Posted by: 3pomjaeger3 | 24 September 2013

23 September: Where ARE the landbirds?

piwo-smithpoint-9-23-12-tl-1-cropscreen-lowresA pre-sunrise view to the east this morning.  Look carefully, one of those broken-off branches is not broken off, nor a branch.  All photos copyright 23 September 2103 by Tony Leukering, except where noted.  Click on image(s) to see larger version(s).

Both Ron Weeks and I arrived at the tower before sunrise, expecting a good landbird/passerine hit, since it didn’t happen yesterday.  It didn’t happen again.  This was particularly distressing to us, as John Whittle and others had scored big yesterday at Sabine Woods, with 24 species of warblers and lots of individuals thereof.  Though I managed a hefty day’s species list for the tower, the variety of passerines was not the main force (see today’s eBird checklist).  Once again, waterbirds saved the morning, with two flocks of Fulvous Whistling-Ducks (I’d seen the species just once previously from the tower, not at all last fall), a couple flocks of Blue-winged Teal, and scads of White Ibis.  Because ibis were flying early and frequently — they are usually not common until after 8 am (very reasonable birds, ibis), I predicted that I’d tally 3000 to 4000 of ’em by day’s end.  With the help of Ron and of Andy Dietrich, we did get thousands, but all my expert help had gone by 2 pm, so I might not have gotten all the later flocks that I might have with some sky-scanning help.  Still, I ended with 2545 of ’em, so I wasn’t far off with my prediction.  There were only two flocks of Wood Storks today, but, between the two of ’em, we had storks to ogle for well over an hour; Wood Storks often seem not to know where they want to go, drifting about hither and yon.  The first flock, of 55, had four White Ibis hitch-hikers, while the second one, of 64, carried with them 33 Anhinga.

fuwd-smithpoint-9-23-13-tl-1-cropscreen-lowresNot the greatest of pix, but these seven Fulvous Whistling-Ducks can be identified as whistling-ducks by their long necks and tails and as some species other than Black-bellied by their lack of obvious white wing stripes.  This was only the second flock of the species that I’ve seen from the tower; oddly, the first was a few days ago and also numbered seven.  But, a flock of 42 also headed east up East Bay this morning, but they were farther out and hugging the water’s surface, thus no pix.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher tally:  31 (and that’s all that I’m saying about passerines)

The morning liftoff of raptors, mainly Mississippi Kites, was smaller than yesterday’s, but the photographers were happy with lots of close and low birds.  I was getting a little annoyed, however, as some 12-16 kites, five Broad-winged Hawks, and two female American Kestrels just hung around drifting back and forth, back and forth across in front of and over the tower.  I was hoping that they’d clear out, so that I could count ’em and look for birds coming from farther afield.  But, no, there were large numbers of Common Green Darners, and the kites — all juveniles — spent quite a bit of time endeavoring to catch breakfast, some with more success than others (see below).  A male American Kestrel apparently had little problem catching one, as I got three pictures of him heading west with a darner in its grasp and I never saw the wee beastie again.

Raptors counted:

  • Osprey – 3
  • Mississippi Kite – 201
  • Northern Harrier – 2 (a brown bird and a juvenile male)
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk – 16 (juveniles)
  • Cooper’s Hawk – 10 (juveniles)
  • White-tailed Hawk – 1 (adult)
  • Broad-winged Hawk – 93 (at least one adult amongst the host of juveniles)
  • Swainson’s Hawk – 1 (juvenile)
  • American Kestrel – 2 (male, female)
  • Peregrine Falcon – 1 (adult)
  • Total – 330

miki-juv-cgda-smithpoint-9-23-12-tl-2-cropscreen-lowres miki-juv-cgda-smithpoint-9-23-12-tl-3-cropscreen-lowresDoes that kite look embarrassed, or what?!  Common Green Darner – 1, Mississippi Kite – 0.

We had no diurnal fly-by of Chuck-will’s-widow, but that’s getting passe, anyway.  I’m looking for Eastern Whip-poor-will (one of which Ron found in the woods today) to do the afternoon saunter any day now.  Wouldn’t that be a coup?!

Quiz — The new quiz is another like the Blue Grosbeak quiz.  Though I could tell you what species is involved, I don’t think that you’ll need that hint.  What I’m looking for here is the age or ages of the two birds in the photo (copyright 9 September 2013 by Tony Leukering).




  1. On the left is a second year; on the right is a first year.
    Thanks and keep up the good work.

  2. Oh, and they’re roseate spoonbills.

  3. Trailing bird is juvenile and front bied is adult

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