Wind (current)

Sept 1 A Decent Start To The Month 21 Birds...YTD-266

Today the winds were a little better than expected. Leon, Ann, Donna, Carol, Allison, Patty, Phil and son Josh,  Mike 2, Walter and I watched and hoped for the best. The highlight of the day occured early in the watch today, as a Redtailed Hawk popped up almost right infront of us. As you can see by Ann's photos the juvenile Redtail flew right towards us, before landing in the Maple tree which we so often take cover in the shade of. Thanks to Ann for the inflight shots. The perched shot is my own.
A Peregrine Falcon juvenile that went by at close range and a few close Osprey were other highlights. Ann Brokelman sent along this beautiful shot of the Osprey.
Todays final total of 21 raptors consisted of:
15-Sharpshinned Hawks
1-Redtailed Hawk
2-Peregrine Falcons

(local adult Coopers)
We saw a local Merlin,Kestrel and Coopers Hawk today also. Only a couple of the very large Air Show planes came near the park, pre-2pm before we left. Keep an eye on the weather of Wed/Thurs/Fri. One or all of them could be fairly decent days. Sharpshinned Hawks were seen in pairs today. They are usually siblings. If you see one Sharpie start to circle, be sure look around as often they are waiting for their brother or sister. If it is in straight flight when you first see it, look ahead and behind it to see if their sibling is leading or trailing them(psst sometimes there are even 3).

End of August Summary....245 Raptors

August of 2012 was a great month, eventually. Things started off very slowly and ended well. We had our 2nd best August count of raptors ever, narrowly missing our best ever total of 250.
  The 245 raptors consisted of
3-Turkey Vultures
10-Bald Eagles
20-Northern Harriers
43-Sharpshinned Hawks
1-Coopers Hawk
12-Broadwinged Hawks
14-Redtailed Hawks
96-American Kestrels
1--Peregrine Falcon

Many thanks to Walter, Terry, Phil, Betty, Ann, Carol, Berle, Peter, Paul, Colin and Marguarite, plus the many more who helped out and came out in August to get the raptor watch off to such a good start. Sept 1 report will follow this evening.

32 Birds..2 Shifts...YTD-245

Thanks to Pete and Mike 2, we had a much better count than we otherwise would have. Walter and I bailed at around 1pm and went with Phil to chase a rare bird. We failed to see it. By that time Walter and I had seen only 6 birds.
  Mike 2 and Peter must have arrived very shortly after Walter, Phil and I left. From 1pm-4pm They saw another 26 birds!! Their help left us just 6 birds short of a new monthly record for total raptors

All totalled both shifts saw:
1-Northern Harrier
24-Sharpshined Hawks
4 American Kestrels
32 Total Raptors

 A summary of the monthly totals will be posted tomorrow.

6 More Birds...Tomorrow Crazy Hot and Humid

Not unexpectedly today was slow. Winds changed and birds waited or simply went by north of us. Ann reported seeing several birds moving and she was at work further north of the park.
 Walter and I saw only 6 birds today,
5-Sharpshinned Hawks

Of note we saw a Caspian Tern and at least 100 migrating Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.

While I will be at the park tomorrow, its likely I will leave by 1pm. The humidity despite a reasonable West wind will probably be too much for both birds and birders. Things are looking like they will remain slow until 5th September at least.

Watch The Weather

Remember gang,any predictions I make are subject to change, as per the weather. This morning Saturdays forecast or "mis-cast" as Colin likes to call it,has changed and winds are no longer from the north but the east. I will of course be present anyway, but those coming from distances should think twice. Friday looks reasonable. Long term shows Sept 5th. as a potential good day..lets hope for the best.

8 Bald Eagles! 42 Raptors ...YTD-207

Today we hoped to see an upflight. That means we were hoping to see a number of birds today, that almost made it here yesterday. They overnighted nearish Rosetta and in the morning set off despite the fact that conditions were less than perfect.
The day began with a beautiful sunrise...again. At 647am we had our first Osprey of the day. As Paul, Theresa, Phil, Colin, Lee, Betty, Allison, and Carol joined Walter and I, the fun got started. By the end of the day we were thrilled to have seen 8 Bald Eagles. Betty spotted 3 of them first...she is really increasing the expectations on her now! Phil spotted several of them and Allison got on a few of the Eagles first too. Colin spotted one as well. I decided to give my little camera a workout and it pulled in a high adult Bald Eagle pretty well, distance excepted.

We had a good mix of raptors again today,spotting 8 countable species plus a couple of local Turkey Vultures. We spotted a few Common Loons. During lulls Yellow-rumped Warbler, Northern Parula and Red-eyed Vireo were seen too. A Mocking Bird sat co-operatively in a tree top.
The final totals today were:
8-Bald Eagles (4 adults at 10:45, 11:02, 2 @ 12:42 and 3 juveniles @ 11:04,12:20,12:55 and an Immature(possibly 2nd year) @ 11:25)
2-Northern Harriers
6-Sharpshinned Hawks
2-Broadwinged Hawks
1-Redtailed Hawk
15-American Kestrels
42-Total Raptors
Many of the birds were very very high and tough to spot in the blue sky. Much thanks to everyone for their contributions today. It was a great team effort to spot the birds.
Friday and Saturday both look like there could be a decent flight of raptors, with Saturday looking to be the more promising of the 2 days so far. Watch to see if the North wind that day holds up. Today brought us to our 2nd best August total ever. Our best season was 250 raptors, todays 42 gave us 207 this August with 2 days left. It seems unlikely but not impossible that we will surpass the top August count ever.

Record August Day!! 120 Raptors...YTD-165

And so begins another day at the Rosetta McClain Gardens Raptor Watch. I arrived pre-sunrise expecting a reasonably good count. I was not to be disappointed.
Walter, Phil, Ann,Betty, Gunnar, Berle, Carol, Paul, Allison, Colin, Peter, Margaurite, Terry and I gathered with great expectations. I dont think anyone went home disappointed. Throw in Pizza Day and a good time was almost guarenteed.  Things started abit slowly, but small flurries of birds started to add up.           
There were some very exciting moments. We saw a Northern Harrier and a Peregrine Falcon both at the same time. The Peregrine made a failed pass at something on the water, but on its second attempt, plucked some unknown prey from the water. I suspect it had knocked down an unseen bird and went back to claim its prize.  We saw a Sharp-shinned Hawk and an American Kestrel flying together.(these photos will be used in a separate post to compare and contrast the Sharp-shinned Hawk and American Kestrel)  They had a brief run at one another, adding to the day's thrills. A handful of close Broadwinged Hawks is always wonderful to see. Several Osprey went by,although while I was present most were somewhat to very high. Walter saw another dozen Osprey between 3pm and 6pm!
Thanks to Ann Brokelman for this wonderful shot of a Broadwinged Hawk. We often get nice low Broadwings at Rosetta, which makes up for lower volumes of them, than are seen at other sites.
Ann also sends along this shot of a Merlin. They always move through very quickly, so I say well captured Ann!

Paul Reeves joined us for the first time today and sent along this fantastic shot of an American Kestrel carrying leftover dragonfly parts. Thanks Paul!! Im sure Paul will be back again soon.
  We saw many thousands of dragonflys today. Undoubtedly it contributed to the number of Kestrels we saw, many hunting and eating on the wing.
Lastly a photo of an Osprey. We saw a remarkable 17 Osprey today. Already bringing our season total to 23. The Osprey photo is mine, I hope to get some nice photos to contribute myself again this year as I have a new camera.                     
Todays Final totals are as follows: 
Northern Harrier-10
Bald Eagle-1 (juvenile 2:18pm)
Sharpshinned Hawk-8
Broadwinged Hawk-9
Redtailed Hawk-7
American Kestrel-64
Peregrine Falcon-1
Total Raptors-120
(please be patient blogger has changed, I will figure out how to line things up properly soon!)
Also seen today were 3 Common Loons, a conservative count of 11 Common Nighthawks(some went back and forth, so I did my best not to double count), thousands of Cedar Waxwings, many Red-breasted Nuthatch and a Least Flycatcher.   Thanks to Betty and Terry for their contributions to Pizza Day. We'll do that a few more times this season.                                                                                    
Tomorrow we will likely get some upflight,but I dont expect a large count beyond about 10am. Friday and Saturday have a chance to be decent days for raptor watching. Keep your eyes on them. Depending on what Hurricane Issac does,our weather patterns may change alot over the next several days.                                                                                                                                                        

Coming Soon To The Skies Near You

Ann Brokelman was up in Lindsay recently and got some amazing shots to share with us. While the vultures will make their big move in October, Harriers are migrating now and through October. They love to fly in strong winds. I expect we will see a few Harriers tomorrow.

These are some of the fantastic shots Ann got of the Turkey Vultures. I dont know what elevation Ann had for these but they are spectacular!

ID Hints Sharpshinned Hawk vs Coopers Hawk

Hi Gang, I thought you might like to check this page out. It gives a pretty good explanation of how to tell a Sharp-shinned Hawk from a Coopers Hawk. We will be seeing tons of Sharpies soon. Coopers will be mixed in but they split their migration time between Sept and Oct about equally. We see about 25 to one Sharpshins over Coopers. No expert gets it right 100% of the time so never feel badly if you get it wrong, or others disagree.

Please note that Tuesday is still looking like weather should be very good for a decent movement of raptors. The rain today(Monday), followed by the good N or NW wind on Tues is an optimal situation. Being early in the migration season, I dont expect hoards of birds but a good number should move. Fingers crossed!