Posted by: 3pomjaeger3 | 23 September 2013

22 September: Big-waterbird resurgence


After weeks of poor showing by waterbirds, today saw a resurgence in numbers of a couple species, including Wood Stork.  Photographing the undersides of flying Wood Storks enables one to age them.  According to Pyle (2008), the outer greater primary coverts transition from mostly dark to all white over some five years.  This bird, which has the outermost covert black and the next two partly black, is apparently ageable as a third-year bird, that is, hatched two years ago.  All photos copyright 22 September 2013 by Tony Leukering.  Click on image(s) to see larger version(s).

With the cold front clearing last night (the first one in a month!), Winnie Burkett and I were on the tower well before sunrise anticipating the best and most-diverse morning flight of the season.  We were sorely disappointed, as landbirds were, again, most notable by their absence, as evidenced by just 11 Dickcissels and nine warblers (only one identified to species and that a Yellow).  The coolest landbird event was the Chuck-will’s-widow that I found out over East Bay flying up bay and then turning north and heading into East Motte.  The thing was dark with slow wingbeats and when I found it, I thought that it was going to be a small heron, specifically a Green Heron; but then I got it in the scope.  Ah, I like being wrong like that!

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher tally:  64

Waterbirds, however, saved the morning, including four flocks of dabbling ducks (all or most of which were Blue-winged Teal), 68 Snowy Egrets, 280 Wood Storks (nine flocks), and the first four-digit White Ibis flight of the season.

While the raptor count was the second-largest of the season, with nine species recorded migrating, considering the interminable time spent under the high-pressure dome with poor numbers of raptors coming by, the flight was disappointing; I was expecting many thousands of Broad-winged Hawks.  But, while the flight went on, it was very fun, particularly the liftoff, with 171 juvenile Mississippi Kites directly overhead luring the many photographers into spending lots of index-finger muscle twitches.  Then, Winnie found an adult Swallow-tailed Kite among its lesser brethren!  We never know when the last one will pass for the season, because we’re already deep on the backside of the species’ temporal occurrence here at Smith Point.

stki-ad-miki-juv-smithpoint-9-22-13-tl-1-cropscreen-lowres stki-ad-miki-juv-smithpoint-9-22-13-tl-2-cropscreen-lowres stki-ad-smithpoint-9-22-13-tl-01-cropscreen-lowresJust a few of the large number of images that I captured of the Swallow-tailed Kite that sailed around by the tower for quite a while this morning.  This bird’s dark smudge on the inner part of the left wing should make the individual identifiable, so, anyone to south of us keep an eye out!

Raptors counted:

  • Osprey – 3
  • Swallow-tailed Kite – 1
  • Mississippi Kite – 309
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk – 23 (juveniles)
  • Cooper’s Hawk – 11 (juveniles)
  • Broad-winged Hawk – 1160 (a few adults mixed in)
  • Swainson’s Hawk – 3
  • Merlin – 1
  • Peregrine Falcon – 2 (adult, juvenile)
  • Total – 1513

Today’s eBird checklist

Literature Cited:

Pyle, P. 2008. Identification Guide to North American Birds. Slate Creek Press, Bolinas, CA.

The Bird of the Day, however, was, again, a Chuck-will’s-widow.  Like the last one that came sauntering by the tower in broad daylight, this one came out of the East Motte and I just happened to spot it the moment that it did.  Thus, I was able to alert a sizable number of birders and/or photographers as it took its leisurely 3 pm stroll by the tower and then north into one of the oaks out front.  I’ve provided just a couple pictures of the beastie.

cwwi-smithpoint-9-22-13-tl-02-cropscreen-lowres cwwi-smithpoint-9-22-13-tl-03-cropscreen-lowres cwwi-smithpoint-9-22-13-tl-04-cropscreen-lowres cwwi-smithpoint-9-22-13-tl-05-cropscreen-lowres cwwi-smithpoint-9-22-13-tl-06-cropscreen-lowres cwwi-smithpoint-9-22-13-tl-07-cropscreen-lowres


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