Posted by: 3pomjaeger3 | 4 October 2013

4 October: Peregrine record!

pefa-ad-smithpoint-10-04-13-tl-1-cropscreen-lowresThis adult Peregrine Falcon passing right by the tower was one of a new record one-day count at Smith Point; most were much more distant.  All photos are copyright 4 October 2013 by Tony Leukering.  Click on image(s) to see larger version(s).

For the second consecutive day, the count cracked 1000, with today’s highlight being doubling yesterday’s count of 10 Peregrines. This total of 20 today exceeds the previous one-day records at Smith Point:  the 18 on an unknown date during the volunteer era (thanks, John Whittle) and that of 15 on 24 Sep 2005 during the “professional” era! Other raptor highlights included two Swallow-tailed Kites together, which is of interest for at least three reasons: 1) a new Oct high count, 2) the third-latest record at SP, and 3) only the 4th and 5th Oct Swallow-taileds here. Today also marked the highest species count among tallied raptor migrants for the season with 13. That was helped by tallying migrants of both vulture species for the first time this year. I did not count the juvenile White-tailed Hawk that cruised by eastward high and distant this afternoon. I did not count it because I tallied one yesterday and the views on both birds were poor, negating any chance to determine whether they were different birds.

stki-ad-smithpoint-10-04-13-tl-01-cropscreen-lowresThese two adult Swallow-tailed Kites passed by the tower with a flock of Mississippis early this morning and accounted for only the fourth and fifth of the species to pass the tower in October.  Ever.  That we know of.

Raptors counted:

  • Black Vulture – 9
  • Turkey Vulture – 45
  • Osprey – 2
  • Northern Harrier – 3
  • Swallow-tailed Kite – 2
  • Mississippi Kite – 38
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk – 51
  • Cooper’s Hawk – 33
  • Broad-winged Hawk – 1031
  • Swainson’s Hawk – 2
  • American Kestrel – 14 (12f, 2u)
  • Merlin – 1
  • Peregrine Falcon – 20 (3 ad, 8 juv, 9 u)
  • Total – 1251

A flock of five Eastern Kingbirds had tyrannid company at the tower today, as I also snagged singles of Scissor-tailed Fly and Eastern Phoebe, the latter being a seasonal first. It was also feeling a bit like fall early as a number of blackbird flocks went by, mostly of Red-wingeds and Brown-headed Cowbirds.  Blue-gray Gnatcatchers moved early in numbers, but did not keep things going into the afternoon, so I wound up with

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher tally:  97

Today’s eBird checklist

blja-smithpoint-10-04-13-tl-1-cropscreen-lowresThough this was one of a few that came back, Blue Jays again were moving westward in flocks past the tower.

bwha-juv-ssha-juv-smithpoint-10-04-13-tl-1-cropscreen-lowresThis was just part of a nice kettle overhead; can you find the one that is not a Broad-winged Hawk?


It is becoming latish for Magnificent Frigatebirds on Galveston Bay, particularly for adult males, which are never common.

rwbl-bhco-m-f-smithpoint-10-04-13-tl-1-cropscreen-lowresThis picture shows some of the birds of a blackbird flock passing over the tower early this morning.  Can you spot the shape differences that allow you to separate the single Red-winged Blackbird from the six Brown-headed Cowbirds?  These are the sorts of things that I will be presenting in another flight-ID workshop at the tower, this one on 2 November, that will cover anything that flies by.  Space is still available and I am told that if this one fills, we will offer one the next Saturday.  Contact GCBO for details.  [The answer is that, among other differences, Red-winged Blackbirds have more rounded wingtips than the fairly pointed wingtips of Brown-headed Cowbirds and that though the latter does not really have a longer tail, it can appear so due to the pinched-in base relative to the Red-winged’s tail meeting the body in nearly a straight line.]



  1. […] waiting list for a possible second such workshop to be held on 9 November.  Please see the details here and […]

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