Posted by: 3pomjaeger3 | 18 October 2013

17 October: If only

merl-smithpoint-10-17-13-tl-1-cropscreen-lowresAn early Merlin screamed by the tower, providing photo ops in the low, overcast light; it was one of a season-high three counted today.  All photos copyright 17 October 2013 by Tony Leukering.  Click on image(s) to see larger version(s).
If only.  Yes, yet another “if only” day.  Today’s “if only” was if only the low (very low) overcast had cleared three hours earlier.
Late in the day, after the low overcast had cleared (2:30 pm), the extensive set of mare’s-tails cirrus clouds formed a lovely backdrop to the end of what was a really good late-season Broad-winged flight.  However, I would put some serious moola down that a huge late-season Broad-winged flight would have been counted had that overcast cleared by 11:30 am.  As example, twice I and visitors heard Greater White-fronted Geese overhead, but they were obviously above the cloud layer, because we never saw ’em.  (Oddly, the only geese that we saw never called.)  Also, just after 4 pm, I found a speck Osprey (the only countable Osprey of the day) hauling SSW very high overhead.  How many of those did we miss because of the low overcast?
The long-staying visitors wish to thank Marcy for, again, leaving so that the Bald Eagle could come by.  This one took its time, not arriving until the 3-4 pm hour.
bwha-juv-smithpoint-10-17-13-tl-01-cropscreen-lowresObviously after the low overcast cleared, this juvenile Broad-winged Hawk came right over the tower with a bunch of kettlemates.

Raptors counted:
  • Black Vulture – 14
  • Turkey Vulture – 50
  • Osprey – 1
  • Mississippi Kite – 3 (juveniles)
  • Northern Harrier – 5
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk – 96
  • Cooper’s Hawk – 45
  • Bald Eagle – 1 (juvenile)
  • Broad-winged Hawk – 1178
  • Swainson’s Hawk – 1
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 4
  • American Kestrel – 47
  • Merlin – 3
  • Peregrine Falcon – 3
  • Total – 1451
Scissor-tailed flycatchers went by in okay numbers early, but did not sustain the flight.  Yesterday’s (presumably, it was the same bird) Yellow-billed Cuckoo made a couple of appearances scarfing down big, hairy caterpillars.  A Herring Gull and some more late Wood Storks were the highlights of a lackluster waterbird flight.
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher tally:  5
puma-juv-smithpoint-10-17-13-tl-1-cropscreen-lowresA very late juvenile Purple Martin went by in the afternoon, with at least one wing problem (easily visible in picture), which probably explains its tardiness on getting south of the border.
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