Wind (current)

8 Raptors...YTD...6061 Merlin Snares A Chickadee

 While the winds and conditions werent good for raptor migration, we still enjoyed chatting and got a real thrill. A migrating adult male Merlin snagged a Chickadee right from the air only a few feet beside us...WOW!  Mike 4 (Michel Poissant) caught these 2 photos of the Merlin in flight with its meal.

Our total of 8 raptors included
6-Sharpshinned Hawks
1-Coopers Hawk
8-Total Raptors

Tomorrow looks like if there are birds in the pipe line(close enough to migrate past us) then it should be a decent count tomorrow. Strong west winds could get a north element in them,increasing our chances for a good count. Dress warm! The remainder of the week now doesnt look very promising.

Slow Day...Watch Sunday

Today with so much fog and wrong winds was a bust. One lonely Northern Harrier was seen migrating. By 11am fog had really closed in so I gave it up.
  Sunday looks not bad with a strong west wind. Its likely some birds will be seen but not a huge number. Keep your eyes on the weather for a North element in the wind without rain!! If rain is predicted,check the hourly forecast as sometimes it will say rain 1-3mm but it doesnt fall until 4pm!
Tomorrow I will see if the rain stops, as to if I go to the park. It would seem there will be some rain every hour from 9am onward.

Year To Date Totals As At Oct 18th

As at Oct 18th, we are doing very well. Our total of 6052 is close to 1000 birds ahead of last season at the same time, when we hit just over 5000 raptors. Last season was a record count of 6626. With a few decent counts between now and the end of November we should achieve a new season high! Dare we dream of 7000+??
  Thus far we have seen:
2130-Turkey Vultures(already a new high)
58-Bald Eagles
220-Northern Harriers
2052-Sharpshinned Hawks
78-Coopers Hawks
3-Northern Goshawks
347-Broadwinged Hawks
12-Redshouldered Hawks
266-Redtailed Hawks
0-Roughlegged Hawks
3-Golden Eagles
592-American Kestrels
98-Peregrine Falcons(already a new season high)
6052-Total Raptors

Last year into next week, we had a few good days. There is at least one good looking day on the horizon, so we are hopeful of a big day then(Wednesday as at right now).  There are still many Turkey Vultures and Redtailed Hawks left to come, the only species that will really keep the count climbing at this point. There should be small numbers of Goshawks, Roughlegged Hawks, Redshouldered Hawks and Golden Eagles left to come. Some species like Sharpshinned Hawks, Coopers Hawks, Bald Eagles, Northern Harriers and Merlins will be seen in declining numbers the rest of the way. Most or all of the Osprey, Broadwinged Hawks, American Kestrels and Peregrine Falcons should be gone now, so sightings of these species will be sparse to non-existant, but the beauty of birding is you just never know what we might see.

32 Raptors...YTD...6052

For such a blustery day with winds from a less than stellar direction, we did alright. 5 more Peregrine Falcons brings us to 98 for the season with dreams of an unbelievable 100 dancing in our heads. Truely Im astounded.
  We had several Sharpshinned Hawks and Coopers Hawks tacking into the wind sideways and 4 low Turkey Vultures.
   I managed one reasonable shot of a male Northern Harrier, the first time Ive caught a photo of one.
Our total today was:
4-Turkey Vultures
4-Northern Harriers
8-Sharpshinned Hawks
6-Coopers Hawks
1-Redtailed Hawk
2-American Kestrels
5-Peregrine Falcons
32-Total Raptors

Thanks to Cori for the coffee run, thanks to Walter for buying. Phil, Ann, Allison, Berle, Carol and special guest star Daniel watched with Walter and I today. Again we had a couple of new folks who will be back to visit again soon. We look forward to new faces and friends.
  Saturday and Sunday may see some birds go by...southwest winds can bring Peregrine Falcons, so we hope to see a couple of them at least. Tuesday(depending on rain) and Wednesday look like great chances for big days. Keep an eye on them. A reminder weekdays bathrooms are currently opened from7-5pm weekends 9-5pm.  I also remind folks that arriving pre 9am is almost not worth while,barring the best of best days.  

136 Raptors...YTD...6020 We Broke 6000!

Today we cracked the 6000 raptor mark, with a count of 136 raptors. Many birds were painfully high, thanks to some great spotting help from Phil we got many more birds than we otherwise would have. Ron, Carol, Berle, Ann, Phil, Betty, Paul, Richard,Cori and Norm joined Walter and I for a challanging day of raptor watching.  It was great to see Pat and Nancy for awhile today too!!  A few new folks dropped by who we hope to see back on the next potentially big day(north element wind).  By 1pm things had stopped moving, with only 12 birds after 1pm. If they were still flying, they were north of us, due to the wind shift.
  Of note 2 more Peregrine Falcons went by, bringing our record season total to 93. A Northern Goshawk went by low and close and we passed the 2000 mark for sightings of Sharpshinned Hawks.

 Todays final total was:
5-Turkey Vultures
6-Northern Harriers
73-Sharpshinned Hawks
4-Coopers Hawks
1-Northern Goshawk
39-Redtailed Hawks
5-American Kestrels
2-Peregrine Falcons
136-Total Raptors

Conditions do not look very good for the coming days. I will be present sporadically, please watch the winds for the next best day. So far as the current report goes there will be very little moving through the weekend. I will try to give a heads up for the next big day. Redtails and still many vultures are to come, Red-shoulders too plus Golden Eagles and Roughlegs.
  We saw our first Eastern Bluebirds migrate through today, some Pine Siskins, thousands of Red-winged Blackbirds and thousands of American Robins. Down on the lake we saw 4 Long-tailed Ducks, several Red-breasted Mergansers and a few small rafts of Common Loons.
  A special Happy Birthday to Phil.

5 Sharpshinneds YTD Total Raptors..5884.

Today was another predictably slow day. 5 Sharpshinned Hawks went past on a blustery damp cold overcast day.Tomorrow the winds dont look to be what they were once predicted. I suspect it will be a short day unless the winds surprise us...or the birds do!

This is a shot Mark Nash sent me of the  group that gathered to watch the Peregrine release. Some like Walter and Jean continued to count Turkey Vultures that were streaming over at the time. Glad someone did!!
The rest of this week doesnt look very promising so far as us at Rosetta McClain Gardens seeing very much. Unless U just want to get out of the house, other than possibly tomorrow, there are no good days in the immediate future.(through Sunday) I will not be present days there is nothing but rain and south winds. Also at this stage there is no reason to be at the park very early. 9am or even 10am is fine most days as the larger birds that are left to migrate, generally dont get going very early, unless there has been a great wind the day before and we get upflight. Dress accordingly, dampness, even with south(warmer winds) is not comfortable. Lets hope for a change in whether or another day next week that has perfect conditions for another MEGA-DAY.

Special Post: Ann's Beach Metro News Article

Our own Ann Brokelman writes articles for The Beach Metro News and this time it was about how she got interested in birding, and the role Rosetta McClain Gardens Raptor Watch played in it. Thanks Ann for the prominent mention and Im so glad you joined us. Your articles bring new watchers each time the watch is mentioned, bringing us new friends and spreading the interest/obcession with raptors.
  Here is the link to the story Ann did most recently

Ann getting involved has meant more exposure for the watch and allowing use of her fantastic photos over the years has brought birders and photographers alike to the watch to enjoy the wonder that is fall migration. We all have our own stories of what the raptor watch has meant to us.
    With November fast approaching and some slow days then, Id love to hear YOUR story. With your permission I will post some stories on the slower days or days we dont count. Who knows who you may inspire?  Maybe you started volunteering somewhere, maybe its just meant a reason to socialize and meet new friends or maybe you've been on some adventure since joining us. Walter and I will both definetly contribute, Ann is welcome to submit something with unlimited space for text(all of her special photos would slow down the entire internet Im sure). I hope YOU will share your experiences.

Oct 13th...And Then There Was Today. 6 Raptors ....5879 YTD

Today the flow of raptors was slow to stop. 6 countable birds were seen. A local Merlin made a few passes of the park, a Peregrine Falcon came part way to the park and then went back to the east, and 4 local Turkey Vultures went back and forth along the bluffs, so there was at least some birds to look at.
Countable birds were:
2-Northern Harriers
3-Sharpshinned Hawks
1-American Kestrel
6-Total Raptors

Lee captured this shot of the young Peregrine Falcon before it disappeared headed back to the east. We'll count it another day.

Noone will be present Sunday to count. Monday there may be a few birds, but Tuesday is looking like it could be another great day. There should still be Turkey Vultures out there to come and Redshoulderd and Redtailed Hawks have only just started to migrate. More Golden Eagles should grace us(in small numbers) and Roughlegged Hawks are still to come, so there is still alot to look forward to.