Posted by: jkennedy366 | 10 August 2013

August 10th Hawk Watch

Not many hawks counted today and the watch had to take a 2 hour break from 8:30 to 10:30 due to lightning etc. I learned a couple of years ago that you do not have to have close by thunder for lightning to hit very close to the tower.

Actual hawks counted were:

broad-winged 12
cooper’s 2

Best hawk of the day a sharp-shinned male that would have hit my windshield on the way down to the point just before the JP building right after sunrise. It possibly arrived at the point about 11:30 but I just saw the bird vanish into the trees never to reappear. I had a similar bird back in 2011 and these could be the very scarce piney woods nesters wandering or moving.

Background birds at the point is an adult and either 3 or 4 recently fledged broad-wings that are out flying; at least the parent is out and about and the young went out for a spin. A week ago they were not up high and just moved out of the northeast motte for a minute and then went back down. Today they went up high and returned when a parent came back and landed.

Best birds at the point are the 2 just fledged turkey vultures that really want to perch on the tower and use the parking lot. Last week they mainly hopped around trees but this week that can soar well for a short while. A scientific experiment with the 2 showed that each could recognize a peanut butter sandwich as natural food without the intervention of a parent. Otherwise, they were tasting the damp cardboard etc in the parking lot.



The young vultures can be identified not only by the dark head and brownish feather edgings, but by the neat and even feathering. The older birds are starting to molt and have a years worth of feather wear so feathers are uneven, worn and missing.

One big female cooper’s came by and headed out to the park just as I went back up the tower. No other birds were seen until 1 pm when the wind shifted to the northeast and about 165+ vultures kettled up in 2 groups. This is the most non-migrants I have seen in the area since pre-Ike. Several of each are young of the year. The 2 locals joined in for a bit but soon came back down. A single cooper’s and broad-wing went up at the same time and then there were a couple of small groups of immature broad-wings until everone settled down for the afternoon.

Had 20 oystercatchers scavenging including band Y0 from Dickinson Bay. The scissor-tails that just got out of the nest last week were up on the wires begging. a few dickcissel, orchard orioles, about 35 gnatcatchers and 3 hummingbirds plus an unknown empidonax made up the migrants. An upland sandpiper and solitary sandpiper went over calling.

As the rain approached, 2 kettles of frigatebirds moved ahead of the cloud face and combined with birds moving from Galveston to trinity bay during the day, I had 31 magnificent frigatebirds for the day. Almost no gulls or terns all day.

Kettle in front of the storm

Kettle in front of the storm

There was almost no rain at the tower and even less at Robbins Park. Many of the tall oak trees are starting to die after the 100 degree weather and continuing rain last week. Big tree problem starting and trees are also dying along the road down to the point. Only freshwater wet spot is the drying pond at the red abandoned restaurant.

The fish and oyster fry is scheduled on Saturday August 31 to keep it with the labor day weekend but not the first Saturday of September. The food is worth a trip to Smith Point and you also get hawks and other birds. You are supporting the Volunteer Fire Department which will protect the tower and woods in the event of a brush fire.



  1. Great to have you back! Be careful out there; no need to become a crispy critter in these storms.

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