Posted by: 3pomjaeger3 | 25 October 2013

25 October: Waterfowl, soaring birds

nopi-m-f-bwte-smithpoint-10-25-13-tl-1-cropscreen-lowresWaterfowl were the early-morning birds of interest, with this flock of Blue-winged Teal and Northern Pintail, only part of which is included in this picture, passing nicely close to the tower.  How many male Northern Pintails do you see?  All photos copyright 25 October 2013 by Tony Leukering.  Click on image(s) to see larger version(s).

Waterfowl were on the move past the tower early, as is true on most days, but is particularly true for ducks, the vast majority of which pass here in the first hour of daylight.  I tallied six species of waterfowl, including two species of geese in the first flock of the day:  26 Greater White-fronteds with 15 Snows.  Many flocks of American White Pelican continue to pass by, though the ten flocks today were relatively small.  I also saw a mixed-ibis flock for, perhaps, the first time ever at the tower, with 12 dark ibis 15 White Ibis.  In the hundreds of White Ibis flocks that I’ve seen pass here in two fall seasons, I’ve never seen any other species fly with them, though I’ve seen small numbers of White Ibis fly with other species, particularly American White Pelicans.

Today saw the typical effects of blue sky and light winds:  the soaring birds got up and then got up more and more, with the “more” meaning “higher,” not “more birds.”  In these conditions, Cooper’s Hawk nearly always outnumbers Sharp-shinned Hawk, and today was no exception, partly because Sharp-shinneds start disappearing from view at much lower altitude, but also, I believe, because Cooper’s use soaring conditions more than do Sharpies.  Whether that’s just idle incorrect speculation or not awaits focused effort.

noha-ad-f-smithpoint-10-25-13-tl-01-cropscreen-lowresDetermining the age and sex of “brown” Northern Harriers can be tricky in fall, when even adult females can be warm-colored below.  Fortunately, this adult female passed fairly close to the tower, allowing for correct ageing and sexing!

bwha-juv-smithpoint-10-25-13-tl-02-cropscreen-lowresI love the topside photo ops at the tower!  This juvenile Broad-winged Hawk provides yet another great example of the fact that the simple presence of white on the uppertail coverts is not the best of features for identifying Northern Harriers.  You do know that Northern Harriers don’t actually have white rumps, right?  Their rumps are brown/gray, just like the rest of the upperside body plumage.  Their uppertail coverts are white, however.

rsha-juv-smithpoint-10-25-13-tl-01-cropscreen-lowresRed-shouldered Hawks, particularly juveniles like this one, can often sneak past observers on the tower.  However, this bird’s signature buffy wingtip crescent and its dark throat make the call straightforward.

amke-m-cgda-smithpoint-10-25-13-tl-01-cropscreen-lowresThe numerous Common Green Darners provided a traveling snack for more than one raptor today, this one carrying a male American Kestrel on its back.

Raptors counted:

  • Turkey Vulture – 70
  • Osprey – 3
  • Northern Harrier – 27
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk – 12
  • Cooper’s Hawk – 27
  • White-tailed Hawk – 1 (adult)
  • Red-shouldered Hawk – 1 (juvenile)
  • Broad-winged Hawk – 168
  • Swainson’s Hawk – 12
  • American Kestrel – 33
  • Merlin – 1 (adult male)
  • Peregrine Falcon – 1 (juvenile)
  • Total – 356

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher tally:  6

bchu-im-m-smithpoint-10-25-13-tl-01-cropscreen-lowres bchu-im-m-smithpoint-10-25-13-tl-02-cropscreen-lowres bchu-im-m-smithpoint-10-25-13-tl-04-cropscreen-lowresAfter many pictures were taken, this immature male Black-chinned Hummingbird finally turned its head to remove any doubt as to the ID!

rthu-f-smithpoint-10-25-13-tl-01-cropscreen-lowresThis Ruby-throated Hummingbird was doing its Greg Louganis impression.

frgu-im-smithpoint-10-25-13-tl-01-cropscreen-lowresThis immature Franklin’s Gull was one of a flock of five of the species that tried to sneak behind the tower, but I managed to steal its soul anyway!

nrws-smithpoint-10-25-13-tl-01-cropscreen-lowresNorthern Rough-winged Swallows continue to dominate the hirundine show at the tower and, occasionally during slow raptor times, I’ll frustrate myself trying to photograph them.  As in all of my photography, if I take enough pictures, one of them turns out okay.

Today’s eBird checklist


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