Posted by: 3pomjaeger3 | 6 October 2013

6 October: It coulda been a contender!

tuvu-ad-sunrise-smithpoint-10-06-13-tl-04-cropscreen-lowresA striking sunrise is the backdrop to a very early-AM Turkey Vulture testing the air.  All photos copyright 6 October 2013 by Tony Leukering.  Click on image(s) to see larger version(s).

Well, the cold front cleared, but it left behind three hours of off-and-on rain/drizzle that killed any chance that we had for a great flight.  Without the rain, the flight could very well have been one of those classics that are talked about decades hence.  However, today was the most enjoyable flight all season for me, as it was the first ‘typical’ Smith Point north-wind raptor flight this year. That is, virtually all the raptors were close AND low, provoking much oohing and ahing throughout the afternoon.

swha-ad-smithpoint-10-06-13-tl-01-cropscreen-lowresOne visitor’s lifer Swainson’s Hawk, here, was an adult light bird that flew so low directly over the tower that it had to have filled (perhaps to overflowing) her binocular field!

ssha-juv-smithpoint-10-06-13-tl-03-cropscreen-lowres ssha-juv-smithpoint-10-06-13-tl-04-cropscreen-lowres ssha-juv-smithpoint-10-06-13-tl-05-cropscreen-lowres ssha-juv-smithpoint-10-06-13-tl-06-cropscreen-lowresSharp-shinned Hawks were flying before sunrise, as is typical on good days during Sharpie season.  I tallied 106 Sharpies by 9 am, but then the rain came.

coha-juv-smithpoint-10-05-13-tl-01-cropscreen-lowres coha-juv-smithpoint-10-06-13-tl-01-cropscreen-lowres coha-juv-smithpoint-10-06-13-tl-07-cropscreen-lowresThough nowhere near as numerous, today, as Sharp-shinned Hawks, nearly all of the Cooper’s Hawks (all juveniles) counted gave incredible views and photo ops as they passed right by or over the tower!

amke-ad-m-smithpoint-10-06-13-tl-01-cropscreen-lowresThough not counted in spectacular numbers, today’s American Kestrel flight, like everything else, was very close and included the first good hit of males (23), such as this one, an adult (as discerned by its orange chest).

rtha-juv-smithpoint-10-06-13-tl-1-cropscreen-lowrespefa-ad-hugecrop-smithpoint-10-06-13-tl-1-cropscreen-lowresIs anyone missing a couple of grapefruits?  This juvenile Red-tailed Hawk (upper) and this adult Peregrine Falcon (lower) seemed to be carrying large, round fruit in their gullets as they passed the tower today.  However, birds of prey have a storage unit called a crop that enables them to eat a meal much larger than their stomachs can hold, yet keep on keeping on.  When the excess meal is truly in excess, their crops can bulge dramatically, as in these two birds.  Once their stomachs have been emptied (or nearly so) of the early part of the meal, some or all of the crop’s contents can then be swallowed the rest of the way.  It’s like getting a two-for-one special at the local diner!

Raptors counted:

  • Mississippi Kite – 64 (juveniles)
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk – 242 (incl. the first 4 adults of the season)
  • Cooper’s Hawk – 38 (juveniles)
  • Broad-winged Hawk – 164
  • Swainson’s Hawk – 4 (3 ad., 1 unk.)
  • American Kestrel – 74
  • Peregrine Falcon – 4 (1 ad., 3 juvs.)
  • Total – 590

Probably due to strong overnight winds, the landbird flight was skinny and comprised mostly of Scissor-tailed Flycatchers (104) and those little, bouncing birds (see below). I did see a late Purple Martin early in the AM, and there were smatterings (smatteringi?) of Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, and Dickcissel. Oddly, considering the past few days, I saw nary a blackbird.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher tally:  119

chsw-smithpoint-10-06-13-tl-1-cropscreen-lowresOne of a few Chimney Swifts bolting past the tower this afternoon in the blue sky.

stfl-ad-smithpoint-10-06-tl-01-cropscreen-lowres stfl-im-smithpoint-10-06-13-tl-01-cropscreen-lowres stfl-im-smithpoint-10-06-13-tl-02-cropscreen-lowresThree of the many Scissor-tailed Flycatchers passing the tower today, most of them, unfortunately, when there were ugly gray skies as backdrop.  The top bird’s incredibly long tail mark it as an adult (probably a male), while the other two are young-of-the-year.

wpwa-smithpoint-10-06-13-tl-1-cropscreen-lowres wpwa-smithpoint-10-06-13-tl-2-cropscreen-lowresThe only warbler that I ID’ed (out of a huge total of two) was this Western Palm Warbler flying over.  Note the large spots on the outermost rectrices and the strongly yellow, unstreaked vent contrasting with the paler belly and flank streaking.

Today’s eBird checklist

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