Posted by: 3pomjaeger3 | 21 August 2013

21 August: Rain delay


The view through my windshield after bolting from the tower this afternoon.  All photographs copyright by Tony Leukering.

For the second day in a row, a thunderstorm kicked me off the tower.  Unlike yesterday, however, it wasn’t the lighting, it was the deluge (see above).  Since the hawk flight was slow, I was not too sad to take a 1.5-hour break, go home, dry off, get some writing done, and come back when the storm stopped booming.  Interestingly, the storm dropped so much rain, that the pond on the north side of town that had been less than half-full is now full (see below).  That means, in the short term, little or no shorebird habitat.  In fact, this afternoon, there were just seven Black-necked Stilts and a single Solitary Sandpiper there, when it has been holding 30-50 Least Sandpipers and a smattering of Stilt Sandpipers, among other shorebirds.  But, in the long term, it has greatly extended the life of shorebird habitat here, once it dries up a bit.  The real downside to this rain is that I’m certain that the respite in mosquito numbers that I’ve been enjoying will come crashing to an end in the near future!

ImageSmith Point town pond this afternoon after the deluge!

 I counted just four raptors before the rain delay, but the first one of the day was an adult Swallow-tailed Kite, just the sixth of the season here.  I saw another Swallow-tailed Kite after the rain delay.  Or, at least, I thought that I did, until I uploaded my pictures of the “two” birds to find that they were one and the same!  Aarrgh.  That will teach me to have physical evidence that forces me to chop my day’s count of Swallow-taileds in half!  Two Crested Caracaras that flew by this morning going east(ish) provided the only other raptor highlight.

ImageThe Swallow-tailed Kite, when it came by after the rain delay.

Raptors counted:

  • Swallow-tailed Kite – 1
  • Broad-winged Hawk – 2 (juveniles)
  • Swainson’s Hawk – 1 (light juvenile)
  • Total – 4

The passerine show was also scanty, highlighted (as per usual) by the gnatcatcher flight (see below).  However, I did see the first of the hordes of Scissor-tailed Flycatchers that will go by the tower this fall.  I also saw, for the second consecutive day, a Lark Sparrow on the fence to the west of the parking lot.  A single green Painted Bunting continues around the parking lot, though seen just once a day for the past few days.  There was an uptick in Bank Swallow numbers, as I nearly scored double-digit numbers of them (missed by one), and the Barn and Cliff swallows show continues, though not in the strength of last week.  However, the daily count of Cliffs continues to cause the eBird filter indigestion.  Of course, Smith Point is probably the only place in the county where one can see so many Cliff Swallows at this time of year.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher tally:  107

The waterbird show was mediocre, at best, with highlights being my first Reddish Egret of the season and a continuing excellent Magnificent Frigatebird showing!  At one point this morning, there were 15 circling directly over the tower at height!  I just cannot get enough of those beasts!  Willets were apparently moving today, as I tallied flocks of ten, two, and eight heading west; the previous max for the season was of just two, and those are probably local wintering Western Willets.  The flocks today were too far away to be certain of subspecies.

Due to the rain delay, I had to split my eBird data into two checklists and you can peruse them here and here.


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