Rockfish Gap tried to get in a count for several days before it stopped raining and the fog cleared. In Massachusetts, which boasts a lot of sites, only Blueberry Hill attempted a count in August.
The number of sites that count in August is still pretty low compared with those that start in September. Let September begin! Labels: , August , Fall hawk migration. Wednesday, August 25, Fall migration report - late August. More hawkwatches are opening almost every day now, and the hawkwatching is improving just as fast.
Corpus Christi in south Texas already has had at least one banner day when 1, Mississippi Kites headed south. Counters reported several kettles of more than kites at a time on August 16, though with a temperature of in the shade, that might not count as fall hawkwatching. In the eastern U. One thing that can be said for rain is that hawkwatching the day after it is usually pretty good! The best days so far this season were August , when Hawk Mountain was the first site north of Corpus Christi to post more than raptors. They counted on the 20th and just missed that mark the next day with On the 20th their count included 14 Bald Eagles and 17 Osprey.
In non-hawk sightings, a few red-breasted nuthatches have already been reported, and a few south-bound ravens as well. Warblers are moving in fairly good numbers as well, at least when you consider it's still August. Overall, migration seems a tad ahead of schedule for this point in the month, even with the days lost to rain and fog.
In another week, September 1 will be here and most hawkwatches will be up and running and in full swing. Here in the mid-Atlantic, the weather will clear for tomorrow Thursday and bring a nice northwest wind. It just might be a good day to play hooky. Labels: Fall hawk migration. Monday, August 16, Fall hawkwatching is heating up! The floodgates of hawkwatches for the fall season are starting to open!
A total of 8 hawkwatches reported sightings yesterday Sunday. So how do these early season results look so far? August 14 was their best day so far and brought 10 Bald eagles, including 5 in one kettle. Derby Hill, near Mexico, NY, counted for the first time August 14 and their count of currently tops the list for the most raptors seen on one day in this fledgling fall season. Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, took honors of a different kind on August 14 with the first marriage proposal and acceptance of the new hawkwatching season.
Congratulations go to Jason Book and Ashley Harris. Stay tuned! Those hawkwatching floodgates will open wide on September 1! Labels: August , Fall hawk migration.