Posted by: jkennedy366 | 15 August 2013

August 15th empidonax watch and hawk of the day

The weather resulted in no hawks for the day up to the time I gave up about 2 pm. There was a young swainson’s hawk sitting up in the northwest motte that went out for a spin about 9am but turned around and came back right away. About 2pm an adult turkey vulture flew by and was chased by the 2 local young birds who wanted lunch but found the cupboard bare. The adult finally perched alone way out Hawkins camp.

The were lots of hawks around though. In one section of Hawkins Camp Road between 3 power poles, 17 common nighthawks were perched. Lots more were around the corner on Texaco Road on the fence wires and posts making this the hawk of the day.

Hawk of the day

Hawk of the day

The birds of the day were the many empidonax flycatchers all around the rattlebox and edge of the pond etc near the tower. Most were alder flycatchers which called, sang, fought, chased and sounded and acted more like breeding birds than migrants. At one point I thought I heard a yellow-bellied flycatcher and Tony found it in the scope almost right away. A couple of leasts were pipping too.

One of the many empidonax in the rattlebox

One of the many empidonax in the rattlebox

The best bird was a willow flycatcher which is my first in at least a couple of falls. It called too but did not sing. I was playing the various empidonax calls trying to figure out who was going pop, pip or pep and was listening to the willow when the bird came close to landing on my head but I glanced up at the last moment. Would have made a better story though. 2 or 3 olive-sided flycatchers, wood pewees, eastern kingbirds added to the fun.

Lots of upland sandpipers went over all day along with a couple of solitary sandpipers and a flock of buff-breasted sandpipers. The pond by the red barn had 35 stilt sandpipers and 5 Wilson’s phalaropes when I arrived and during one wet period had a flock of semipalmated sandpipers including young of the year.

While driving about, there were lots of bobwhites along the road edge where they were trying to keep dry as they did not want to go into wet vegetation.

Trying to stay dry

Trying to stay dry

They have not mowed the wildlife area this summer so the edges have ragweed and sunflowers and thus many more birds than last year. The offset is that there is no paths to the mottes but the grass is not thick and there are almost no mosquitoes and I have noticed no chiggers yet but that may have to wait until morning. There is a lupine type flower out there that has lots of big bumblebees.

Still no kites or anhingas but lots of white ibis and some swallows. And hummingbirds are starting to come to the feeders so there was always good birding. Best empidonax I have had in several years at Smith Point

The semipalmated plovers are roosting at Robbins Park again and over 100 least terns were there during the 2nd shower as there were no fishermen. About a dozen new black-bellied plovers had arrived still in breeding plumage. The oystercatchers were resting on the barge as there were no new shells to glean.

Around 11am in light rain, a young cooper’s hawk did migrate past the park and the island west of the Spoonbill but couldn’t be counted as it did no go past go or the tower so at least a hawk did migrate.


  1. Wow, I want to be There! Chained to the desk and hating it. Love the report!

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