Posted by: 3pomjaeger3 | 19 October 2013

19 October: The dark-morph Broad-winged mother lode!

crca-ssha-juv-smithpoint-10-19-13-tl-1-cropscreen-lowresThis Crested Caracara, one of two or three that frequent the Point, came by in front and I photographed it just as a juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk flew through the field of view.  All photos are copyright 19 October 2013 by Tony Leukering.  Click on image(s) to see larger version(s).

All the boring days, all the fretting about really low numbers. It’s all forgiven for the spectacle that was today’s flight!

It started benignly enough. In the low overcast, Ron Weeks notched the first Sharpie at 7:25 and counted the first hour’s 22 migrating raptors of four species. The oppressive low overcast stayed around during the next four hours while hourly raptor numbers slowly climbed — 39, 95, 168 — then dropped slightly (154).

But then, the overcast cleared out, the puffy altocumulus stuck around and Broad-wingeds (BW) started coming out of the woodwork. The first hour with some blue sky — noon to 1 — gave us 840 new BW for the day, plus six Swainson’s Hawks. However, in the midst of that hour, Cliff asked me if I’d gotten a dark-morph BW, yet, to which I replied in the negative. Some 10-15 minutes later while I was counting BWs streaming from the Bay going N overhead, what to my wondering eyes should appear but a miniature sleigh… oh no, ’twas a dark BW! ‘Yippee’s and high fives were passed around that we got the year’s dark BW and I passed out Pepperidge Farm Nantuckets. Morale was high.

bwha-juv-dark-firstofday-smithpoint-10-19-13-tl-02-cropscreen-lowres bwha-juv-dark-firstofday-smithpoint-10-19-13-tl-03-cropscreen-lowresTwo pix of the first dark-morph Broad-winged Hawk of the day.

But then, there were TWO MORE that hour! Wow, what’s the seasonal record? ‘Three,’ someone suggested. Cool! Then, guess what. The BWs continued to stream by, coming from the E and disappearing to the W, often passing right overhead! Along with large numbers of late BWs came the dark morphs:

1-2 pm, 1149 BW, 5 dark

2-3 pm, 809 BWs, 4 dark

3-4 pm, a whopping 1984 BWs, NINE dark!!!!

Not only was that the most dark BWs that I’d ever seen in an hour, it was more than I’d seen in a day! But we weren’t done! Ron left shortly after four, so missed out on the pinnacle, a kettle of 525 BWs that was very high, but fairly close. As I was starting through the streaming birds, there was one, no two — three! More! Five, no six dark BWs. Finally, SEVEN dark morphs! YOWZER! I even got individual pix that included 4 of ’em!!  I thus declare the dark-morph Broad-winged Hawks to be The Bird of the Day!

bwha-juv-dark-4of7-smithpoint-10-19-13-tl-1-cropscreen-lowresFour of the seven dark-morph Broad-winged Hawks in the final kettle of the day!

Today’s BW tally was the highest-ever post-2 Oct count and the second-highest post-Sep count ever (at least in the records available to me, 2002-2013). The total tally more than doubled the season’s previous high count.

baea-juv-smithpoint-10-19-13-tl-1-cropscreen-lowresI found this juvenile Bald Eagle waaaay out front and it was verrrry high, such that my first impression was of a Swainson’s Hawk.  But, it didn’t act like one so I stayed with it for a few seconds and then got the right species.  Fortunately, unlike the last Bald Eagle (the one the Marcy brought us), this one went right overhead, though it was still verrrry high!

Oddly, it would have been a good day at the tower without the raptors. Four flocks of Wood Storks included one of a whopping 245 (counted in my pix on my laptop screen), with the day’s total being 367. Levie found a male Vermilion (note, just one ‘l’) Flycatcher near the WMA’s entrance. Ron found a crow flying W out front that became the second local record of Fish Crow. There were 10 flocks of Am. White Pelicans, 6 of Anhinga, some N. Pintail and Green-winged Teal, a Myrtle Warbler, a Marbled Godwit, three flocks each of 3 Roseate Spoonbills, a juv Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, a couple Herring Gulls, three flocks of Gr. White-fronted Geese, and the season’s first flock (68) of Franklin’s Gulls! Not at all a shabby day!

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher tally:  19 (including a flock early of 14)

ficr-smithpoint-10-19-13-tl-1-cropsmallerThis bird accounts for the second record of Fish Crow from Smith Point.

Raptors counted:

  • Black Vulture – 5
  • Turkey Vulture – 64
  • Osprey – 7
  • Mississippi Kite – 1 (juvenile)
  • Northern Harrier – 10
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk – 225
  • Cooper’s Hawk – 75
  • Bald Eagle – 1 (juvenile)
  • Red-shouldered Hawk – 1 (juvenile)
  • Broad-winged Hawk – 5477
  • Swainson’s Hawk – 38 (1 dark)
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 1 (juvenile)
  • American Kestrel – 214
  • Merlin – 2
  • Peregrine Falcon – 0 😦
  • Total – 6121

Today’s eBird checklist

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