Posted by: jkennedy366 | 18 August 2013

August 17th, August north winds bring Swainson’s Hawks

As Tony mentioned, the flight of Swainson’s hawks yesterday was a record setting event if not an epochal one. The count surpassed all but a couple of days from late in October at the peak of the expected migration. I have seen a couple of migrants at the end of July before hawk watching when a late front reached the area but only had a dozen or that were moving ahead of a thunderhead.

Swainson's hawk from the 23 bird kettle

Swainson’s hawk from the 23 bird kettle

Equally surprising to me was the general lack of both species of kites with only a couple of birds of each species until later in the afternoon when 2 groups made it over the tower.


It was very slow early in the morning until the first hawks got up just before the usual scheduled time of 9:30. I am happy to report that the area as chigger free. As grade A chigger food I covered both of the large motttes and did not meet any of my friends and only a couple of mosquitoes.

The wood had several chuck-will-widows, 4 warblers of 4 species, parula, black and white, black-throated green and yellow and both eastern wood pewees and olive-sided flycatchers.

Smith Point is the best place I know to be able to watch olive-sided flycatchers up close and at great length. Birds pick perches and it appears individual birds keep the same perch for long periods until mid-September. A couple of years ago, I followed an arriving bird come in from the north up high and end up on a tip in the east motte where a long-term resident had been the previous year. It was on the tip for a couple of weeks.

Close up of the olive-sided flycatcher

Close up of the olive-sided flycatcher

The olive-sided flycatchers have an interesting feeding habit; they eat dragonflies wings and all. I was able to watch them do this both on Thursday and today. We watch the kites and hawks carefully pull the wings from the dragonflies they catch over the tower and kingbirds bang the bugs on the perch to remove the wings. But the smaller olive-sided just swallows them

Swallowing a dragonfly whole

Swallowing a dragonfly whole

There was another large migration of several species of dragonflies to the tower and point again today but few birds to eat them. There were some black swallowtails going by too, but not as many as on August 3. Later red admirals and hopefully monarchs will join the migration. And in keeping with the bug theme, the hummingbird feeders were very busy.

Crowds at the hummingbird feeder

Crowds at the hummingbird feeder

There is a good assemblage of purple martins at the point this year for the first time since they were dispersed by Ike. Its good to have them back and lots were up high over the tower in the pm. Tony found the roost down in the little subdivision out Hawkins Camp Road so they have moved from the oyster packing plant.

Purple martin at the sewage ponds

Purple martin at the sewage ponds

And we had a new bird for the tower when 2 different noisy buzz birds came by. The larger bird re-appeared in the afternoon.

Buzzing the tower

Buzzing the tower

An August day with a nice cold front and north winds will certainly make the rest of August seem like an anti-climax unless there are lots more fronts but the weatherman does not seem to be promising such but there is always hope.


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