Posted by: 3pomjaeger3 | 29 October 2013

28 October: Dark buteos!

bwha-juv-dark-smithpoint-10-28-13-tl-03-cropscreen-lowres bwha-juv-dark-smithpoint-10-28-13-tl-04-cropscreen-lowresThese two images show a dark-morph Broad-winged Hawk pitching into the NE Motte this afternoon, ending its day of teasing me in the Broad-winged kettles.  All photos copyright 28 October 2013 by Tony Leukering.  Click on image(s) to see larger version(s).

For late in the season, today’s flight wasn’t bad.  With the E wind, the birds were shoved off to the west and not close, but I still recorded 13 species of migrating raptors, including two particularly important individuals.

Though buteo numbers were low, the diversity of colors was high, with light and dark birds of Broad-winged, Swainson’s, and Red-tailed hawks!  I haven’t been able to analyze the dark Broad-winged that I photographed today yet, but on its second appearance (or first appearance of a second bird, I don’t know, because the bird of the first sighting was very far away), it dropped into the same tree into which the dark bird two days ago dropped.

Nearly unrelated, the friend of mine that is conducting the Florida Keys hawk count this fall scored TWO dark Broad-wingeds in a kettle of 157 BWs today!  I believe that that makes for the first local record and suggests that at least some of the displaced dark BWs that I’ve enjoyed continued farther east and that birders everywhere on the Gulf Coast should keep a weather eye out. He also reported that they are closing in on FOUR THOUSAND Peregrines for the fall (3985 as of the end of the day; with the previous three-day average of 14.3/day, they should make it before the end of the season on 31 Oct~).  Ah, to think that I was offered that job.

The important raptors at Smith Point were the second individuals of both Osprey and Peregrine Falcon that tied the seasonal record-high counts for their respective species!  Of course, that just leaves the door wide open for Tad to break both records tomorrow!

Raptors counted:

  • Turkey Vulture – 38
  • Osprey – 2
  • White-tailed Kite – 1
  • Northern Harrier – 11
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk – 13
  • Cooper’s Hawk – 30
  • Broad-winged Hawk – 57
  • Swainson’s Hawk – 6 (1 adult black, 1 adult light, 4 juvenile light)
  • White-tailed Hawk – 2 (juveniles)
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 5 (1 adult dark, 1 adult light calurus, 1 adult light borealis, 1 adult really light borealis — possibly Krider’s but just too far, 1 juvenile light borealis)
  • American Kestrel – 18
  • Merlin – 1
  • Peregrine Falcon – 2 (lighter juvenile, second-year)
  • Total – 186

Landbird migrants were nearly restricted to blackbirds today, with single Lark and White-crowned (immature Eastern) sparrows and four Indigo Buntings being exceptions. Well, and the trio of American Goldfinches that flew by and landed in the “Sparse Oak.”

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher tally:  3

Today’s eBird checklist

rtha-juv-snake-smithpoint-10-28-13-tl-01-cropscreen-lowres rtha-juv-snake-smithpoint-10-28-13-tl-02-cropscreen-lowres rtha-juv-snake-smithpoint-10-28-13-tl-03-cropscreen-lowresrtha-juv-snake-smithpoint-10-28-13-tl-05-cropscreen-lowres rtha-juv-snake-smithpoint-10-28-13-tl-06-cropscreen-lowres rtha-juv-snake-smithpoint-10-28-13-tl-07-cropscreen-lowresThough, technically, I shouldn’t, I am declaring this juvenile borealis Red-tailed Hawk to be The Bird of the Day.  I was leaving the WMA when I noticed it on the verge eating a snake.  It allowed my close approach in the car while it finished off the colubrid.  Then it looked around to make sure that it hadn’t missed any of it, and sprang into the air to perch in the trees.

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