Posted by: 3pomjaeger3 | 2 September 2013

2 September: No sunrise picture

ImageAmong a HUGE west-bound swallow flight today, Purple Martins made a great showing for what for them is late in the season.  All photos are copyright 2 September 2013 by Tony Leukering.  Click on image(s) to see larger version(s).

Yet another swallow flight, this one with a bit more data to back up the estimates of numbers.  For the first three hours or so, swallows were passing the tower at rates exceeding 100/minute (reaching 114/minute over multiple two-minute counts).  The fourth hour saw a huge reduction in numbers, but those then rebounded to levels of at least 50/minute (often reaching nearly 100/minute) for the rest of the day.  My estimates were thus 5000 Bank Swallows, 3500 Barn Swallows, 6500 Cliff Swallows, and 15,000 swallow sp.  As I have no feeling that any species were found differentially in larger or smaller numbers out there where naked-eyeball ogling could not slap names on birds, thus, you can probably double the number for each of those three species.  Though I didn’t count them, my almost-certainly-low estimate was that 85+ passed the tower today.

‘Twas also a good day for shorebirds, though I missed a few regulars (Sanderling) and semi-regulars (Semipalmated Plover, Black-necked Stilt).  Still, I scored eight species plus dowitcher sp, including a flock of nine Buff-breasted Sandpipers that flew right over the tower, very low!  The other species were Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, Willet, Lesser Yellowlegs, Upland Sandpiper (three seen in one flock, three other detections), Marbled Godwit, and Least Sandpiper.

ImageI noted a flock of nine shorebirds to the east heading toward the tower and alerted the visitors present.  I turned, grabbed my camera, and got it pointed up in time to grab two pictures of one of the flock’s members as they ripped over our heads.  The first picture was out of focus.  Though the focus was good on the second picture, I did not manage to keep the entire bird in the frame.  Bummer!  Despite that disappointment, I name this bird The Bird of the Day!

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher tally:  45

Despite similar conditions to those of the past two days, the flight line today was quite a bit closer, thus affording somewhat better looks at migrating raptors.  That does not mean that we got good looks.  The flight started with a couple of Cooper’s Hawks and Broad-winged Hawks and got a bit more diverse through the day.  Two Ospreys and a distant juvenile Peregrine Falcon, made for the highlights.  Interestingly, near the end of the day, I finally saw Mississippi Kites, once the wind had turned nearly due south and increased in speed to nearly 20 mph.  Two birds were seen heading N out front and then a flock of 15 was well out over the Point heading SW, dragging single juvenile Broad-winged and White-tailed hawks with them; the buteos declined to cross the Bay with the kites.  Shortly after the beginning of the last hour (3-4 pm), a final two put in an appearance way out on the Point.  For the past two days, at least, all Mississippis have been late in the day and out so far to the northwest that they were barely-identifiable blobs.  Very interesting.  I will have to watch a little more closely out there.

Raptors counted:

  • Osprey – 2
  • Mississippi Kite – 19
  • Cooper’s Hawk – 7 (all juveniles)
  • Broad-winged Hawk – 15 (all juveniles)
  • Swainson’s Hawk – 7 (all juveniles)
  • White-tailed Hawk – 1
  • Peregrine Falcon – 1
  • Total – 52

Today’s eBird checklist


ImageA loose (very loose) flock of five Roseate Spoonbills included this adult that flew ridiculously close to the tower, almost begging me to take its picture.

ImageWhile the Magnificent Frigatebird show was not as good as it has been recently, it did include this trio of adult males passing high right by the tower heading south.  I rarely see more than two adult males at a time here, and even two is rare, except on that magical one-time count of 84.  That is because adult males (in fact, adults of either sex) account for such a small percentage of the birds present, as they take some seven years to reach plumage maturity.  Younger males sport some white somewhere on their underparts until then.


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