Posted by: 3pomjaeger3 | 20 August 2013

20 August: Storms and then more storms

ImageThe view from the tower early this morning, shortly before it started raining the first time.  All photographs copyright on 20 August 2013 by Tony Leukering.

While the raptor show was not stellar, the weather show was, with numerous thunderstorms popping up.  Most of these were on or beyond the barrier islands, but visitor Marvin and I got rained/drizzled on at least three times, the first time being accompanied by a rainbow, as the eastern sky was mostly clear.  Then, when a T-storm started bearing down on the tower after 1 pm, I bailed, not anxious to make the acquaintance of a lightning bolt.  In late morning, a water spout/tornado was visible for >10 minutes out over Trinity Bay, but my photographs did not turn out so well.  But, I still name it Bird of the Day!

miki-subad-smithpoint-8-20-13-tl-1-cropscreen-lowresUnfortunately, this second-year Mississippi Kite (note the mix of gray body plumage and banded tail and the newly-replaced inner primaries) was the only migrating raptor counted today.  At least, unlike most raptors on the weekend, this bird took the typical migrant trajectory across in front of the tower and down the Point, never to be seen again.

Unlike the raptor show, the tiny, bouncy, long-tailed passerine show was pretty good (see below).  At Marvin’s arrival, he noted a Crested Caracara perched in the E motte.  Other birds of interest included the continuing Yellow-billed Cuckoo in front of the tower, an Empidonax flycatcher that did not perch still quite long enough for definitive ID, and a duo of Upland Sandpipers that deigned to fly low and close enough for us to slap eyeballs on ’em!  Late in the count day (which ended early), the various thunderheads and actual raining storms seemed to force the Magnificent Frigatebirds to within sight of the tower, and I scored a season-high tally of 35!

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher tally:  88

mafr-smithpoint-8-20-13-tl-1-cropscreen-lowresThree of the 35 Magnificent Frigatebirds tallied from the tower during threatening skies.

caeg-ad-smithpoint-8-20-13-tl-1-cropscreen-lowresAn adult Cattle Egret that flew directly over the tower, nearly giving me too little time to steal its soul; but not quite!

Today’s eBird checklist

Finally, the conclusion to the mystery accipiter from Sunday (18 August).  To summarize, an adult(ish) accipiter soared over the tower that, upon first glance seemed to be a very early Sharp-shinned Hawk, but when I put my binocular on it, I felt that it was the most Sharpie-like Cooper’s Hawk that I’d ever seen.  I took pictures of it — unfortunately, it was fairly high — and sent them for review.  While many (most?) birders might disagree with my raptor-pro friend and me, I’m calling it a male Cooper’s Hawk.

coha-ad-m-smithpoint-8-18-13-tl1-cropscreen-lowres coha-ad-m-smithpoint-8-18-13-tl2-cropscreen-lowres

Yes, the tail looks pretty square and the white tip is thin.  The tail base, too, is narrow.  But, there is a suggestion that the outermost tail feather (at least on one side) is shorter than the rest, the leading edge of the wings is very straight (without the typical Sharpie jutting wrists), and the head projects quite well, unlike the small, sunk-into-the-shoulders head of Sharp-shinned.  Finally, the bird is in wing molt (it has replaced the five inner primaries, is growing the sixth, and has the outer four old), which strongly suggests (but does not prove) that it is a local adult, thus a Cooper’s Hawk.  With a closer bird, I could have gotten better photos that would have enabled a much closer view of the tail; something that would have helped quite a bit.



  1. I agree, Cooper’s Hawk. The wings just look too long for sharpie and the head is too big

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